A few months ago we were chatting with some people after church, one of them a college student. She had been our kids favorite babysitter as a middle and high school student, and over the years we’d seen her grow from a preteen to a lovely young adult. As she was sharing about college and what she was studying, I marveled at how the shy, quiet girl who used to babysit our babies had turned into such a lovely, well-spoken, confident young woman. As she was describing her college experience and her double engineering degree, I had a flash of my now eleven-year-old daughter as a college student and I realized … she’s a lot like Cara.
On an impulse, I asked “Hey Becca. While you’re here this summer, would you consider being a mentor for Cara?”
To be honest, I didn’t put any forethought into the question. I was acting purely on impulse. I didn’t even fully understand what I was asking. I just knew I wanted my daughter to be influenced by someone a few years ahead of her – someone who she shows a lot of the character traits I’m trying to build into my daughter – someone who knows and cares for my daughter.
Becca, seemingly not surprised at all by the question, and perhaps listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, said “ Yes! I’d love to!”And thus, a mentor relationship began.
As the summer went on, Becca initiated weekly times to hang out. They got tacos. They went for a sunset hike. They did a coffee shop Bible study date. They walked the dog. They made pizzas and created art.
It’s been a surprising and wonderful part of the summer break for Cara. And I realized that all it took for this to occur was me to ask and Becca to say yes. That’s literally it.
No requirements other than initiative and time. No special skills other than being willing to be open with your life.
That’s the biggest thing Becca gave to Cara. She opened her life up to her and invited her in. She let Cara join her for the summer in the life journey she’s on.
I know the word mentor carries baggage for some people. They make assumptions about what being in a mentor relationship involves. Or about what is expected. Or the commitment.
However, beginning a mentor relationship is simply finding someone a few years ahead of you in life who exhibits traits you’d like to develop in yourself and intentionally putting yourself in their presence. Creating the space for their life to speak into yours.
I’ve had two different mentors in my life, and in both I saw the relationships they had with their daughters and I knew I wanted to learn how to have a similar relationship with my daughter. To learn what they had done to create such openness with their girls? To understand how they maintained connection through the turbulent teen years and handled the transitions to different stages of life.My relationship with my mom wasn’t the model I wanted to emulate, so I had to intentionally seek out one that was.
For the record, there is no one model for a mentor relationship. No prescription for success. Frequency, content, activity, longevity. Each mentor relationship will look as different as the two people in it.
Are you interested in finding a mentor? Or being a mentor to someone else?
Here are a few questions to consider:
- Is there someone ahead of me in life who I’d like to intentionally develop a relationship with?
- Does their life include characteristics or traits I’d like to foster in myself?
- Am I willing to be open with my life, my journey, my struggles?
If the answer to these three questions is “yes” then finding a mentor relationship to be a part of is probably a great next step for you!
An Interview With Becca Shorey and Cara Giovagnoni
- What was the best thing about being in a mentor relationship this summer?
Becca: I really had so much fun getting to know Cara. She is caring, wise, thoughtful, and goofy and I developed such a sweet friendship with her. It’s so beautiful to see how God has captured her heart at such a young age and I learned so much from her.
Cara: I loved everything that we did together and how every time, she would bring up “deep questions” and make me think about why I feel a certain way. 😁
- What is one thing you’re taking away from your time together this summer?
Becca: It was very fulfilling to hang out with someone in a very different stage of life from me which I didn’t necessarily expect. Also, I felt very honored in being asked to mentor someone and the thought of it truly delighted me and gave me something very tangible to pray for. These things will help me in asking someone to mentor me who is in a different stage of life than I am. I now know that it can be so sweet and I know that it means so much when someone asks you.
Cara: I learned that even though Becca is in a different stage of life, we can still learn from each other and teach each other. During our time, I felt like there wasn’t really any age difference between us. We thought alike and acted alike and it really just felt like I was hanging out with a friend my age.
- Would you do it again?
- What would you tell someone who is considering finding/being a mentor?
Becca: I think that mentorship is powerful even if it’s only for a short season. I was worried that the summer would be too short to get anywhere very deep but I really felt that I got to know Cara.
Also, both being mentored and mentoring have been significant in my relationship with God because they both teach and stretch me differently. I would really encourage trying both! I’ve only been walking with the Lord for a short amount of time compared to those older than me and it’s easy to think that I don’t have much to offer but I’m so thankful that I got to meet with Cara and we got to learn from one another.
Cara: I think mentoring/being mentored is a great idea because it helps bring people closer to each other and realize what is similar between them. 😁