Is THIS The Reason You’re Spiritually Stuck?

Is This the Reason You're Spiritually STUCK? // jessconnell.com // Feeling like you've stopped growing? Eager to get out of neutral and start making some spiritual progress?

  • Are you spiritually “stuck?”
  • Feeling like you have questions but no answers?
  • Stagnant in life but unsure how to start growing again? 

I was 16 years old when it began. I was a coming-out-of-rebellion teen; she was a young mom (in her 20s) with 3 little ones. In free moments of my busy high school life, I’d hang out with her while she raised her little people. As we watched the kids splash in the pool and play with army men, she and I had conversations that formed a foundation for my own mothering choices that would begin just 6-7 years later.

Though we didn’t use this word, and it wasn’t anything formalized, she was my first “mentor.”

Playing with her kids, and talking about life, Scripture, and family came easily. The discomfort came when, a few years later, she would ask me questions like: “why do you think God didn’t let the two of you date & end up together the way you thought you would?”

I didn’t want to answer that question. To me, it reeked of my failure. It was, undoubtedly, because I didn’t deserve a guy like that.

Of course, now, in hindsight, I know why God didn’t let me date that guy: because God meant me for Doug. But at that time, the question unsettled me and challenged my thinking. Frustrated by the insufficient answer that came out of my lips, the question kept churning in my brain until the answer, eventually, came to rest on God and not on me. 

Later, when I was a young bride, she challenged me with questions like, “have you ever asked Doug if he thinks you take the lead too much in y’all’s relationship?” 

“No.”

“I’ll ask my husband if you ask yours.”

I gulped. I’m pretty sure we both did, cause she’s a pretty feisty gal too. But that night, we both went home and asked our husbands that hard question.

That one simple question, and the answer Doug gave (if you’re curious, it was, “yeah… sometimes…”) planted seeds for a season of growth. Over time it has rendered significant and powerful changes in our marriage that are at the core of who we are as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.

I’m so grateful for that heart-challenging question, asked by someone older and wiser. Over the years God refined my understanding of Him, myself, and His world through heart-probing questions like these.

The truth is this:

  • IT IS GOOD TO BE UNSETTLED.
  • IT IS GOOD TO HAVE YOUR THINKING CHALLENGED BY PEOPLE WHO ARE GODLIER THAN YOU ARE.
  • IT IS GOOD TO HAVE TO THINK THROUGH IDEAS THAT ARE DIFFERENT THAN THE ONES YOUR BRAIN NATURALLY COMES UP WITH ON ITS OWN

We don’t WANT to want these things, but we should want them.

Proverbs 13:20 tells us: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

Walk

Since that time, I’ve had a variety of mentors, short-term or long-term, in my life. Here are some of the characteristics I look for:

  • A woman farther down the road than I am- for me that has been in a variety of areas: parenting… keeping a clean & tidy home… raising godly, enjoyable children… hospitality… language learning (when we lived overseas)… homeschooling… Bible study… a gentle spirit. Each “mentor” has offered different things and possessed different strengths. I look for women who are strong in areas where I need to grow.
  • Someone who is godlier than I am- it is easy to spend time with someone who lets me “just be me” so I can “let it all hang out.” It is harder to spend time with someone who will call me out for faulty, unbiblical thinking, or who will make me aware of areas where I am weak. But it is BETTER to do the harder thing. I look for women who challenge me to be more like God, rather than women who make it easy for me to think “I’m doing all right.”
  • Someone who is available. It does me no good to keep “trying to get together” with someone whose schedule is already jam-packed. As a teen, I sat with my mentor in the middle of her busy-at-home life. When I was the busy-at-home mom, I spent time each week with a woman in her 50s who came over during nap time to prod me along in disciplined Bible study. Now that I’m a newly-postpartum-mom-of-7, it looks like going for walks each week with a newly-empty-nested mom. I look for women who are able and willing to make regular time together.

Just this week, I went walking with my friend and as I was telling her a story about my growing up years, she offered a different way of thinking about it. She was questioning part of the “frame” or “lens” through which I was looking at the story.

And you know what?

