I sat one evening at our kitchen table and watched as my son sobbed, rubbed his temples and yanked a fistful of his hair. He shoved his math homework at me and hollered, “I’m stupid!”
I gently slid the paper back. “Let’s walk through this again.” More tears. It was fourth grade. The answers were obvious to me but my son had to discover them on his own. My task was to stay present with him — long after his siblings trotted off to play. It was on me to lead him through this moment.
In a similar way, transformation of the soul often comes as someone sits beside us with a wise perspective and a calmer heart, much like a midwife helping to deliver a baby or a seasoned leader who gracefully guides young leaders. Our souls ache for others who will gift us with presence so we might find:
– wisdom beyond our experiences
– kindness beyond our feelings
– patience beyond our urge to control
– trust beyond fear
– love beyond self
Jesus knew we needed this presence when he said, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:25-27) The Spirit’s fruit of love, patience, perseverance, and other traits doesn’t come automatically. It comes through travail. It is nurtured in the womb of suffering and one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to mentor us as we bear the fruit of God in our lives. The Spirit labors with us and tarries with us and broods over the dark deep places in us to get us through the storms and into the arms of Jesus.
Each of us is a potential mentor. Mentoring and befriending begins with presence. It is being in the moment with what is. What is happening in the lives of people around you? In our rapid-fire culture that thrives on impulsive decisions and frenetic activity, we must slow our pace enough to share the gift of our presence with others. Or, receive that same gift so that we might grow. What it might take for you to sit and mentor or befriend another? Your presence is needed now. God’s great gift to our communities is our presence with one another. So keep watch, slow your heart and be present in the way of Jesus so that we can help bring forth transformation.