Every person needs a variety of voices that speak into their life. As people who live in community with each other, what better resources do we have than one another? I think about it all the time as I study mentoring and influence and how I see that lived out around me. I think about it as I look at my own life, and the life of my family. I think about it as I look at people around me in the various settings I am in. (I really just think about it a lot!)
One of my favorite books is called Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof. (Don't let the title fool you, it's about parenting, but this book also hugely impacted me with its great leadership principals.) They talk about different family values, and one that I love is called WIDENING the CIRCLE. It's in the context of family, and the idea is to pursue strategic relationships for your kids. Let other voices beside your own speak into their lives.
Recently I was part of a conference. It was really stretching for me and I was struggling with extreme nerves and all those other lovely thoughts of self-doubt and insecurity that plague us when we step into something new. Just as I was about to let that overtake me, I heard a quiet, gentle voice say my name. I looked up, and there she was. I have known her all my life and seeing her took me back to my childhood. My first "mom-friend." I used to babysit her children all the time as a young girl and I learned so much from her. From being in her home, from watching her with her children, seeing her creativity, spending time with her family - she taught me so many things.
I remembering observing the challenge of having a young family, the love that was present in her home, the way I was accepted and loved by her family, the opportunity I had to love her children and learn to care for them and FEEL so accepted, the times I could tell she was hurting and having a hard time, seeing the love she had for her children and husband, witnessing the evidence of a strong faith. I can play clear pictures of all those times, all these years later. It's like a story in my mind, a significant part of my younger years.
She widened her circle for me.
When I see her again on occasion as an adult all those things are what immediately come to back to me. After a brief conversation at the conference, she again spoke into my life and still displays all the qualities that I observed and admired as a young girl. It was so comforting to me and I was holding back tears. And I was able to go forward that day with confidence because of her kind words and affirmation.
Impact early on.
Impact years later.
I have my own awesome mother. She is pretty amazing and there is no one better than her or anyone that can take her place in my life. Her voice has had the most impact on me. But having other voices in my life was significant and as I look over the years, I have been blessed with a great series of "mom-friends" along the way. Not taking the place of my mom, but showing me other pictures of love and family in action. Reinforcing what I saw in my own home and showing me a bigger picture of family.
My daughter is 13. She has some pretty amazing "mom-friends" herself. It makes my heart happy to see that tradition continue. I love hearing about her crazy night of baby-sitting and seeing her seek out her "mom-friends" at church, playing with the little ones that she loves so much. Sometimes she just goes over to hang out at their house and help them for fun. She is learning things that I can't always teach her, and she is experiencing life with people that I trust. They are speaking into her life and encouraging her faith and she is seeing family life from another lens.
Other strong voices in her world besides me, influencing her future.
Thank you to all my "mom friends" that helped me in my journey. I still need you now as a grown-up mom myself, and what you have taught me along the way has been so valuable. Thank you to the "mom-friends" that are in my daughter's life, showing her beautiful examples of authentic faith and real family life. I'm so thankful she can learn from you and you are shaping her life.
We can't do it alone.
We all need each other.
Each One. Find One.