She’s a mess and she knows it.
Life has slapped her around hard and it doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon.
Her back story is unusual enough she could probably pen a best-selling memoir. She’s actually started it but then left off after a few chapters. Some things are too painful to write down.
We were joined together in a professional mentoring relationship, she and I, but after one Starbucks trip, we discovered we knew each other as sisters—the eternal kind.
Each Thursday at 10 a.m., you would find us in that same Starbucks, going over the finer points of marketing. How to please your boss. How to show up on time. How to sit at a desk for eight hours a day and not go mad.
As the months rolled on, I grew to passionately admire this young woman. She, who had so much promise but also had to escape the legacy of some pretty deep junk. I grieved each setback she brought to the table. I marveled at how she rose to face one more day. Through each challenge, I tried to whisper, “You are a daughter of the King.”
I gave her my attention. I gave her my love. Because you see, I am a mess, and I know it.
Being a mentor means a lot of things, but it also means you face yourself each week over Starbucks. Except it’s you 15 years ago. And there are no grays, and no pesky lines. The younger you is ready for life, thinner and supposedly more optimistic.
But my mentee wasn’t optimistic or perky. And I didn’t blame her, not one bit. Life had chucked too much pain and heartache her way. What could I offer her, me whose life couldn’t be farther away from her very real anguish and suffering?
There was no rule book, no set of guidelines I could Google. So, I brought myself. I listened, I cared. I looked into her eyes and gave her hard truths when she needed them. She started attending my Bible study. I prayed for her. And when she had a setback at work, when her internship started to cave in on her, I took a deep breath and we picked up the pieces.
In short, I refused to give up on her. Even when the world was ready to kick her teeth in—again. I didn’t give up because the King doesn’t give up on me. Am I perfect? Oh, heavens, no. But I have learned to walk and pray. To sigh and pray. To whisper to Jesus, “I am a big mess. Take it and do something that matters.”
I guess you could say my first and best mentoring relationship happened between my God and me. We sit together, journal, pen and Bible at the ready, and I say, “I blew it this time. Can we start again?”
And there, the King of Love tells me ever so gently, “Yes. Don’t you know how loved you are? Don’t you know I fixed everything so that we would never be apart?”
Finally, one day, there was good news. My mentee breathlessly told me she was accepted into a great school and all of her previous college credits would transfer. Her parents would pay the tuition. This part of life, it seemed, would be blessed with abundance.
May we mentor younger women with our hearts filled with empathy and hope. May younger women seek the counsel of smart and caring women. Whatever side of the bistro table we find ourselves on, may we clasp hands and whisper with courage, “Your mess is no match for my God. Let me show you what He can do.”
By Jennifer Fenske, Pale Pearl.Leave a Comment
Robin ~ PENSIEVE says
How gracious and generous of you to give YOURSELF in this capacity; sometimes we get lost in thinking numbers matter (and that means you need LOTS of ’em) but the truth is sowing into one or two is deeper, more significant…and for most of us, more realistic. God used you as a vessel to help rechart this dear one’s life. What an honor!
Thank you for encouraging all of us to invest in the lives of others. Our best example for this is Jesus, but Jesus living through people is pretty cool to see, too :).
I LOVE this! Everywhere my husband and I have been in ministry, we have sought to have mentors ourselves as our ministry calls us each to mentor/disciple multiple others.
It is a beautiful thing and essential to the health of the Body…at times, it’s been discouraging when you are the one who is new and alone and you have to initiate with another, face possible rejection because of busyness (which has happened), so I love to hear you speak in such a heartfelt way about the importance of being a mentor and having one too.
thank you and blessings, abby:)
wow. I needed that last line “your mess is no match for my God.” I have been broken and am to a point where there are definitely times I wonder if God is really all that powerful since he can’t seem to fix me. It seems like he doesn’t care. I want so much to believe he cares, but more often than not I stay in the broken place and Satan continues to pour into me that God will never be able to care for all the hurts. Satan seems to have found his way in pretty well too. I have been self-injury free for 576 days, yet almost daily I fight to stay free. He likes to remind me that my best friend I hasn’t so much as said hi to me in passing since September (when I pretty much forced myself upon her)…he reminds me that my grand total of friends is 4 but really more like two when you factor in the relationship with two of them…
Holley Gerth says
“Your mess (and mine) is no match for my God.” I love that glorious truth and the way you shared it. And seeing your heart for this young woman was beautiful. I’ve had some mentors and they have made all the difference in my walk with Jesus. And you’re not just impacting this young woman but all the future generations of her family because you’ve helped her become a tide-turner. Yay for you and your compassionate heart! And YAY for the God who enters our messes and finds the beauty so we can do the same for others.
