one reason you shouldn’t ditch the spaghetti luncheon

Written by Amy L. Sullivan

SERVE Editor Word lover. Book devourer. Music addict. Amy is a Northern girl who found herself living in the South. She drinks sweet tea, turns her nose up at okra, and attempts to tell her daughters "yella" isn't a color.

March 28, 2013

spiritual mentor

My spiritual mentor is tiny in stature, yet fierce in strength. If you walked into a room, you wouldn’t notice her. Soft spoken voice and quiet laugh, she blends into a crowd.

I met Eileen when my husband and I attended a lunch at a new church. Before we walked through the gymnasium doors, I scanned the room, and quickly directed my husband to make a run for it.

The room sat empty, and you know what an empty room means, lots of time for chit-chat and you know what chit-chat means, people trying to connect with you, and you know what people trying to connect with you means, potential relationships.

“We can just pretend we were looking for a bathroom,” I pleaded.

Too late.

“There’s a table for all of us right here,” Eileen motioned. I wanted to point out there was a table for us anywhere in the empty room, but instead, we followed along.

And that’s when it started. Eileen’s pointed questions and intensive listening.

She learned my husband and I were newlyweds residing in a new state. We slept on an eggshell cushion minus the mattress and ate every variety of pasta off a handmade coffee table minus chairs.

Eileen laughed and shared about her own early beginnings. A week later, she and her husband showed up at our apartment with a folding table and four chairs.

She saw a need and showed up.

Eileen and I started meeting once a week in coffee shops and parks, and we began reading the Bible.

I explained how people should come to Jesus cleaned up, and she reinforced God accepted us as we are.

I confessed marriage was harder than I thought, she agreed and promised it would get easier.

I deemed the Bible one big mess of crazy stories, and she prayed and taught me about life in ancient times.

 But Eileen’s support didn’t end there.

Eileen and her husband thought there were more newly married couples who might need mentoring, and so they started a class which grew into twenty-six couples. That group of young married couples saw each other through new jobs and fierce heartbreak, the loss of parents and the birth of babies.

Our group camped and skied and found ourselves in spelunking in underground caves. We celebrated Thanksgiving with overcooked turkeys and Easter with plastic eggs, and together, our group of young couples witnessed strangers morphing into family.

Eileen stood in back of it all. Quietly encouraging and constantly praying.

Years passed and our group wasn’t considered newly married any more. Eileen and I met less. Couples relocated and forged on in new stages of life and our newly married group dissolved.

I assumed that would be the end. After all, that was eleven years ago.

This year, I received a Christmas card from Eileen and her husband. In a picture included on the card, they were planted in the middle of a group of fresh-faced young married couples. I smiled as I wondered which couple they cornered at the spaghetti luncheon and how many people have been impacted by a quiet woman with a soft laugh and an unshakeable love for God.

 Your turn. I’d love to hear about your spiritual mentor. Tell, tell.

Image credit.

24 Comments

  1. Shelly Miller

    Love this Amy. I’ve had spiritual mentors during different seasons of my life, but that one, the newly married with little ones, I think its the most important season for mentoring. I don’t have one at the moment but I’m workin’ on it. Your story actually brought back lots of fond memories of my own spaghetti dinners. And I think those years of the card table without chairs in the kitchen are some of the best ones.

    Reply
    • Amy L. Sullivan

      Shelly,
      Isn’t it funny how quickly we want to race from those years when we are in them? If only we had _____________ (fill in the blank), but looking back, I long for the simplicity of eating a $3.00 meal off a coffee table! Thanks for reading.

      Reply
  2. Lisa Van Engen

    Beautiful. Quietly encouraging and constantly praying, I hope for that :). When my husband and I job shared a youth ministry position (while he finished seminary) a Mom of one our youth group families took me under her wing. She meet with me once a week, prayed for me and taught me how to navigate the deep waters of what those teenagers were experiencing. I was so thankful for her presence.

    Reply
    • Amy L. Sullivan

      Lisa,
      I’m so thankful for women who decide to live life right beside us. I’m so glad that mom engaged you in a relationship. I wonder if you two are still close…

      Reply
  3. Erin Bishop

    Amy, I love this. This is the Church being Jesus, right here. We need more Eileen’s and her husband. I seriously think I felt my heart smile.

