She left a mark on me.
I mean a deeply beautiful impression, the trace of her fingerprints etched around my life and my heart and my future.
That’s what mentors do. They don’t just listen and guide, teach and encourage, give advice and share experiences; they change who you are.
They say, “I see who you can be and I want to help you get there.”
And then they pour into you a little (or a lot!) of themselves.
By the time I met this one mentor of mine, she was already in her 80’s. She had been directing music and teaching for over 60 years already and I was a baby in comparison.
Ann invited me over to her house. She pulled out a basket of programs, one for each musical she’d ever directed. That basket was a heavy load!
Then she showed me how she marked her music, how she made notes at auditions, how she ranged the singers.
In perhaps the most literal way possible on this earth, she passed the baton to me.
Last week, this dear lady with a fiercely spunky and loyal soul passed away.
And every single day since I’ve been meaning to write this post as a kind of tribute to her, a way to remember her long after we’ve said goodbye, cried at her funeral, and reminisced together about her.
But it’s hard.
She’s been on my mind all the time but I couldn’t quite collect all the words I’d like to say. I miss her. I will miss seeing her on the front row next week when our community theatre group performs their latest show.
While we do have forever with Jesus, we do not have forever to walk on this earth. That is the way of things.
So I think of her and remember to live loyal, live love, and live with passion and gusto.
And I remember this: to live to be mentored and to mentor, to be taught and to teach others. This is a legacy beyond compare.
At the same time Ann was saying goodbye to loved ones and farewell to friends, I was reading the book of 2 Timothy, the very last letter Paul wrote in the Bible before he died in Rome.
These are his farewell words. His final thoughts poured out for his “beloved child” in the faith, Timothy.
(This is the beauty of God at work, how He was preparing my heart for a goodbye of my own by letting me listen in on Paul’s goodbye.)
As I read, I longed to be a Timothy.
I wanted to lean in close and listen to a faith giant tell me what’s what. Mentor me. Teach me, please!
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7 ESV)
This is a life well-lived, a finish line crossed. He didn’t give up along the way or chicken out when life got hard. He pushed and persevered and kept on moving forward so that in those last days and those final moments, he could say with confidence that he had kept this faith and finished this race.
Amen. I know people who teach me how to do that.
When we ache with weariness, may we all have others to lift us up.
When we’ve emptied ourselves out, may we know that Christ fills us anew and often He refills us through the overflow of others.
May we find mentors and teachers who will show us how to live life well and to live out faith.
But I don’t just want to be a Timothy, I also want to be a Paul.
I certainly know some people who need to hear me say,
“I am reminded of your sincere faith….fan into flame the gift of God…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:5&6 ESV).
I want to pour into others and encourage them in their calling and their gifting.
Paul wrote to Timothy,
“You, however ,have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, and sufferings…” (2 Timothy 3:10 ESV).
This was no superficial friendship.
May I similarly leave a mark on their own hearts and their own ministries because I’ve been willing to make myself vulnerable with them, share the honest places of my heart and my struggles and how God shows so much grace.
May I be a spiritual mother to others in the way that Paul was a spiritual father to Timothy.
At any moment in our lives, we have this choice:To learn from another and to teach another.
May it be both.
May we always be humble enough to learn and gracious enough to give what we’ve learned away.