For most of us, getting our yearly physical is one of our least favourite activities. Some dislike it so much they avoid going. Friends have shared that they have even let years slip by before they summon the courage to schedule an appointment.
So I am sure that this will sound rather unbelievable. But a few weeks ago when I left my doctor’s office, after having just had my physical, I walked towards my car feeling affirmed and encouraged. In fact, the appointment was a highlight of that week.
Now these feelings were not just a result of how stress-free my wonderful doctor makes the whole appointment. Nor were they specifically stemming from her kindness and caring. Although these things make her an excellent physician these were not the main reasons for my gratitude and full heart.
What most impacts me about the brief time we spend together is that we share our stories. We talk about our children and families, worries about our parents. We share our most recent challenges or blessings. Insights and wisdom gleaned from our experiences are woven into our discussions. And through the sharing we encourage one another.
I am older than she is, so often my stories reflect that I am a step ahead in this journey of life. She asks me things, and I share what I have learned or worked through. My children are also older than hers so we often find that I have just navigated my way through a stage of their lives just as she is entering it. Or often she will ask me about my parents and how I have faced the challenges of supporting an elderly parent, just as her parents are beginning to face similar struggles.
But likewise, she has so much to offer and teach me. She has gleaned so much wisdom through her experiences as a physician, working with so many diverse people, and being the mother of four children. I treasure both her wisdom and her willingness to learn.
At the end of that particular appointment, just as I was about to leave, she stopped me and took the moment to encourage me. She shared how much she appreciates me. She communicated that our talks inspire her; that she gains wisdom and feels more prepared to face the various trials and stages of life. She shared she appreciates my willingness to answer her questions and our resulting genuine and meaningful conversations.
I have been reflecting on this appointment and her encouragement. It struck me anew how mentoring can be both a structured, scheduled activity or a momentary, but meaningful, interaction. We must not underestimate the potential impact of the mentoring and encouragement that can exist within these informal, snapshots of time.
At the moment paths intersect there is a rich possibility for sharing wisdom. Knowledge can be exchanged that equips us for doing life just a little better, smoother, wiser, or in more fruitful ways. And these sacred intersections, while they may be brief, do have incredible potential to contribute to deep and meaningful connections.
If we seize these moments we have the power to impact and empower each other. Investing one’s heart, wisdom and time in another person communicates we care, and they matter. Validation occurs when nuggets of wisdom are received and appreciated.
And when we become intentional about these divine intersections we discover that we have companionship on our journey. We notice we are not alone. We find comfort when we stumble across another woman’s path and she chooses to help, guide, advise, or support us. Women, who are a little farther along the path or by having walked through something similar can exert positive influence, especially when we are walking through seasons full of pitfalls and hurdles. And when we are encouraged – confidence is bolstered, choices and efforts are affirmed and we are able to walk with greater assurance.
These brief intersections have such possibility. I hate that we might miss them because we are too busy, too distracted, or we are walking with our heads down. We need to look up and walk boldly into these providential, divine moments. And when we do, we will discover that there is a fertile soil for the fruits of wisdom to be shared, and mentoring and encouragement to occur.