Pouring into Others: Why Mentors Matter

“Getting the most out of life isn’t about how much you keep for yourself, but how much you pour into others.” – David Stoddard, “The Heart of Mentoring.”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines mentor as—someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person. I have had the honor and privilege of seeing life through the eyes of several mentors. People can find mentors in nearly every facet from a spiritual mentor to an educational mentor. The possibilities are truly endless.

Seeking counsel and advice from someone older and wiser can be far more rewarding than simply reading about a trade or idea in a book. Human beings provide something a book hardly ever can—life experiences. Often times more than not, you never know how you will respond or handle a situation until you experience it. There’s much validity in that statement. Mentors, then, can share what they learned from said experiences. These observations, then, can help others heed or take any advice they choose.

A mentor is a guide for a reason. A mentor does not dictate. Essentially, he or she helps discover who you are on a deeper level, allowing growth and change to take place. Just as much as a mentor has free will to express or deny certain observations, a mentee has the same free will to embrace or ignore provided advice. Understanding that alone, I believe seeking a guide in various seasons and facets of life offers the greatest learning possible.

In a way, that is why internships are valuable in the workforce. In the grand scheme of employment, an internship is a mentorship program. During an internship, someone can truly delve into the nitty and gritty of their chosen field. Internships and mentor programs alike require humility. Both say, “I have much to learn in life, and I am willing to reach out to someone of better expertise than myself.”

Now, I know some may be thinking, “How long does a mentorship last?” The answer? It can last as long as you would like! There is no minimum or maximum of time this relationship should last. For example, I have had mentors that have walked through life with me for a few cups of coffee every now and then, to a couple times a month for a few months, to a few years. How a mentorship unfolds and carries out is completely up to you as well. Personally, I prefer face-to-face gatherings rather than over the phone or via social media. However, life is messy—people move, people get busy. I get it. For some, face-to-face meetings may not be comfortable. Like I said, it is up to you. Also, these times of getting together do not have to be anything fancy either. Usually, I just meet somewhere for coffee or a soda.

Depending on what the intent is behind the newfound relationship, you could go through a study together or just converse freely. There is so much freedom in every aspect of seeking counsel from an individual.

Lastly, I know the definition says that someone of more experience pairs with someone younger. Take note, young people: That does not mean you cannot mentor someone. Down to its innate core, it is as simple as vocalizing your life experiences with someone. If you see someone who is going through an experience you have had, tell them about it, even if, and especially if, you discovered you may have made the wrong decision. There’s no hurt in talking about it. After all, you could make a difference.

Take any opportunity you can to grow and learn from others. You are never too young to start processing events. Personally, I believe the younger you start, the better. People everywhere can learn so much from those next door.

I challenge you to seek out someone that you look up to and consider a role model. Even better, reach out to someone you don’t know too well. Harvest a new relationship. My current mentor was practically a stranger when I started meeting with her. After hearing her testimony, though, I knew I need to reach out to her. It is as simple as asking someone if he or she would be willing to do so. You would be surprised how many people are eager to pour into other’s lives.

I leave you all with this: A mentorship is two-fold. Both mentor and mentee can grow from this relationship that can evolve into a lifelong friendship. The experience is not only for the young person. Do not lose heart.

Blessings,

Renata

The Two Shall Become One: Changing My Last Name

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare.

Well, I am officially married, and I have a new last name. I am SO excited that I do!! Unfortunately, it will take a couple months or more to make it official in the government’s eyes, due to the plethora of paperwork and endless days waiting for documents to come back. But, it is still worth it.

Many people I know, and people in general, especially in today’s day in age, wonder why women should go through the hassle and time of changing their last names. Sadly, divorce is more common nowadays than it has ever been. Often times, I am sure women ask themselves why change their name if divorce is common. But, I do not think that is what stops many women from changing their last name. I think that is the excuse they use to the public eye. Deep down, I think the real reason so many women choose to keep their maiden name, even after getting married, is because it provides a sense of independence in a codependent relationship. Women who keep their last name can maintain their own identity.

However, I think that provides a sad distorted view of what marriage is really all about. If a women really thinks that taking her husband’s name will make her lose a sense of independence, then I think the relationship should not have led to marriage in the first place. I am my own person and identity in my marriage; however, in God’s ornate design, I am also one with my husband. My husband and I are two souls so closely woven together that we are one. We can be ourselves—entirely, completely, and unashamed—because we are one. I did not lose a sense of identity when I married my husband. In fact, if anything, I gained a greater understanding of myself! From the moment I said, “I do,” God began to show me a new side of myself and who I am as a person that I could have only learned through the gift of marriage. That is beautiful and sacred!! I am not ashamed to take my husband’s last name. I am so very thankful that from this day forward no human will know me better than my husband. From now on, he will be right alongside me as I grow in my godliness and change as a person. To me, that is not a lack of independence. That is a true gift of overwhelming grace and love!

Do not get me wrong, I understand that some women may not choose to change their last name after marriage due to business or professional reasons. I know many women who made a name for themselves in their chosen field, but did so before getting married. This could be a valid reason, yes. But, even then, I argue to hyphenate one’s name.

I know this post may not seem like it is for everyone, but I think it is. That is the beauty of language and writing. Also, I understand this post may not change anyone’s mind, and I get that. Really, though, that was not my primary intention in this post. Merely, I wrote this to be the light of brightness in today’s dark world! Do not let the world shape all that you believe and do! At the end of the day, that is not a firm foundation to be standing on. Do not be ashamed of your new name in marriage! Show the whole world that your husband is a great gift from God. Show the world that you stand with him in everything as one! I cannot help but to smile and think of all the times people will now officially associate me with my husband! It makes me giddy to think that now, FINALLY, I can become even closer with the man that I love so dearly.

Blessings,

Renata

Bring the Rain: Praising God in Sorrow

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” – Romans 12:15.

God’s design for human life and death is a beautiful and amazing picture of His power and majesty.  He designed all of human creation so intricately that nearly every moment of each passing day, while someone is rejoicing in life another person is mourning. That may seem cruel and unfair, but in reality, it is one of the greatest images of God’s mercy and grace. It is overwhelming to think about God in that way, a wonderful overwhelming, that is.

The Mercy Me song “Bring the Rain” perfectly captures the essence of leaning on God in all seasons of life, especially in the ones filled with sorrow and anguish. The song declares:

Bring me joy, bring me peace

Bring the chance to be free

Bring me anything that brings You glory

And I know there’ll be days

When this life brings me pain

But if that’s what it takes to praise You

Jesus, bring the rain

The whole song is amazing, but the chorus truly speaks a lot about the life journey of following Jesus in right relationship with Him. Often times, Jesus works through our greatest pains to bring Him glory. The essence of all that we say and do, though, should be to bring Him everlasting and eternal glory—in the wonderful moments of life like a wedding day or the birth of a child, and even in the sorrowful days when someone takes their last breath before Jesus calls him/her home. Another portion of “Bring the Rain” declares:

I can count a million times

People asking me how I

Can praise You with all that I’ve gone through

The question just amazes me

Can circumstances possibly

Change who I forever am in You

The Christian walk is not an easy one filled with only rainbows and sunshine. Nothing in life is filled with that much ease. Our life journey would not be complete without trials and tribulations. Our greatest testament to our faith comes in our weakest moments. It is easy to fully trust, rely on, and lean on God when life goes smoothly. It is easy to be at peace when circumstances seem to be going your way. However, the fragility of life is most secure when everything seems to be falling apart. Our walk with the Lord speaks thousands of volumes when we praise Him in the worst of times. However, there is a sweet reassurance when we fully rely on God in rough seasons. No situation, event, or circumstance can change who we are in Christ. In Christ, we are full and complete as stated in Colossians 2:9-10, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.”

Moments of death can bring the ultimate glory to Christ when someone’s trust is fully in Him. Death can bring both mourning and joy for a brother or sister in Christ. There is mourning in knowing the person has left the earth. However, there is great joy when we know the person is finally home with Jesus. Our ultimate life goal is look heavenly onwards and upwards. In other words, we should never lose sight of death because our life on this earth is only temporary. Jonathan Edwards perfectly stated this in his sermon entitled, The Christian Pilgrim: “How worthy heaven that your life should be wholly spent as a journey toward it…No man is at home in this world, whether he chooses heaven or not; here his but a transient person.” For those that know Christ, that is a comforting feeling. We are not home yet. On the other hand, for those who do not know Jesus that can bring much fear and sadness. The Earth is no one’s home. It is up to us on which home we choose.

