by Carol Sokolsky
Antediluvian: “before the deluge.” It’s the interim between God putting a dream or desire in your heart and it being fulfilled, like Noah, who built an ark before he had any idea what rain looked like.
Am I equipped with the skills to help her work through the immense challenges she is facing? How can I possibly understand the life from which she has emerged? Dear Lord, what do I say if she calls me for help? She is so fragile and so vulnerable—and yet probably the strongest tiny human being I’ve ever met. And she is begging for someone to listen, to help guide her—someone who is truly safe.
Six months ago, I was approached to consider being a mentor for Women in Recovery (WIR), a program that is part of the Tulsa Area United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council. WIR is a fairly new program that gives women who have been incarcerated for nonviolent crimes a structured means to rebuild their lives. Each woman is assigned a mentor who is able to understand her goals, challenge and guide her, and be a safe place for her to share her story.
I’ve been praying that God would push me to take the next right step, one that would allow me to use my life—my story—to walk alongside someone who needs understanding. If only God would send me a map or point me in the right direction, I’d be very appreciative! The problem would be solved. If only…
A map… hmmm… I’m a journaling fool, and I write every day, pouring my heart into words that capture the moments that I’ve lived, questioned, and prayed over. At any given time, with several specific prayer journals in play, God has given me peace for what is in my heart…the good, the bad, and sometimes, the ugly. But oh, how I’ve met myself in my words.
I kept asking God for that map. I went to the One who is a lot more concerned with His promise than my performance, with developing my character to match my calling, and with holding me rather than what’s holding me back.
One day, I was having a conversation with a friend at a baby shower when the proverbial light bulb moment occurred. She shared about mentoring a woman in recovery; I shared about my time leading Celebrate Recovery (CR). We kept talking, and suddenly, I knew that God was leading me to a specific place with a specific need, but I didn’t yet understand the storyline. “Would I be interested in mentoring?” she asked. It was a literal “Aha!” moment—I had experience in coaching and mentoring! Why, yes, God, I thought thankfully. It was one of those next right steps.
I prayed about it, then spent a few months digesting the WIR program, processes, and training as I waited to be paired with my girl, whoever she turned out to be. I prayed to be challenged so that I could grow in this season of my life. Well, be careful what you ask for! I knew the moment I met her that she would be a handful! On the surface, she looked like she had it all together, but don’t we all sometimes? What a fireball! She’d been in the program for about two years, since its inception, and she hadn’t yet found the right person to push her, challenge her, and hold her accountable as she wanted—and needed—to be.
Am I that person? I surely hope so; only God knows. She and I have already developed a deep relationship based on sheer, brutal honesty. I am so grateful to have been born to parents that loved me, each other, and God. She was not so fortunate. So why me and not her? Grace, I guess. Yes, I’ve walked through some really hard seasons in my life—grief and pain that I didn’t think I could get past—but I got past them, and I’m thankful for the scars. I had such a strong support system—family, friends, professionals. She wasn’t that fortunate.
From my perspective, the beautiful thing about WIR is that I am free to make my faith part of her support system. She shares her faith openly, is an active member of Celebrate Recovery, and never ceases to amaze me. Oh, she has a past … but don’t we all? Her past doesn’t define her now; God does. She is very talented, she has a vision for her life that is realistic, she spends time every day with Jesus, and she works hard to meet her very specific goals. Talk about rebuilding from the rubble. She is replacing pain with purpose. And so am I—just from a different pile of rubble.
Antediluvian… I love this word. “Before the deluge”… Knowing that God has put a dream and desire in my heart to coach/mentor/write… Being able to use the experiences of my life to walk alongside others is becoming a reality for me. WIR needs strong women (especially women who love Jesus) to mentor women who need strength and hope, courage and vision. It’s not a walk in the park by any means, but it is about as rewarding as anything I could ask for, and it humbles me in every conversation. It’s life-saving for her; it’s life-giving to me—or maybe it’s the other way around. C. S. Lewis wrote, “If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable. Think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.”
I can’t wait to look back one day soon and see how God has changed both our lives simply because we were willing to be where He put us today.
Women in Recovery is hosting a luncheon on February 19th, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm, for anyone interested in mentoring. No obligation to become mentor, just information. (Limit to 20 attendees) For information, call Diane at 918.991.9142.
Carol Sokolsky is a newcomer to Tulsa. She relocated from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in October, 2014 after retiring from FedEx Services, Global Account Management. She spent most of her 33 FedEx years as a road warrior, leading a large global management team and serving one global customer for over 20 years. Her passion for blogging began in 2010 as she launched a two-year blog that chronicled the journey of her husband’s valiant fight with cancer and ultimately the end of his journey. Her blog became a book, “Sid’s Journey”. She continues to journal daily on just about everything!
You can also read about Carol’s experience at Cain’s Ballroom, her Journey Through Grief, having a life coach, why Tulsa is such a great place to live, kneel, her journey through losing a son, or her journey through a family member’s addiction.