Just after we first moved back to Texas, I was sitting in a nail salon. My Vietnamese technician didn’t speak any English, and for whatever reason, wasn’t much in the mood to try to communicate. It was okay, though, because, sitting next to me, there was a younger tech who spoke very well, who was in a lively conversation with an equally lively older woman. That woman was Texan through and through, and her accent was as thick and rich as her younger counterpart. Their conversation filled the room…
“Where you live you grow up?”
“Oh honey, I grew up out in the oil country of Midland-Odessa. I moved here to Fort Worth when I married back in ’52.”
“You married long time!”
“Yes ma’am! 57 years (this was 4 years ago) this Christmas! I had my mama’s dress remade for me, and it was so cold out in Midland that year, my daddy ended up putting his overcoat on me to keep me from turnin’ to ice! It was one of the best days of my life.”
They went on, the younger asking questions, intrigued by someone who had been married that long and was happy about it, and the older answering, pleased to have someone interested in her story.
“I been married 4 year. Sometime I want to kill him.”
“Oh honey, everybody wants to strangle their husbands sometimes! The key is not to do it! Hahahaha! No, now I’m serious. It’s in those times you pray that God will help you remember why you married him to begin with. He’s always been faithful to do it for me.”
“I never think much God in marriage.”
“Oh honey, that’s your problem right there. What all do you know about God?”
And as I sat right there next to them, that older woman poured some Jesus into that younger woman. She filled her up with encouragement and lessons she’d learned in her own life experiences. I don’t know if that woman was a regular customer, or if she was just a walk-in, but that day she made a significant deposit in her fellow human being.
It was beautiful.
Years ago, I was introduced to what I like to call the Titus 2 Principle. It’s based on the scripture found in Titus 2 (see below), and what I believe is the basis for mentoring. I have been privileged to have some incredible women, both a little and a lot further down the road from me, pour into my heart in ways that forever changed me. I still am always on the lookout for women like this because, at every stage, I have a lot to learn. But now, I AM the older woman, too, and I’ve been, and continue to be, privileged to share some road-time with some of my younger fellow life-travelers.
We all need the perspective from people who have “been there,” and know the way to where we’re going. With them, we can travel a little easier because they can warn us about the pot holes and the detours, and help keep us on the right road. And as we share with those who are coming up, we can rejoice in our triumphs, but more, we can offer up our mistakes and help others avoid them altogether, making those mistakes count for good. Whether you enter in to a more formal mentoring relationship, or just sit down to get your nails done, you have a LOT to offer. Never buy into the lie that you don’t. Thankfully, good life stories or harrowing, God uses them all to pull us beyond ourselves and straight into the hearts of others.
It’s a blessing as rich as those two heavy accents discussing an almighty God.
“You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” Titus 2:1-8
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV