By Niccole Van Peursem, Chosen Mentor
I grew up moving a lot. By the time I got married, I'd moved 13 times. So naturally, I married a military man and added five more moves to the list. Moving that much meant that my family was my only constant; but even they felt distant most of the time. I longed to have friends for more than a year or two. One aspect of moving so much, which on the surface seemed like a gift, was that whenever I messed up, it was okay. I’d be moving soon, and then no one would know about my mistakes. And yet, a part of me often wondered what would it be like to be known and accepted through--despite--my mistakes. What I really longed for was someone who would still show up with mercy, compassion, love, acceptance, and grace even when my failings had been exposed--and would still call me a friend.
I didn’t grow up going to church. My family fits the demographics of the, “a rabbi, a priest and a minister all walk into a bar...” joke. My very immediate family consists of Jews, Catholics, Mennonites, Christians, agnostics, and atheists. The first time I was taken to church on any sort of a regular basis was after my parents told me they thought they had “messed me up” so I should go to church. Though their motive may have been flawed, I thankfully found that I actually was messed up, and I needed Jesus. He became the One I could rely on despite my failings and circumstances. Even after I’d gone to college and walked very far away from Him, He still called me back, loved and accepted me. One night I cried out, “Jesus, am I too messed up for you? Can I come back to you?” I turned to Psalm 46:5, which was written on a bookmark I had.
God is within her, she will not fail." -Psalm 46:5
I felt God say that He’d always been there with me, that failure wasn’t my identity (just my current circumstance), and that He would help me change that.
As with any good thing, there have been some challenges in mentoring. Navigating the best way to respond when our mentee has felt distant or when logistics just don’t seem to work out easily. Even so, throughout our journey, our mentee has said things that give us a glimpse into the impact that mentorship is making in her life. One evening after hanging out and having dinner, our mentee mentioned that she noticed that we weren’t pushing with our beliefs or opinions on her and she felt accepted by us. AMAZING!