Last year I partnered with Empowerment Station to conduct a Vision and Purpose Coaching workshop for the DC Mayor’s office on Returning Citizen Affairs. I wrote about the experience here. I left that day knowing that I wanted to do more to help returning female citizens and for the past few months I’ve been in training, preparing to work with them further as a mentor. 

Over the past few weeks I’ve been preparing to meet my mentee, going over my reading materials, wondering if she would like me, and praying that God would use me to help her prepare for the transition. I’ve been a mentor and mentee for years and I know the value of ‘the connection’ so naturally, I thought about whether or not we would connect immediately.

Last night was the night! After months of training and preparation, I headed over to the half-way house to finally meet my mentee through a facilitated group session with other mentors and mentees meeting for the first time. I wasn’t nervous; more so excited and anxious.

Moments after arriving, I was briefly (just enough time to exchange names) introduced to my mentee by the facilitator and then we were given instructions for an icebreaker. Individually we were to draw stick figures and write words to represent our ideal mentor/mentee characteristics. Once completed, we were paired with our mentees to discuss the characteristics we highlighted in our drawing.

I got chills as I read what my mentee wrote and silently said to God “Ok, I see You.” Here’s what she wrote:

  • Someone who will help me birth my purpose

  • Someone hands-on

  • Someone who will listen and is willing to learn with me

  • Someone who is a true definition of a leader and won’t mind walking into my life and showing me the right path to live intentionally

As I shared that I am a purpose coach, her face lit up and she said, “This is not a coincidence.” We talked at length about her goals and aspirations, boundaries she set for herself, faith, and accountability. I love what she shared about boundaries:

“I was sentenced to 36 years to life and served 16 of those years. I’ve set boundaries for myself and the people around me because I don’t have a choice. My freedom is at stake. If I get here late I can be sent back, so if I have to be here at 6:30, I get here by 6:15 because if I start saying ‘it’s just 6:15, I have 15 minutes,’ I will get comfortable and I can’t grow when I’m comfortable.”

Wow! What if we all looked at it that way? Let’s get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Some of the greatest periods of growth occur when we are being stretched, when things just aren’t ‘comfortable.’ We may not be at risk of incarceration but there is always something at stake.

No boundaries on your time? Others eat it up, you spend it with the wrong people, you’re tired all the time, and you give God your leftovers, if anything at all.

No boundaries on your finances? You spend frivolously, don’t save, don’t tithe, and go berserk when an unplanned expense is incurred.

We have to be willing to set boundaries on our time, resources, capacity, etc. If we don’t, we run the risk of taking on things that simply aren’t meant for us which can feel like a life sentence of pleasing everyone else, chasing their dreams, taking on their burdens, and ignoring the work God is calling us to do.