She was right. I needed to see it with more grace and less bitterness than I was. It was good for me to have her nudge me in a direction other than the one that came to me naturally.

COULD THIS SHAKE UP YOUR SPIRITUAL STAGNANCY?
  • Are you willing to have your thoughts challenged?
  • Could you grow by having a mentor that inspires you in an area where you are weak?
  • Are you spiritually stuck because you don’t have anyone around who calls out your faulty thinking? 

Look around your current “circle.” —-> Who has God put within your reach who is further down the road than you, godlier than you (or at least won’t excuse your sin/buy your excuses), and available for regular time together?
Perhaps you could reach out to her this week?

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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10 Responses

  1. Jessica says:

    This is absolutely the truth. A true friend and mentor will speak the truth even when it’s uncomfortable. A true mentor is humble and gentle but speaks truth in wisdom. I value my friends that are willing to bring a hard word at times as well as plenty of encouragement. I’m so thankful for my mentor I’ve known for almost my entire life. She lives far away but we email and chat almost daily and she’s been through so many trials with her children and health and she is a true worshiper of God. She’s sown so much in my life. I am so incredibly thankful for her life and how she loves to teach the younger women to receive love from God and in doing so loving their children and husbands well! This is a much needed topic today because so many women live in isolation. We as women need other older women to encourage us in godliness!

  2. Evie says:

    This is great. I loved being mentored a few years ago. If nothing else, the consistency of meeting was great for my soul. I always knew I could count on sitting down weekly with her, instead of like with a regular friendship where we’d say “we should get together sometime” (and it doesn’t really happen). I was formally mentored once before I was married and then again later when I was pregnant with my first baby. I also had been a mentor for a teenage girl at our church. Each time we picked a book and went through it together, although sometimes we would just sit and talk. I REALLY really miss having someone to challenge me and be a sounding board for all of the trials & struggles of motherhood. My husband doesn’t really check up on my spiritual health. Both of us are kind of undisciplined. He’s a great husband but just doesn’t hold me accountable much spiritually (even though I’m not sure what that would even look like). I now have 2 kids, one of them only 6m old. I am so, so lonely and feeling sort-of directionless/stagnant spiritually, like you said in your post, and I don’t know how to get my rear in gear to start pulling up my bootstraps. I have “fallen off the bandwagon” so to speak since becoming a mommy.. I don’t read my bible hardly ever and each day I hit the ground running. It would be great to pick another mommy’s brain about how to lessen the choas and become more intentional. These are all examples of things I’d need help with, so I feel like I’d send older women running for the hills :) I have SO many “life” and spiritual questions, yet I don’t want to dump on anyone like a therapy session. I think I’d really benefit from a formal mentoring situation, however, some ladies at my church tend to emphasize… “If you’re already been mentored, it’s time to mentor someone else”. Which is all well & good, but I still want an older woman to set me straight :)

    This is silly, but my hesitation is that I’d want someone to magically approach ME, because it feels really vulnerable to put myself out there and ask someone if they’d want to meet with me (since I can’t be sure if they REALLY want to or are just being nice).

    I think I just need to pray about God providing the right woman for me in my stage of life, and possibly for me to be that woman to someone else.

    I hope to one day be that “woman further down the road” to someone else, but right now I just feel so fainthearted myself! 😛

    • Evie says:

      Addendum … I have to add that my husband & I just had a really encouraging convo tonight! He was even using scripture to gently admonish :) So now I am eating my words!

  3. Caitlin says:

    This post really encouraged my heart. I have, at time, had mentors that have helped me in my spiritual walk, but as time has moved on, we’ve been separated by great distances. I know I need that constant challenge in my life, but I’m also at a point, with a new baby and no vehicle, that I’m not in the greatest position to get it. The last year and a half of my life have been so straining in my Christian walk. I got married, moves out-of-state, became a pastors wife at a church that was not good for our family, and then my husband got let go right before our baby was born, so we moved 1,000 miles to another state just a year after we moved initially.
    We are new here. We have his family, that as soon as we had a baby, they started questioning everything we do.
    I’m not sure where to look for a mentor here. Everyone I know here so far is pregnant or just had another baby (their 5th one!) so like you said, they have a jam-packed schedule.
    However, this did encourage me to look for someone to challenge and bless me, that I too, can bless and challenge.
    Thank you!

    Caitlin

    • Jess Connell says:

      Caitlin! What a difficult season you are in!

      Perhaps you could begin praying, and enlist someone in your life to faithfully pray with you, that God would give you a confidante where you are? It may be an older woman in your church, or it could be another pastor’s wife in your town… someone you can trust and be open with, share your heart with, and still be spurred on & challenged by.

      Given what you described, I would encourage you to try to look for someone outside your season of life. Someone not pregnant/raising little ones… look for someone 10+ years older than you (or 30 or 40!), with children older than yours.

      Open your nets wider than they are right now, and consider women with unlikely skills/gifts. Perhaps she had no children, but she has taught Bible studies for years… or she’s an amazingly welcoming hostess.

      Look at the women around you, look for what you CAN learn from her, and then see what God might open up to you.

      I pray God will give that to you. He has been faithful to see me through difficult seasons of loneliness, and to give me friends when I’ve needed it. I know He’ll be faithful to you too– either to bolster you there in your desert place, or to cause friendships to blossom and bloom in unexpected places.

      Hang in there and do not grow weary in well doing.

  4. Karen says:

    Jess – I’m interested to know some of the ways you have dealt with the importance of this but the reality of usually (ie always :) having your children around. Going for walks with someone has been great for me at times – but there are things which I want to discuss / ask / be asked but not want my children to hear the answers to…your thoughts? Thanks! Karen

    • Jess Connell says:

      Good question, Karen!

      For me, I’ve had to find pockets of availability within my normal life, for it to work. So, that’s looked like:
      * making time to visit before/after church,
      * attend a weekly ladies Bible study & take advantage of snack time or lunch afterward as an opportunity to visit/go deeper
      * Invite an older woman (without kids still in the home, or with older kids) to come over during nap time (plan to get the kids down right before she gets there so you can maximize your free time to visit, etc.)
      * Go walking with a friend once Doug gets home from work.
      * Go somewhere like a park with the kids in tow, but talk while they’re distracted/safely playing (you can sit far enough away or talk with enough codewords and discretion that they don’t pick up on sensitive topics)
      * Invite a friend over to sit and visit while the kids run free in the fenced yard.
      * Go out after the kids are in bed (I haven’t done this one regularly, but it is an option I use occasionally)
      * Stay late after church & visit while the kids play
      * Take advantage of times when the kids are in a nursery/care setting whenever possible (at our church, that’s just for the sunday school hour, but that is a time when I can sit near and go incrementally deeper with other women)

      Also, Doug & I have made it a priority for me to be at events for women at church whenever possible. Baby showers, Bible studies, women’s events, etc… so when there is one of those events, we try to work it out for me to go so that I can make the most of times with women in our local church Body.

      Hope this helps give you a few ideas!

  5. Kondwani says:

    I find the discussion about availability interesting and challenging.

    I am probably *that* woman who has a packed schedule and can’t manage to make a date less than a month ahead. But on the other hand, if you catch me day to day and are happy to walk with me in doing what I am doing – often being outside somewhere with my children/ cooking a meal/ playing with the boys – then you can build a relationship with me (and there are a couple of students who do pop round several times per week just to hang out, with no expectations of deep focussed conversations, but it does build incrementally). What I cannot do is schedule ‘going out for coffee’ and spending several hours together on a regular basis. But I can share my life, to the extent that is possible with young children.

    I sometimes do long to be able to have a full conversation with somebody – right now, it often seems to be snatched, to contain a lot of code, to be interrupted constantly.

    You seem to manage it well Jess, but for homeschooling parents with no family support etc, it can just be so difficult! Or is that an excuse? I wonder…..

  1. December 8, 2016

    […] you connecting with other women in the Body of […]

  2. December 31, 2016

    […] Is This The Reason You’re Spiritually Stuck? This one thing has made a real difference in my life. […]

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