At every mentor training, we work together to brainstorm a list of the qualities a Braid mentor should strive to possess.
At the most recent training, someone added one I hadn’t seen on the list before: STUBBORN.
Slightly softer adjectives usually make the list – “persistent,” “patient,” “dedicated” – which are all great qualities to strive for.
But lately it has become evident that being part of a Braid team requires a bit more edge. It requires being stubborn.
In our culture, calling someone stubborn is more often an insult than a compliment, implying that you’re obstinate and uncooperative.
However, Chris and I have regularly described ourselves as stubborn people, and we have reflected that without that stubborn streak we both possess, we probably would not have made it through these first years of Braid and all the challenges of breaking into the foster system and building a nonprofit from the ground up. Our stubbornness has actually served us well.
In scripture readings for this week, Jesus tells his disciples: “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.” (Matthew 5:39-41)
While this passage has sometimes been misinterpreted to justify poor boundaries or even abuse, which we would never condone, I read it this week in a positive light, as a metaphorical illustration of how relentless Braid mentors have been in bringing grace and love to the youth we serve.
From each and every one of our teams we have heard stories of how mentors have kept going – how you regularly walk a second mile – when we would not have blamed you one bit for throwing in the towel.
Whether it is a facilitator’s repeated phone calls to a busy caregiver (or youth), rearranging schedules at the last minute when Plan A falls through, or just showing up the next week after a visit was unexpectedly cancelled, we have marveled at the ways Braid mentors have dusted yourselves off and continued walking with your youth, always wanting to bring the best of yourselves to them and finding new ways to do that.