    Love, Erin

    Reply
    • Amy L. Sullivan

      Erin,
      Thanks, lady. I love it when the Church steps it up…this is a perfect example.

      Reply
      • Amy L. Sullivan

        Oh, and I didn’t even mention a fact that Bob and Eileen gifted our best friends a car once. Yep, true story.

        Reply
  4. Elizabeth Marshall

    Amy this drips promise and faithfulness and unconditional love and so many fruits of the spirit too. Girl, your prose is a gift. And your heart for the hurting a needed instrument in this world filled with pain. You love deeply and I am privileged to watch it.

    Reply
    • Amy L. Sullivan

      Elizabeth,Thanks for your kind words…right back at you.

      Reply
  5. Lori McClure

    I can totally relate to wanting to ditch the spaghetti lunches 🙂 And, I love the rest of the story about Elaine. My Eileen is Ms. Diane, and I will forever be grateful for her spiritual mentoring in my life. You made me want to call her just to hear her voice. Great post, A.

    Reply
  6. Kristin Lee Bridgman

    I have a similiar story. I walked into a church room that was for mentors and mentees. I went thinking mentors would be little old ladies with gray hair, that is what I wanted, and there was no one in the room looking like that. I started to leave but two ladies stopped me and asked me to come back into the room. I did. They gave me Carolyn, a beautiful, well put together woman only 7 years older than me and no gray hair! This is not what I wanted but I decided to stay and give it a try. Carolyn and I met every week for the next 6 months and connected right away. She wasn’t that much older chronologically but she was ahead of me in her spiritual walk. I came to love this woman and we are best friends now. The mentoring class was over years ago, but she still continues to teach and laugh and love with me. I will be forever grateful that those two women caught me and brought me back into that room! And I learned something. . . a mentor does not have to be a little old lady with gray hair;)

    Reply
    • Amy L. Sullivan

      Why do we always picture mentors as little and old? I jut started meeting with a new mentor…she’s hip and sassy and sells vintage clothes. Love that you are still close, Kristin.

      Reply
  7. SimplyDarlene

    “We can just pretend we’re looking for a bathroom” never works with spouses because how often does the mister go with the miss to tinkle? Nice try, though.

    I reckon my first spiritual mentor was my pastor’s wife… we actually bonded over our insulin infusion pumps.

    BLessings.

    Reply
    • Amy L. Sullivan

      Darlene,
      Ha! No, I guess it didn’t make any sense…especially since it takes husbands a little longer to pick up those subtle hints.

      Insulin infusion pumps? That sounds like the beginning of a good story.

      Reply
  8. Jeffrey

    Spiritual mentors are special people. They are not neccesarily “friends” you hang out with, but a person that helps create a meaningful relationship. Not interested in the superficial trap that can limit a relationship. I’m thankful for my mentor giving me the opportunity to go deeper.

    Reply
  9. loraineandheath

    I love this. And I can’t help but wish I were more like Eileen. Asking questions, intently listening,all the while content to pray in he background. Great post and great woman, that Eileen!

    Reply
  10. soulstops

    Oh, what a blessing and gift to have had Eileen in your life, and I love how you highlighted her…a woman faithfully loving and praying where God has placed her…there was a very difficult season in my life where God gifted me with a small group leader, Kim, for 9 months, and she changed my life with her love, listening and prayers…Happy Easter, Amy, to you and yours 🙂

    Reply
    • Amy L. Sullivan

      Yeah for women like Kim…Happy Easter to you too, Dolly.

      Reply
  11. Kendal Privette

    i want to be like eileen when i grow up….

    Reply
  12. bluecottonmemory

    Joan who said about her generation, “We so need to be needed” She became my spiritual mother. She sounds like your Eileen:)

    Reply
    • Amy L. Sullivan

      You know, that’s a great point…it involves the other person being needed as well.

      Reply

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one reason you shouldn’t ditch the spaghetti luncheon

by Amy L. Sullivan time to read: 3 min
24