I love Hillary Clinton’s book title, because that’s true for all of us. We need each other. None of us gets life right by ourselves, and seeking counsel from mentors is wise, even scriptural. Four centuries before Hillary wrote her book, John Donne put the same idea in different words: “No man is an island.”
Because of Cousin Jan’s visit here from California (yesterday’s post), I’ve been reminiscing about her mom, my Aunt Joyce, who mentored me for 39 years. I clearly remember when it began. I’d just arrived in California as a college sophomore for a second happy summer of living with my cousins. A mob of us had finished lunch, and everyone had left the table except my aunt and me.
She said, “I know you had a great time here last summer, but you can’t be sure it’ll be the same this year. It could go either way.”
I nodded and took it in, thinking about her words long after I’d left the table. Her counsel had been practical and sensible, and in offering it, she’d put a welcome mat between us, inviting me to come to her any time. Over many years, I took full advantage of the offer.
Aunt Joyce faithfully prayed for me and offered counsel until she died in 2005, at the age of 92. Most of her guidance came in handwritten letters which I’ve saved, and I’m looking forward to reopening them one at a time every so often, in order to gain additional wisdom from this godly woman and friend.
It’s possible the miles between us actually enhanced her mentoring. Neither of us had to clean house or make muffins when we “talked”. Our calendars were not clogged with get-togethers, because most of our communicating took place through the mail. But the bond was stronger than distance and bridged several generations. Before she died, she’d begun mentoring our daughter Linnea and was spending large chunks of time praying for each of our family members.
The beauty of mentoring is its non-threatening, non-pressured atmosphere. Aunt Joyce wasn’t my mother, a police woman or a preacher. With all restrictions lifted, she could be herself (the wise aunt I admired), and I could be myself (openly seeking without being judged).
We see biblical mentoring throughout Scripture: Joshua mentored by Moses, Mary by Elizabeth, Barnabas by Paul and of course the twelve disciples by Jesus. And just like I still have Aunt Joyce’s letters, all of us are privy to biblical mentoring through the pages of our Bibles.
When I lost my earthly mentor, she left a void no other woman could fill, so I asked the Lord if he would be to me what Aunt Joyce had been. Although he often uses “the whole village” to bring us through, he’s also just fine with doing it all by himself.
“For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.” (Psalm 48:14)