Katie @ Imperfect People says
I love this. Imperfect People in love with a perfect God! You wrote beautifuly!
Beth Williams says
Thank you for reminding me I am a child of the King! Sometimes we tend to forget that. “Yes. Don’t you know how loved you are? Don’t you know I fixed everything so that we would never be apart?” Wow what wonderful words to hear from God!!!
Thank you for reminding me that we are all messes just waiting for a perfect God to come clean us up!
Grandma Patty Ann says
You are a beautiful person and this really touched my heart. May God bless you and all that you touch!
Amen, Jennifer! …. Praying for you, and your mentee!!
ohhh Jennifer…..boy did you touch my heart today. I have been in the middle of so much lately and how I would love a true mentor in my life….My husband and I along with about 12others started a church about 5 years ago and it is thriving…which is WONDERFUL… But with that comes many responsibilities….Our motto is “for those who have given up on Church but not on God…” so we are filled with searching people and so come with lots of needs…Also, I am 40 years old and have been married for 22 years and have an 18 yr old and a 15 year old….A huge majority of our congregation is new parents…..I have always love mentoring and encouraging but lately I find a bitterness inside that worries me….I have no one that is going through what I am going through and I feel very alone…..
Today after reading your beautiful words I wrote by blog….never knowing what direction I will go…..I was so thankful for your words that made me face some of the struggles that I am dealing with and just to be honest about where I am….
Here is a link to todays blog post….
What a blessing you are…
This is expressed beautifully. I wish for relationships like this in my life where I am both a mentor and a mentee!
Thank you for this encouragement today. Right now, I sit in your shoes, as a mentor to a girl a few years younger than me. I never signed up for this position, but simply made myself available to the girls in my church’s high shcool ministry and found myself mentoring this one young woman. I see so much of my 16-year-old self in her, and yet her story and her pain are unique. She is in a hard place, one I never found myself in. I don’t have easy answers and sometimes, I don’t have any answers. But I bring myself. Each day it’s hard. It’s messy. But I refuse to give up becuase God doesn’t give up. And when it all feels like too much to carry, He takes the burden adn I simply keep making myself available. I speak truth and love and encouragement. So often, I find that I am speaking words that I myself need to hear. I long for the day when the good news comes, when there are smiles instead of tears. But until that day, I know that God is right in the middle of this mess, of both mine and hers, and that He is making something good, something new.
This is a wonderfully written post! I have found that my best and most genuine relationships on both sides of the table have been when I have admitted my mess. For years I tried to sit at that table and be who I thought the person on the other side wanted to see… June Cleaver, Martha Stewart, perfect wife, perfect mom… but it was only when I realized that God is bigger than the mess I’m in that I could become more like him. He is so gracious to walk with us through the junk. Thanks for this today!
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Dorothy O'Shields says
What a beautifully written, open-soul/heart story! I’ve seen it over and over – working in an alternative school with a wonderful Mentor Program. But, I’ve also seen it as a Youth Leader in the church. If only people knew what a difference a caring adult can make in the life of a young person.
I too was blessed to have many older women mentor me – not intentionally, perhaps – but, model life for me and I bless God for each of them. Through them I learned how to share God’s love.
It’s still easier for me to share than to receive. I’m thankful that at 61 when I still see myself as “mess” most days, God sees who I really am and cannot see and uses me right where I am.
Thank you so much for sharing your heart… I’ve passed this story on to our Mentor Coordinator at our school, so I’m sure it will be shared over and over and over….blessing more than you will ever know!
Blessings in Abundance to you!♥
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Wow, everyone. What amazing comments! I am so humbled and delighted in everything you wrote. Thank you for the encouragement. I pray blessings on your mentor and mentee relationships!
Jennifer, thanks for this post. I could feel your graciousness right off the page. I want to be like this more often. I want to take the time for what really matters; we all have our messes and sometimes we just need someone that we know is there.
Jennifer, this is so beautiful. I’m honored to be a mentor and to also be a mentee.