Small Graces

When my husband and I first got married, we prayed every night for mentors. We didn’t have many deep relationships at all when we first got married, as we hadn’t lived in the area for very long before we tied the knot, so we certainly didn’t have any healthy relationships with older married couples. We longed for that. We were young—still in college—and wanted to start our marriage off strong, with an older man and woman to guide us along the way. A good prayer, right?

If you know me at all, you know I have an almost unhealthy lack of fear of talking to people. Any person. It’s gotten me in plenty of trouble over the years, but it also assisted me in asking for mentors. So I walked straight up to the university president’s wife and asked her to mentor me.

No, ask someone else.

So I walked straight up to our pastor’s wife and asked her to mentor me.

No. Sorry, no time.

Again and again, I received the same answer. No. I eventually gave up.

One day, an older couple whom we admired asked us to meet up for lunch—they had something important to discuss.

Our hearts leapt for joy, and we could hardly count the hours until our lunch date. We met them in a little cafe and ordered our drinks quickly, in happy anticipation. Once we were seated, the couple pulled out a clipboard and some magazines and started telling us all about an amazing product. A product they believed in and thought we were the perfect candidates to sell. They didn’t want to mentor us in our marriage; they wanted to recruit us for their pyramid scheme! My hopes dashed, I hardly recall the rest of the conversation.

Another no.

But, God, isn’t this what you want from us? Don’t you teach older men and women to mentor the younger? Isn’t this part of your plan? Wouldn’t it be perfect if we had someone to help us?

It took me 5 more years before I had the courage to again ask another woman to mentor me. And this time she said, Yes! And she poured her heart into me for over 4 years. I am a better woman for it. And a grateful one.

But that Yes doesn’t always come.

Sometimes that Yes doesn’t come until we reach glory.

Although I had a mentor during those years, I’m left again in daily loneliness. I long for a mother to come and walk with me and tell me if I’m doing it right or freaking out over nothing. I long for a woman to tell me how I can encourage my husband. A community of women who support one another.

Last week, a friend encouraged me in something with the children. Something I shouldn’t do with them. At first, the defense rose up in my heart as pride soared through my veins. But slowly, as she spoke with love and not accusation, I realized this was an answer to prayer. Here was a woman coming alongside me and loving me. It’s not the way I imagined, but it’s still a grace that God has given me. And yesterday, the babysitters encouraged me in something I’ve been working on in the kids that they actually did well. Another gift from God! It was just a matter of my heart opening up to see God’s gifts and not waiting for them in the form I expect and want.

Maybe it’s the same for you. Maybe you’re praying for a tight-knit community who goes out for coffee every night but instead, God’s given you one close friend or a community on Facebook—still answered prayers. Maybe you’re praying for children, but instead God’s given you Sunday school children to tend to who aren’t your own—still answered prayers. Maybe you’re praying for your mother not to die of a terminal illness, but instead, God has chosen to take her from you and bring her into painless, lovely glory—still answered prayers. They are all good and right prayers, but God answers them in ways we don’t expect.

As I again take up my prayer for a mentor and women alongside me, I will pray it with a twinge of sadness and a lot of hope. I will know that God may answer my prayer or I may find my mentors in the form of bloggers and podcasts and books. But I can be sure that He hears me and comforts me, and I will pray for an open heart to see where He is giving me grace upon grace. And if He doesn’t answer me in the here and now, I know that one day, I will have that forever community.

...the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction...

How has God answered your prayers differently than you expected? Are there gifts of grace He has given you that you’ve failed to recognize because you expected them to look differently? How can you be thankful for how God has chosen to answer your prayers?