As part of an effort to give back what I have been given, I mentor several individuals. Three of them are through professional organizations I am a part of. In these situations, I am struck by the virtual nature of our relationship. We have never physically met. We do not know anyone in common. What might seem barriers to some has created an opportunity for us to build intentional bridges of understanding. Additionally, the distance and structure to our interactions means that we have choices in what we talk about as well as the permissions we give to each other.
In the natural reflections that follow each meeting, I have revisited the conversations of key mentors in my life. Each in unique ways stands out. The one thing that they are share in common is candid honesty. They chose to be mentors. As such, they also chose to remain true to themselves. Each brought honesty in a unique way that confronted my reality. I could deny their point, but truth has a way of staying with you even when you try to run away from it.
As I look back, my response was not always helpful. At times I tried to distract them with other priorities. Occasionally I offered reasoning and rationale for my behavior. There were moments when I refused to hear what they had to say. To each, I have repeated an old David psalm for how they handled me; “Blessed be God: he didn’t turn a deaf ear, he stayed with me, loyal in his love.” (Psalm 66.20)
I consider myself fortunate to have had each in my life. I do not think I deserved the priceless gifts they delivered. I realize now that was not the point, then or now. They were giving away what they had received. I also know that I am called to do the same. I do not see that there are any alternatives. It would be a waste to keep their wisdom as well as what I have learned in hiding. Others ensure life’s lessons live on.