Over the last couple weeks, I mourned the loss of a dear friend and mentor. When I received the phone call that my senior year, high school guidance counselor was no longer with us on earth, I cried uncontrollably. This was a person who inspired me to attend the United States Naval Academy and cheered me on along the way. He was so proud of my accomplishments and to watch me grow. To me, he was an encourager, mentor, father figure, and friend. Visiting and gleaning words of wisdom from him was always one of the highlights of my trips home.
When I told my husband about this loss, the words could barely escape me. I finally settled my emotions, I wanted to consider, “What is it about this loss that is so devastating?” On the surface, I knew that I would miss him and wish I had the opportunity to say goodbye. After digging a little, however, the best conclusion I arrived at is, “I knew that I was loved by him.” As I thought about him and our relationship, my thoughts quickly carried me to another mentor and mutual friend we both lost earlier in the year. These gentlemen knew me when I started to dream about finding my place in the world. They knew me when I didn’t always have the best attitude, and when I made stupid mistakes more frequently. They saw something in me that I don’t think I knew was there, and they gently called it out. With them I was safe. I was loved.
Part of the healing process for me has been hearing all the stories of their lives of Christian faith and service to their families, churches, and communities. They were great friends and mentors to many. I prayed and listened to inspirational music on my drive home from South Carolina last week. I smiled with a full and overflowing heart of gratitude as I thought about, “What does it mean to have a life well lived?” I believe that is sure looks a lot like the lives of these gentlemen…their sacrifice, their service, their kindness and gentleness, their encouragement and dedication, their mentorship, and yes, their love.
When you have faithfully lived with integrity, changed the trajectory of so many children and adult lives, and have touched as many as they have, there is no more work to do. God is right when he calls his faithful servants, such as these men, home to be with him in all of his glory. He is right is invite them into his presence where there is no more suffering, pain, or death. He is right to reveal His love and care for us through the lives of people such as these. In this we know that we are loved. Although I am sad and miss them dearly, I thank God that I have been so favored and blessed to have been touched and loved by them. Therefore, I will continue to live and do for others what some many have sacrificially and faithfully done for me over the years.
How has your heart been captivated by a mentor’s love?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2015