“In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care. You must care. You don’t have to know how many square miles are in Idaho, you don’t need to know what is the chemical makeup of chemistry, or of blood or water. Know what you know and care about the person, care about what you know and care about the person you’re sharing with.” -Maya Angelou

My mentor passed away eight years ago. Some days it reopens up the wound created almost a decade ago, but most days the scar remains intact. I have become so accustomed to her being gone that I no longer hear her haunting voice in the cutting wind. There is one thing I will never forget though: the feeling of having someone listen to you with a piercing stare in their eyes and knowing they are truly hearing and diving into what you feel is reminiscent of an old sweatshirt, one worn with age, but familiar to the senses. A mentor is comforting.

I want to be that to someone else. It is a trying responsibility, but one I cherish. I have the privilege of spending a few hours every week with an incredible group of (pre)teen girls. Most times when we get together we just laugh. I am talking about insane, deep from the soul giggles. We share tears and smiles. I am talking about crack your face wide open grins from even the most solemn of girls. Sometimes we don’t even discuss theology because there is drama to sift through, someone’s boyfriend is being hurtful, and/or a new movie is coming out. We talk about any and everything. We also eat a lot of food because calories don’t count when you’re having fun. I have known some of these girls since they were toddlers. Some have only recently joined the group. Each one of them is precious. Let’s be honest, sometimes it is hard to describe a middle-school girl. I know, I was one at one time. Eons ago, according to them.

Me: “I didn’t have SnapChat or Twitter or Facebook when I was your age. Or whatever else you guys have now.”
Girls: “Oh! Because your mom wouldn’t let you?”
Me: “No, baby, because it didn’t exist.”
Girls (horrified look) : “What?!? How old are you??”

They say things that are either the deepest thing I have ever heard or the strangest. It is often a tossup between the two. They are the best people to laugh with because they are not yet to that stage where they are too cool to laugh at themselves. Not yet to the point where I am an embarrassment; I can still have lunch with them at school. They also are not too old to jump in my lap or too cool to play with my hair. They change lives everywhere they go and for some, that is worldwide. 2016 is quickly coming to an end and with that comes the flood of memories, both good and bad. In this new year there will be 365 days of opportunity. I do not want them, my girls, to waste a single second of it.

My precious girls,

Never cry with someone you cannot laugh with. Laugh a little every day. Laugh a lot some days. Find the joy in the small things. Realize that words are important and lasting. Hang on a little tighter when someone hugs you. Sing a little louder. Dance a little more wildly. Open up your heart a little wider. Stretch that love a little longer. Make sure others are taken care of first. Stop and smell the flowers that grow in the meadow. Watch the waves crash into the shore. Gaze at the stars and lose your fear of the night. Listen to the sound of the birds in the morning and the crickets in the evening. Linger in the moments that will one day make you catch your breath. Open your eyes darlings and only close them when the time is right. Let love in, but more importantly, give away love recklessly. Pray pray pray and then pray some more. Stay the course.

I love you all! ❤️ -J

 

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