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On the Side - November 2017

Someone Ahead, Someone Behind

by Shelly Wyrick

Costco delivers. We were at my friend Ingrid’s house for brunch when the delivery arrived. On a Sunday. Can you imagine the world’s largest members-only warehouse delivering to your home? Four gallons of milk. Two bags of dog food. Three loaves of French bread vacuum-wrapped together! Could we have it all brought to our doorsteps?

Not really. The delivery was more of an answered prayer than an online order. Too recently, Ingrid’s mama had gone to heaven. Their relationship had been closer than close, and was dearly missed. So Ingrid prayed. Not for a replacement, but for a motherly figure to come along and be a mentor. The Lord heard and answered with Renny, a wise woman of God who pours time and love into Ingrid’s life…and just happens to make a regular run to Costco for her.

What would it look like if a woman ahead of you reached back to be your mentor? Someone ahead of you in age, or life phase, or spiritual walk? And on the flip side, how would it look if you turned yourself and helped someone coming along behind you? Our Pastor, Joe Wittwer, is responsible for putting this idea in my head, calling our congregation to think “generationally” and consider those ahead of us and those behind.

There are numerous examples of this in the Bible. Look at Naomi and Ruth. Ruth grew up in a culture that rejected the living God, yet she had the humility and wisdom to look to her mother-in-law Naomi. “…Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16, NLT). Ruth saw Naomi as someone who was ahead of her, in both age and faith, and glammed onto her. As a result, this influence of faith forever changed the trajectory of Ruth’s life. Naomi was someone ahead.

Take Paul and Timothy. Paul turned and looked back, to someone who was behind him in both age and faith, and he saw Timothy. The mentorship grew so deep that Paul even referred to Timothy as “my true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2, NLT). Timothy was someone behind.

This concept of “someone ahead and someone behind” has an abundance of opportunity for us, as wives of residents, fellows and healthcare professionals. As a brand-new mom, I remember attending a function at a stranger’s home. The host was the wife of a nearly finished fellow and a seasoned mom. In other words, her husband was ahead of mine, and she, in her life phase, was ahead of me. Before I left her home that day she gave me love, wisdom and several homemade frozen meals. It was so impressionable I’m still talking about it 10 years later. She reached back.

Next month, I will host a handful of first year medical students in my home for their CMDA meeting. First years! I recall vividly standing up in the audience to snap a photo of my husband on stage receiving his rather short white coat. Now that his coat is a bit longer, I have the opportunity to reach back and love on these first year medical students.

Likewise, I know exactly who my Paul and Naomi are…the Godly people in my life who are ahead of me in their faith walk. My Naomi’s name is Ann (although Ann is unaware because she’s the kind of woman pouring into many lives.) She is my go-to-gal when I need wise council.

How about you? Do you have someone ahead and someone behind? Start praying about it...who knows…maybe Costco will deliver.


Shelly is a physical therapist turned play-at-home-mom of four kids. Among other accomplishments, she conquers Costco about once a month. Shelly adores Jesus, her old-fashioned manly-man of a husband and dark coffee. She also enjoys writing, jogging and being out of doors with her family.

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