Thursday, August 22, 2013

Three-Tiered Living-- It's Worth it

She drives up wearing pink oval sunglasses, blonde hair pulled into a loose pony tail. Jumping out of the car, N* ambles up, greeting us, and nodding warmly at the younger teen she is picking up. Taller with shorter; a woman in her twenties with a teen in high school, they are headed out on a mentoring/friend date.

I've watched this twenty-something woman grow up. Peering over piles of sticky pancakes when she was in middle school, we talked about the Psalms, and life, and friendships. Perched on tall coffee stools in high school, we had laughed and talked about boys, friendships, family, and our faith.

"Will you mentor me?" she asked once early on, and I was honored, humbled, and ill-equipped. I sought out books on mentoring, and we met regularly, opening up our lives, sharing prayer requests, and talking about what we were learning.

Years passed. N* graduated from high school, from college, and married a Jesus-loving man-- whom we had talked about and prayed for. (I think about our coffee dates now and smile at how God answers prayer.)

This summer she moved back to the region, my dear former youth group girl, now an adult female friend. Sitting in my backyard, we picked at stubby grass and laughed, opening up our lives. We shared what we had been learning, grinned at God's provision, and ended in quiet voices. "Can we pray about this....?"

"Oh, I'm doing a Bible study with K*," she said smiling while preparing to leave, mentioning one of my youth group girls. Brown-haired K*, with twinkling eyes and a determined attitude like her mama, she and I have had coffee dates too, talking about life, friends, families and faith. I see strength and compassion in her, and she is intentional about reaching out to her younger brothers and sisters.

Ahh, this full circle life! This pouring out of life from one person to the next. It is a beautiful thing, and one that brings life and joy. Learning from each other, young and old, we get to pull back the curtain on our lives, growing and praying together, in this three-tiered life. 

And the cycle doesn't stop with us three women. In my early years of parenting, I listened to N's mom in Bible studies, watching how she parented, and feeling relieved by her honesty and humanness; and I learn from K's mom too. N and all of my former teens-- now adults in their twenties and thirties, with their own jobs, homes, and families-- teach and inspire me often. And this current batch of teens in youth group, full of energy and enthusiasm? They teach me too.

And together, we learn and grow, pouring out and into each other. Beside me, I see them swivel to pour into others' lives as well, and it makes me smile.

Who is someone who poured into you when you were younger? 

Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose.

Photo credit #1
Photo credit #2

16 comments:

Floyd said...

That is so cool! What an awesome life and legacy you're building. Honoring our Father brings us and our loved ones honor. You've received and are a gift from God. Great post.

Jennifer Dougan said...

Hi Floyd,

It's a gift to me to be part of this circle. Thanks.

Jennifer
www.jenniferdougan.com

HisFireFly said...

giving, receiving, part of His circle, part of His plan, beautiful...

Brian Miller said...

ah this is very cool...its so great to see them grow up...and to see them touch other lifes....we are links in the chain you know....and the lifes we touch matter....made me smile big time...

Dolly@Soulstops said...

Dear Jennifer,
What an awesome testimony to how God has worked in your life and in the lives of these women...love it :)

T.J. Ellis said...

I've always wanted to mentor someone I think I have been not in a formal way. This is a great reminder!

Amber said...

Love this! It is inspiring and encouraging. Thanks for sharing! Found you from Emily's.

Jennifer Dougan said...

Brian,

"Links in the chain" and the "lives we touch matter." Yes, yes. :)

Thanks for stopping by.

Jennifer
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thank you, Hisfirefly.

have a great week,
Jennifer
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thanks, Dolly. How are you, friend?

Jennifer
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

TJ,

Hop in! You can do it, in humility and by actively seeking the Holy Spirit's leading and voice. We can only reflect out what we are putting in though. Convicting, huh? I gotta grab my Bible today, in fact...)

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thanks, Amber. Thank you for stopping in from Emily's IP link up. She's great, isn't she?

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer said...

So inspiring and such a blessing to understand that we are usually in BOTH roles of older and younger woman at once! It's spoken so perfectly in Titus! Great post!
Jennifer Whitten
http://stoppraylisten.blogspot.com

eggthoughts said...

I loved this post. It's something I've been thinking about a lot! I was so blessed with wonderful ladies who poured into my life when I was younger.. women in my church, my violin teacher, my youth pastor's wife. But as far as today-- I know I'm lacking that godly, wiser influence in my life. And I want to give in turn more to younger women, too.
~Frances

Anonymous said...

Tears of joy and blessing ran down my cheeks as I read this, thanking God for His blessing of women and the precious relationships that we have. Our hearts are knit together in generations of mentorship, love, trust, humility and honesty. Thank you Jen, you will always be a precious blessing in my life! I love you!

Jennifer Dougan said...

Hi Nora girl. My pleasure. :) "generations of mentorship..." --yes. :)

Jennifer
www.jenniferdougan.com