The best advice never taken was given by me to a mentee…”Stay Out of the Chocolate Factory.”
This morning I lingered in the book of Judges reading about brother Samson and his troubles. His life began with the most promising words, “So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson, and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him. And the Spirit of the Lord began to move upon him…” God was going to use this man of promise to defeat his people’s enemies, but a funny thing happened on the way to his destiny…his flesh got in the way. What in flames was Samson doing traipsing through a vineyard anyway? Note to self…when entering the enemy’s camp, expect to encounter some enemies!!! DUH! It seems as though instead of changing his atmosphere, the atmosphere changed him…getting caught up with the locals, eating, drinking, touching, playing house with everything and everyone that caused his demise. What is this tendency that we have to hear what is right for us, to be given a roadmap loaded with blessings in exchange for obedience; to be empowered by His Spirit, only to end up living out Plan B, which usually works out for our good (God is merciful); however, it ain’t Plan A.
Once upon a time I encountered a college aged girl at Target…she was a checker and she was checking me out in more ways than one. We chatted a bit and as I headed out the door, I heard the Holy Spirit instruct me to return, give her my phone number and offer to stay in touch. She was so appreciative and even said she had prayed for a mentor like me and wished we could stay in touch. That day marked the beginning of our Mr. Miyagi/Daniel-san relationship (reference to Karate Kid…one of my faves)!! 🙂
I poured in, she received and so it was with us as she became a fixture around our home. She was moving right along making great life choices..doing well in school, working and serving in church. At one point she “confessed” her guilt over getting a little intimate with her boyfriend when he was in town. It happened again another time and this time the enemy worked her over, convincing her that hers was a sin too great for her to be serving in church. She shared that intimacy was a weakness for her, but that she was fighting to maintain her virginity. I once again counseled her and prayed her off of that ledge and after a time, she was serving in church again and life was back to normal.
That summer, she announced her intent to spend some time reconnecting with her dad back east (where her boyfriend lived). She would be staying with her boyfriend and his mother. (Insert sound of needle being scratched over a record here.) “Not a good idea,” I said which was followed by an assurance that she had learned her lesson. They had made a promise to each other to wait until they were married to consummate their union, blah, blah, blah. Her mind was made up and there was no changing it. She left with my advice ringing in her ears….
I said something like this…”Say you have a weakness for chocolate, let’s say a chocolate easter bunny…one of those giant ones. You’ve been told that it’s not good for you and you really should stay away from it because the temptation would be too great to eat the whole thing and that could hurt! You ignore that wisdom thinking you could control yourself and so you nibble at the ear and before you know it that ear is gone and that wasn’t so bad, so you fix your eyes on the second ear….before you know it, you’ve thrown caution to the wind and have scarfed Peter Rabbit down in one sitting. My point is this…You cannot go near the chocolate factory…chocolate is your weakness so you need to stay away…in fact, you need to stay out of the chocolate factory altogether.”
She said okay, we hugged, she left and the next time I heard from her was via telephone (long distance) early one Sunday morning. She called to say hi and to tell me about a message on forgiveness she had heard at church. She said she had to call to forgive me for hurting her. (insert crickets here) – She was offended at my chocolate factory analogy and was holding it against me. When it was my turn to speak, I told her I stood by the analogy and challenged her to prove me wrong.
Two months later, I was at a bookstore and saw her seated on the floor reading. I approached her and we embraced and her body temperature gave away her secret. We chatted a moment and I walked away only to have her run after me to tell me one more thing that I already knew. Her baby was due in April and she was no longer with her boyfriend. As it turned out, there were things she discovered about him that had she known, would have altered her choices. I changed the subject and told her I was so happy she chose to keep her baby and to prepare for a hard time, but the Lord would see her through. (She had no real support system.) She said she recognized that things would be difficult but figured this was God’s will for her. I had to tell her that choosing life is always God’s will, but the timing of it all was hers. I left her that day feeling so bad for her and months later she came to mind again and I reached out once again.
That turned out to be a divine appointment since she needed the support. I held her hand through the last weeks of her pregnancy and was blessed to be present to hold her hand once again as she pushed that life into the world. I was there during the early days and moved on once I was certain that she could remove the training wheels and ride on her own.
Five years later, she has moved back east to be closer to a larger support system which includes her son’s father. They aren’t a family, but he is involved. She’s a great mother and is on track for a successful life — as a single mother, for now but having great hopes for her future. I’m certain that she wouldn’t have changed a thing about her journey thus far, as the love she feels for that boy has caused her to forget the difficult times she has endured…well, maybe she would have considered the timing of her choices..and maybe her choice of father and every other “maybe” she probably has to live with.
For the longest time, I thought that my mentoring days were over, until a whole new little crop sprung up around me. I fought it for a while until the Holy Spirit encouraged me about choices…everyone has them and it’s up to them to receive the truth or not; it’s up to me to be prayed up and not offer my opinion…just the truth.
How many of us forego His way for our way and settle for Plan B when Plan A was His desire for us? I’m grateful for His mercy, His kindness and His forgiveness when we do lose our way. I’m grateful for lessons learned for the next time…and there will always be a next time!