I really never quite got to the point I wanted to make about women and midlife. I wanted to discuss a bit about finding a mentor to help you through it. Personally, other than my mom, who I got much closer to when raising children, at least in part because she and my sister in law were the only babysitters I could find, most of the time, I had not had a mentor since I was a youth. At that time I followed my spiritual mom around enough to probably drive her crazy, just because I really wanted to be a godly woman, and thought that was the way to learn how to do it. That worked out well for me at the time, but I never felt a need for that again. Maybe that’s not entirely true, I sure would have liked someone to help me figure out how to deal with men when I was in my twenties, but I hadn’t a clue how to go about finding one.
I actually stumbled into something like that during my mother’s illness though. It was a very roundabout thing. I started praying with my best friend and invited someone else into the group, because that was my intent, to have a prayer group. Friend #1 disappeared, then friend #2 hooked me up with an older lady. After a while friend #2 also disappeared and the lady and I had a twosome for a while. It was okay, though eventually all concerned decided we hadn’t the time to dedicate to it. I have to admit though, I didn’t really want to be mentored per se, because I had my own ways of doing things at home and with my kids, and at times the advice was contrary to that. I had to take things with a grain of salt. Basically, we were rather different personality types, which may not be what you want in a mentor.
At the same time though, I also joined a women’s study group at our church, which gave me a variety of new acquaintances, some near my age and others older or younger. I don’t know if it is unique to our church or what, but our group has developed into a wonderful support group of women who love Jesus and all have challenges in their lives. Our leader assures new visitors that we have people who are married, widowed, never married and divorced. We have dealt with the loss of spouses and parents, as well as helped one another through caring for aging parents, as well as raising kids and all the challenges that go with that. We do studies that help us with our Christian walk, often focused on prayer, sometimes topical or straight bible studies. But we always find time to pray one another through the hard times.
My personal take is that a mixed group, such as this, is more helpful at midlife than a mentoring one. When I said something recently about how I’ve been packing on the pounds lately, someone said we all have the same problem. No matter what you bring up, someone in the group will have some insight from personal experience, or else they are currently experiencing the same thing and can commiserate. We all know we can ask members of the group for help when we need it and that can cover everything from a food drop after a death in the family, to emergency child care when needed. I would never have dreamed of asking my friend in her 70’s for such help.
Mentors are great when you are young and really need help figuring out how to live the Christian life or maybe getting started parenting or in a job situation. Generally speaking, most of us would benefit from some intergenerational friendships. But the fact of the matter is, most of us need a network of people in our lives. When my life went crazy, I wanted someone who understood what that was like for a time, but it was rather short lived. Long term, a support group seems more able to flex with new and different situations. Just knowing that people are praying for you, or that there is someone to call if you need help, makes a huge difference. Isn’t that what the body of Christ is for?