One of the hardest things, when mentoring a young person, is to find the right words at the right time. When I know what to say or how to speak to a situation in my mentee’s life, she either does not want to talk about it or does not see it as an issue. However, when there is something amiss and I have nothing encouraging to say or words simply fail me, God never disappoints to show up and guide me and my mentee. As I have said many times before, mentoring is a two-way street. The giving will flow both ways. As you pour into someone’s life the richness will also return to you in unexpected ways.
My 11 year old mentee and I were together one evening to bake brownies for my husband and for my colleagues. On the ride from her house to mine, she kept talking about how upset she was that her guardian would not let her do her new chores her way. The guardian insisted that they were done her way and when she told her to them –no negotiations were allowed. Now I have learned not to speak too soon! You may prompt and ask questions but do not venture out too soon on the advice. Even when asked, just don’t do it. Keep the conversation going with open ended questions –why is this so upsetting to you? Why do you think this is so important to your guardian? Do you like the new chores/responsibility? If you were the guardian what would you do differently?
We get to my house and sit to have a snack before we start and she is still livid over having to do the chores how and when she is told. She doesn’t mind doing the chores but she wants to freestyle it. And then she takes a break talking and asks “what do you think Ms. G?”. I almost choke on my popcorn. Responses of these kind must carefully crafted as to not go against the provider and they must take in the child’s age and background. To just start in with your opinion is unwise! So my reply was “I think we should get to those brownies before it gets too late!”
We go into the kitchen and get everything we need to make two batches of brownies but my young lady is still chatting away about her circumstances. I decided to let her take her frustrations out on a generic box of brownie mix because I did not want her to mess up my good batches. My go-to stress reliever and thinking job is baking. I gave her box and said “here, go for it however you please”. I drank some hot tea and had a seat while she chatted, and chatted and chatted and finally ready to put her brownies in the oven. Whew!!
Now we are finally both calm enough to bake some real brownies. We chose our boxes and got started. I decided we should ‘freestyle’ and embellish them with some Caramel and Reese’s candies. And into the oven the brownies go!! And out comes the ‘anger brownies’. Upon seeing them lil’ Miss Mentee proclaims “those brownies look a hot mess”!! I ask, “why? What is wrong with them?” She said, “I don’t know, I was not paying attention, I mean I know it takes eggs, and milk but I am not sure of the order or amount”.
And here it comes! I did not plan it, it just worked out this way. I said when you bake something, you must read the instructions and follow them at least the first time you make the recipe. She interrupts with “but you didn’t follow the instructions”.
No dear, I did not because I have made these brownies for years. I can make them with my eyes closed and I know how much and with what I can add to them without resulting in a mess. The same is with your chores. You must do them as instructed initially. Once you have done them and prove to your guardian that you are more than capable of doing them, you may be able to do things differently. But in the beginning it is imperative that you follow instructions or end up with a hot mess! Her simple response was “Oh, I see now. I guess she wins”.
Dearest, it is not about winning, I explained. It is about learning to do the right thing, the right way, for the right reason, with the right attitude and at the right time. Your freestyle will come after this.
I did not plan or orchestrate this event with this specific illustration in mind. I made the brownie and simply allowed the Holy Spirit to intercede. I learned that it is ok not to be always on guard with the answers but remain yielded and still so that I can hear that still small voice speaking instead of the three people who are always living and chatting in my own head (ha!).
“For it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of Your Father speaking through you” Matthew 10:20