Making Space

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My gas tank light flashed on.  Ugh, I heaved. What an apropos picture for what I feel like right now.  The morning was still dark and I was driving to meet with three seventh grade girls whom I was supposed to be “mentoring.”  But I felt out of gas. Runnin’ on empty.  Like I had nothing to give.  I should NOT be doing this!  What in the world do I have to offer them?  I feel like I’m barely holding it together and they’re supposed to look up to me? Yikes.  I pulled into the parking lot and saw one of their moms pulling out.  Another whammy to myself: not even on time.  The mini-van slowed and the mom rolled down her window.

“Caitlin, hi! How are you?”

“Uhhh.. great,” I faltered.  This particular mom had actually mentored me for the last several years.  She must be thinking ‘why am I letting my daughter be influenced by this girl?’  “Grace,” I spit out before I would think the better of it. “I’m actually feeling like I don’t have much to give.  Like, I am a mess.  And..” I trailed off.

Grace smiled.  She has one of those reassuring smiles, one that serves as a reminder that everything will be a-okay. “Oh, Caitlin, what a perfect place to be in… for you’re aware that it’s not really about you offering YOUR wisdom or joy, but offering a place for the Lord to work.  You’re making yourself available, and that’s all that’s necessary.”

Ah ha. Right. So I didn’t feel adequate.  Well, that’s not the point.  Or maybe in part, it is exactly the point. HE’S adequate. And He’s in me.  So in I went and we had cinnamon crunch bagels and talked about middle school life.

Later, I walked out with those three darling girls and realized how refreshed I was.  There was a mysterious exchange that had taken place in that last hour.  My weakness, His strength.  My crumbs, His bread of Life.  And honestly it was a gift to be with them and to realize, hey, it is not about me right now.  Self-forgetfulness can be a relief.

I think back to the many women who have been involved in my life over the years.  Each of them lovely, each of them wise.  But what was most impactful to me was their availability, the space they created in their lives to allow me to join.  I remember sometimes jumping in the car and going grocery shopping with one of them.  She invited me to just come alongside her amidst her to-do list.  In my highschool years, I would often meet with a mentor, now a dear, dear friend, at Panera.  We’d order cinnamon crunch bagels.  I know she offered me a lot of wisdom, but what I remember most is just that she was there. She kept showing up every week at Panera.

In the beginning, God created time and space.  And I think He grants us the ability to create specific time and spaces in our own lives.  Creating time and space to walk alongside of other people – whether we are the “mentee” or “mentor” – is an invitation for us to do what Jesus did: invest in relationships… make disciples. He knew we needed one another, knew that we weren’t made to do life on our own.  Our retreat speaker Dale Keuhne’s words come to mind: “human flourishing requires a constellation of relationships.”  Those words have swirled around in my mind for months.  A constellation of relationships… what could that look like for us at Restoration as we consider investing in one another?  Maybe it’s much simpler than we make it out to be.  Maybe it’s about just showing up.

Please join us to discuss the topic of mentoring at the next Women’s Unscripted. This is a chance to hear from different women’s stories, gain practical tools for being and/or finding a mentor, and learn about new avenues to get to know other women at Restoration.  7:30 pm on Tuesday, March 24 (NEXT TUESDAY) in the Fellowship Hall.  Hope to see all Restoration women – and their friends there. All welcome.

~Caitlin Staples for the Women Unscripted Team