The Merit of Mentors

Like just about everyone out there, I enjoyed the latest Star Wars movie for a lot of reasons. One reason that’s really stuck with me, though, is the fact that it contains two scenes of older women (Leia and Maz Kanata, for those of you who care) encouraging and caring for a younger woman who isn’t related to them (Rey).** I appreciate these scenes not only because they’re pretty impossible to find in most action movies (insert discussion about the Bechdel test and society’s disregard for older women in general here), but because they remind me of the importance and value of mentoring relationships among women.  

Mentors have certainly been crucial and life-changing for me. Ever since I left home for college, God has graciously provided one woman in each place I’ve been who has served as my unofficial mentor/second mom, if you will. Obviously, while no one can ever replace my own mom, having older women in my life who care about me has given me a lot of comfort in her absence (and, hopefully, made her feel a little better about my being far away!).

But I’ve also learned things from them that I couldn’t learn from my own mom. For one thing, they’ve lived different lives and therefore have different perspectives to offer. It’s been good for me to see up-close that there are other, good ways of living the Christian life besides the particular way I was brought up. And because we’re not related, mentors also can provide an objectivity and outside perspective to my life and struggles that might feel awkward coming from my mom.

They’re also physically here, where I am, in my daily life. No matter how much I tell my mom about what I’m up to or how often she visits, she won’t have quite the same perspective as someone who’s around and who I can see every week. This isn’t to say that I don’t benefit from my mom’s advice or from anyone who isn’t local to me, but it’s just different. I think we need both.

And most importantly, these mentors meet a need that friends my own age, as wonderful and necessary as they are, can’t quite fill. As crucial as it is to have people in your corner who are in the same trenches and stage of life as you, it’s also imperative to know people who have been where you are and made it through. They’ve got the hindsight and the battle scars, and if we listen and learn from them, we might just be able to learn a few more things the easy way.

So if you’re lucky enough to have some kind of mentoring relationship in your life, say thank you. If you don’t, maybe you should look into it and pray for that opportunity. Titus 2 seems to indicate that it’s a pretty good idea, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

**Okay, before those of you who care freak out, I know that it’s possible (and in my opinion, quite likely) that Leia is related to Rey. But their interaction in the movie isn’t based on that premise.