I leave you with this: Pain and suffering, along with joy are natural parts of life. The birth and passing of creation is also a natural part of life. I desperately plead with you to examine where your source of comfort in seasons of life comes from? Who do you turn to in order to find peace? What are you chasing after in this life? We are all but temporary vapors. I hope and pray that Jesus is your stronghold. Nothing is possible without Him.

Blessings,

Renata

Back to the College Grind: For Some, But Not For All

“I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.” – Galileo Galilei.

In the next couple weeks, I will be going back to college. I took this previous academic year off. I did so mainly to save money, but also to get a small breather from the grind of higher education. As I am sure many have heard, taking a year off (or more at that!) is not for everyone. As my year comes to a close, I would definitely have to agree—doing so is not for everyone.

Despite what some may believe, hearing those words may come with a negative pretext and connotation. When, in fact, it should be anything but negative. It should not be perceived as a harsh comment. From my perspective, the argument is not about whether or not someone should take an academic year off, but whether or not someone should pursue a degree from a higher education institute. I think most anyone can agree that college—not taking a year off—is not for everyone. It may seem like I just completely changed the argument. You are right! I did! I think people have a skewed idea of higher education, in general.

College is not for everyone because some people just flat-out struggle in a typical learning environment. Most of the time, those that struggle have no control over their setbacks. That is not to say that these individuals do not put 110% in their book learning—believe me, they do! I have worked with many disabled young people who poured their heart and soul into learning, and they still struggled. It broke my heart to see that their learning barrier was not something they could easily dismiss. I saw the perseverance and determination in their eyes. I could tell the answer was just on the tip of their tongue, but they could not get it. Now, why am I saying this? I am saying this because those same students who carried that learning barrier with them were some of the brightest and most advanced when it came to hands-on learning. So many of those students were great at operating complex machinery or understanding abnormal concepts in the technology world. Those students that sat in my office should not have been in a university setting, they should have been at a technical college where hands-on learning is the norm!

College is not for everyone because some people just do not like the rigid structure. Some people do not enjoy having to learn and complete things at a certain time. I am not meaning that in a negative way at all. Let me rephrase that through my own experiences: The biggest reason why I was okay with taking a year off is because I thrive off the typical higher education setting. I love learning in a classroom, the homework is not too bad sometimes either. I know myself well enough. Due to my overall enjoyment of learning, strong drive and motivation, I knew I could afford to take a year off and be fine. Now, that is not to say that the first month or so won’t be difficult because it will be. Thankfully, I am only taking a couple classes instead of a full load, which should help. However, not everyone is capable of doing that. Some people just need to go straight into the workforce. The people who don’t like the rigid structure that college requires are probably the same people that would prefer to just work their way up in a job field they like. There is nothing wrong with that!

With all that said, though, I think everyone should try some form of college at least once—whether it be online, a semester, a single class! However, chances are, if someone does not like the load that high school brought, college will not be any easier or better. But, some people do go to college just for the social aspect of it. A lot of times, people say college made up some of the best years of their lives. That may be true for some, yes. I do acknowledge other common reasons students attend college. I am not really for the social aspects of college. Do not get me wrong, I LOVED the people I met and the connections I made while I attended a junior college my first two years. But, I did not primarily seek out those connections when I started my undergraduate degree. My main goal and purpose in attending college back then and now is to academically excel! If great relationships come along the way, awesome! When you keep the focus of college to learn and challenge yourself, great connections come your way without any effort on your part. You have to keep your priorities straight, which is true no matter what season of life you are in.

All in all, whether you have a degree or not, never stop learning. And if you do go to college, make sure you get a degree in something you love! Make your learning something enjoyable! I cannot tell you how many people I know that go in to this field or that field solely for money or out of societal pressure. I hope and pray those are not your intentions. Regardless, to you fellow soon to be college folk, let us enjoy our last free moments before we get back to the grind. For those of you that are not going back to the grind, for whatever reason, make the most of the time without meddling homework assignments and late night study sessions.

Blessings,

Renata