by Toni Morse
Every step I took felt like I was falling farther behind. The group I was hiking with was certainly younger and obviously more fit; as the trail grew steeper, the twenty-somethings hardly noticed. Undaunted by high altitude air and the increasing incline, they jaunted up the path with youthful cadence and lively conversation.
We were spending the day together as part of a mini retreat for work, a welcome respite from office cubicles and computer screens. Even as the gap widened between us, I delighted in the summer fresh air, the Colorado blue sky overhead, and the opportunity to slow down from the daily fast pace of life. And, as was intended, I was truly savoring the hike as a chance to think and reflect, walk and pray; I didn’t so much mind being by myself.
On the other hand, I was wrestling with pride. When had I become the “older lady in the group” falling behind when just yesterday I was one of them? On the inside, I still felt young. But I couldn’t deny feeling old in that moment, unable to keep the pace of the others. Truthfully, I was embarrassed that I lagged behind; we weren’t climbing a mountain, simply hiking a gentle trail and I had to stop to rest. The enemy taunted: Wasn’t I was “supposed to be” strong, capable, confident … at least able to keep up?
I pushed until I reached some shade where I could stop to rest, my heart pounding and each pulse suggesting discouragement. I took a drink of water and caught my breath when I saw a sweet young woman from our group who had noticed that I had fallen behind. Hanna slowed her pace and gracefully left her peers to come and walk with me. She met me there in that place of discouragement. She stood with me. Then she sweetly and humbly walked with me until we eventually caught up with the rest of the group.
I doubt she knows just how much her kindness affected me that day. I think Hanna was just being herself – thoughtful, kind, observant, attentive – the way God has wired her. Meanwhile, I was struggling with the disappointment of not being able to keep up and not wanting to look weak, or old, or whatever other lie the deceiver was trying to whisper in my ear, yet Hanna’s action spoke louder. She noticed me and walked with me.
I was humbled by her humility. As we walked and talked, I breathed hard and my legs ached, but my heart was refreshed. Later that night I pondered Hanna's simple act of kindness ... what a profound lesson in mentoring she lived out right in front of me. She noticed me and walked with me.
As a mentor, I want to be like Hanna. I want to train my eyes and heart to do more than merely glance at the people God has placed around me. I want to see them ... truly notice them and be available to meet them right where they are. The simplest action might be the single ounce of encouragement someone needs in that moment. Or it may be the start of a longer journey of mentorship. Regardless, whether we are young or old, we need each other on the journey, especially when the path gets steep.
… whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25b (NIV)
Toni Morse is a Colorado native freelance writer who loves Jesus, people, sunshine, traveling, coffee, and fresh flowers. She and her husband, Todd, live in the foothills of Colorado Springs and have five children. They'll celebrate 30 years of marriage this summer.
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