On Instagram, I follow a whole bunch of strangers. I follow the Sartorialist (fashion photographer and blogger), Superwoman (Vlogger and Youtube sensation), Jamie Oliver (need I say more?) and a whole bunch of other folks who I am inspired by.
Through out my life, I’ve been inspired by others to do things, like when I was sixteen and I was inspired by my classmate to pierce my belly. There have been many men and women who’ve been my inspiration. And while on Instagram I can decide who to “follow” and who to “unfollow," real life doesn’t necessarily give me that option.
About a year ago, a man spoke at our Church and he explained that there are two types of people: Fans and Followers. He said there are people who like the man Jesus, would like to know about Him and are His fans, and then there are those inspired by Him to change their lifestyle to follow him, who become His followers.
While I was busy being inspired by men and women around me to cut my hair, pierce my nose, study law, intern with prestigious law firms, etc., there have been two women in particular who have inspired me to draw closer to God. Two women who helped me grow from being a Fan to a Follower.
In Delhi, I was twenty-one, rebellious, free-spirited and a bit of an idiot. I made some not-so-wise decisions, defended them with pride and then cried about them like a baby. Around this time I started going to a church (where honestly I was drawn by the soul stirring time of singing and real preaching, which I had never experienced before) and I heard about “discipleship." I didn’t really know what discipleship meant till I heard Emily, a pastor’s wife, share about it during a trip to Manali. It struck a chord in me. Emily merely talked about what discipleship was, how she had been discipled by someone and how the experience moved her. Spurred by this talk, I asked her a couple of months later, to disciple me. Emily was already discipling two other girls, and asked me whether I’d like to meet in a group or one on one. Emily and I then started meeting, one on one, and we read the book “Disciplines of a Godly Woman” by Barbara Hughes.
The book was moving, yes. But what moved me was not just the time we spent reading and praying together. We also spent time talking to each other and praying through our issues. What moved me was observing Emily, and the things she did so differently around the house. Emily had the best collection of teas, and she would unsparingly share them with those who would visit their home. I learnt how to host people by observing her. During my time there, my friendship with Emily inspired me to do things differently. Observing Emily, and her husband Sandeep, showed me for the first time what an “open home” was, as they adopted me as their own. I still remember once, while having a huge argument with my family, they sat with me, watched me weep and wail. Then, afterward they stated logically what was Biblical and godly for me to do. They’ve prayed with me through my failures, and through my emotional challenges.
The time to move from Delhi to Mumbai came when I was twenty-five, by which time, I was wiser, a little rough around the edges, but stronger in my faith. I missed my community of peeps in Delhi when I moved to Mumbai. I missed Sandeep and Emily and their family. But a new season in my life had come, and God didn’t leave me without inspiration.
In Mumbai, a couple, Aji and Anand, welcomed me into their home, their community and their church. Aji and Anand too had an open home and hosted many people throughout the week. I started confiding in Aji (who often times knew before I could tell her what was bothering me). Something Aji taught me when I moved to Mumbai, which took a while to understand, was to look inside and see what was the sin behind the sin causing my (let’s call it) behavioural disruptions.
Aji never condemned me, but patiently watched and prayed with me through my trials. Aji has been delightful to be around. She is someone I can cry with, laugh with, and rejoice with. She knows my insecurities (before I know about them) and prays for me, even when I don’t know it. I learnt to pray for people from Aji, because she prays everyday for the people in her heart.
Aji and her husband have discipled and counseled me through bitter arguments, angst and have gently reprimanded me when I was going off track. They’ve been such a huge source of inspiration and growth. When I've made mistakes, they helped me see what I did wrong, and didn’t condemn me, but accepted me the way I was. They’re extremely patient with me. What I love is the way they hug me after a time of catching up, it makes me feel welcome and accepted, no matter how heavy the discussion that preceded.
A couple of months after getting married I understood why God had placed two God-loving, home-opening couples in my life – to inspire my husband and I to do the same. I understood why God had placed Emily and Aji in my life – to help me grow as a disciple and follower of Jesus.
To put it in common parlance, any leader inadvertently mentors his/her juniors. Though most people would enjoy and benefit from professional mentoring, very few seek it spiritually. But the moment one becomes a follower of Jesus, you are His disciple, and He big “D” Disciples through the Holy Spirit. I love the Holy Spirit because the Bible calls him “an advocate:”
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. - John 14: 26
It’s like you have your own lawyer, except you don’t tell him what to do, he presents you with the options, and even better, He’s from GOD so you’ve got to believe me, he’s the best form of an “advocate" to have.
Many people shy away from discipleship because of the fear of accountability, and the lack of comfort with being mentored by anyone. But I’ve learnt that I am being discipled by people around me, whether they know it or not. Seasonally, everyone is called to serve somewhere, that is part and parcel of being a follower of Jesus. Discipleship varies from community to community. When I moved from Delhi to Mumbai, the church I moved into had a different style of discipleship than what I was used to. But what remained was the work of God. Regardless of where I go, I know that the Holy Spirit, aka the Advocate or the Spirit of Truth is with me and He disciples me through God’s word and through the people he’s placed in my life.
I’ve never been forced to do anything by those who’ve discipled me. They’ve always presented me with options and respected the decision I’ve taken. I love being discipled because it gives me a little glimpse into the love of God, the love of the Father, for me, His child. If discipleship is this precious, could you imagine how much more precious our time with God will be when Jesus comes back?
Looking back, I am grateful to God, for giving me wise and honest women in my life. It’s not easy dealing with me, but they’ve managed with God’s grace and strength and I wouldn’t trade a single moment with these lovely ladies who’ve helped me draw closer to God.
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