Who makes up your support network?

We all know how difficult life can be at times.  Striving to live according to God’s will for us can also be difficult.  Navigating all the distractions, detours and roadblocks can be easier with the help of a good support network.  In his book, “God’s Voice Within”, Father Mark Thibodeaux explains how crucial it is to have someone following close behind you, cheering you on, pointing to the false spirit and whispering tips in your ear.  His further explains how having good mentors, good companions and a strong link to the church makes for a great support network.

Mentors.  In today’s culture, the idea of having a mentor isn’t very popular.  We are bombarded with the idea of independence and having all the wisdom we need.  Or perhaps, we are just too busy to realize we don’t have all the answers and need someone who is actually wiser than we are.   Father Mark makes the point that everyone should have a good mentor that we visit with regularly and describes the qualities of a good mentor.  This person would be wiser but not necessarily older than you.  Your mentor may not be an expert on the particular topic you need to talk about; just a good listener.  She really believes in you.  She would never attempt to make a decision for you, even if you consciously or unconsciously push her to do so.  She shouldn’t be a close member of the family, an immediate supervisor at work, or a best friend.

Where do you find such a mentor?  You may already have someone who came to mind right away as you read the qualities listed. You might go for a visit and tell that person you would like their help in discerning a specific decision you may need to make.  If that person agrees to help, then you commit to visiting on a regular basis, i.e. weekly or monthly.  This type of mentor can also help you with issues of daily life.   However, there may be times when you have a need for mentoring in a specific area of your life.  It is similar to going to a medical specialist for a specific ailment.  You may find a need for a mentor in the area of writing, art, music, gardening.  Someone wiser and more experienced in these areas can offer help, advice and guidance.  In the case of your prayer life, you could seek out the help of a Spiritual Director.  This type of mentor has received training to listen for the movements of the spirit in a person’s prayer life and help her to notice the presence of  God and where he may be leading.

Companions.  Father Mark makes the distinction between a friend and a companion.  He explains a friend is someone who you would go out and have fun with, laugh and “hang out” with.  A companion is someone who truly wants me to be the best I can be and is never bossy or preachy.  I like to make the distinction like this – I might share a beer and a joke with a friend, but with a companion it’s a cup of coffee and a long talk.  As with a good mentor, a companion would be more advanced in the spiritual life than you are and are looking out for you.  You are able to share the deeper parts of yourself and your companion would share theirs with you.

Church.  When we get lost in the distractions, detours and roadblocks of life, we need the safe refuge of the church.  We are home there.  With its 2000 years of teaching and tradition, the church is a safe haven for those feeling desolation and fear.   The saints have so much wisdom to share with us.  Father Mark sites wonderful sources of wisdom:  Learn about surrendering to God’s will from St. Augustine.   From Mary we learn to trust in providence.  Reading about Maximillian Kolbe we learn about sacrifice.  From Francis of Assisi, we learn about poverty, from Francis Xavier we learn about passion for evangelization and from Therese’ of Lisieux, we learn about humility.   Such wisdom in the church is a treasure that is ours.

And, as Father Mark puts it, “When I feel lost, confused and frightened, the ritual of the church nourishes and strengthens me in a place too deep for words.  Ritual allows my body to act out what my soul is longing to articulate.  When I am spiritually starving, the Body and Blood are the rations that keep me alive another day.”

We all need a good, solid support network to sustain us, to nourish and guide us.  When you hear the same advice coming from the three parts of your support network, a decision becomes easier to make or the direction to take is clearer to see.  Who makes up your support network? 

Father Mark Thibodeaux’s book “God’s Voice Within” is wonderful and would be a great addition to your spiritual reading.



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Patricia Delcambre
    Jun 19, 2012 @ 18:44:40

    I think it is wise to be prompted occasionally to identify my support network and to re-examine those who are a part of It. It calls me to be more discerning about those who comprise that network. I can immediately identify a friend who is also a companion. We are able to connect in a deeper more meaningful way in so many areas, especially spirituality. After reading this article, I am reminded that if my life is out of balance, then I need to look more closely at the three areas Father Thibodeaux points out, three simple components that when working as one can produce profound results.


    • Joan Theriot-Broussard
      Jun 19, 2012 @ 19:19:14

      Thanks for your comments Pat. It is always a good idea to do a “checkup” on the ways we navigate to road God has laid before us. We wouldn’t want to take a wrong turn. A good mentor/companion is always watching out for us and will help to steer us back on track.
      I love Father Mark’s book, and highly recommend it. Have you read it?


  2. Patricia Delcambre
    Jun 20, 2012 @ 13:29:59

    I picked up Father Mark’s book and look forward to reading it. I already have Armchair Mystic and God I Have Issues (love the title). I will have to take my time with God’s Voice Within. It is one of those books that needs to be “tasted” then “digested”. 🙂


    • Joan Theriot-Broussard
      Jun 21, 2012 @ 14:02:08

      Yes, I agree, read a chapter at a time and then reflect on what you have learned. I am reading it as a book study with several fellow Spiritual Directors. We are enjoying it. I am here if you need help with any of it.


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