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Part 2: The Other Side of Discipleship

So this is a two part blog on discipleship with this being part 2. So, if you missed part one posted on March 19, 2018 make sure to read both. Part one is from the perspective of the discipler and this part two blog is from the perspective of the discipled.

My name is Stephanie Kelleher, the woman who Kaitrin has discipled since 1999ish. There are lots of things that I believe similarly to the Valencia’s. One of those things is that you NEED people “up, across and down” in your life. If you don’t understand that idea, I encourage you to read Kaitrin’s blog from March 19th. She also introduces our relationship and explains a point that I want to echo—this is a meager attempt to capture the truths we’ve learned over the years about discipleship.

One of the thoughts that came to me as I read Kaitrin’s side of this topic is “deliverance is in the details”. Let’s explore the lessons — and examples — of being discipled.

  1. Discipleship takes intentional effort, consistency, investment, and commitment

Since my mid-twenties I’ve said that I need my children to have godly men and women in their lives who they will honor, respect and listen to. I remember that my mother would often tell me things that I wouldn’t listen to and then responding obediently when Kaitrin said the exact same thing. I’ve always been a pretty conservative person, never drank or smoked—my only vice (and what a vice it was) was boys. I completely understand the need to have a Holy Spirit filled role model mentor. In fact, as I prepare to give birth to my first child, I’m asking the Lord to provide a woman who is godly that Baby B can honor, who will lead her down a godly path when my little lady thinks her parents are dated, and out of touch.

It’s very interesting going from being a young person who was so closely mentored and poured into, to now being one who does the same. I get the benefit of deeply understanding my thoughts behind what I call my messiness and at the same time being living proof that the mess eventually gets cleaned up. There are young women around me who are going through similar situations that I’ve been in. To see them struggle reminds me of the long years and pain that I endured to become the woman I am today. Particularly, I’ve learned that, while the two often go hand in hand, everything that’s painful is not harmful. I’ve also recognized that the process to healing takes as much effort and intentionality, if not more as, the first step of deciding to be in a better place. Let me give you an example.

I remember very clearly hearing the Lord tell me to completely cut off a relationship with a man in my early twenties. Within the hour I did it. It was painful and overwhelming at the time. I’d been infatuated with this man since I was thirteen and we started a “relationship” when I was fifteen. Nevertheless, I prayed and cried and went to sleep. When I woke up the next day, the real work began. You see, I’d told this young man on multiple occasions before that I was finished with our relationship. This time, I needed a woman who’d “been there and done that” to come along side me and hold me accountable.

At this time Kaitrin and I were roommates. We’d already gone through the back and forth of me letting this man go for years. As a teenager, I’d call her in the middle of the night, she’d listen to the ridiculousness AGAIN, and encourage me AGAIN. We’d go out for dinner and talk through life…or not.

Finally, this time there was evidence that all the time, money, energy, etc Kaitrin spent was producing fruit. I remember being in the bathroom one day, hands surrendered to the Lord. I wanted so badly to call this man but I’d been taught to battle. I’d watched Kaitrin pray and war over other people, over herself and for me and I had gotten it. I stood bawling in heart ache, begging the Lord to deal with me in my current space. That was the first time of many she’d say these words: “I’m so excited about this.” What type of crazy comment was that to make in this moment of utter pain?! She went on to tell me that, while she knew it hurt, this was the place I needed to be in order to be healed from the bondage I was in. It was true and now I tell young women all the time how happy I am that they are in sure horrible emotional spaces! I know that God likes to heal broken spaces.

That experience of letting go was the beginning of my freedom. I battled with the thought of that man until I was dating my husband. In fact, one random evening when my husband and I were engaged, my mom left a voicemail saying that she’d run into this man from my past who she didn’t like at all. He left his number for me and wanted me to call. I immediately deleted the voicemail and called Kaitrin to process what I was feeling.

It didn’t take long to get over the shock of that call. By that time I’d truly been taught to resist the enemy.

2. Discipleship takes vulnerability and honesty

One of the first things Kaitrin ever told me was that she wasn’t God and that there may be a time that she’d fail me. I was taken aback by the statement at the time. But eventually she did fail me and it wasn’t the end of the world because she prepped me for it. The first time it happened, I remember being hurt, but apparently not so much that I even remember what happened.

The first big time Kaitrin disappointed me was when she got into the relationship she alluded to in the first part of this blog. At the time I knew something wasn’t right. Kaitrin became a little more distant than usual and I didn’t understand why. Eventually she told me about the relationship and over the years I learned more details as I matured and our relationship transitioned into friendship. Even though this was a huge deal for me as a young adult, I learned so much about confession and repentance from this event in Kaitrin’s life.

The most recent time I was disappointed by Kaitrin was the day she quit. That was earlier this month. Side note: if you haven’t read her blog titled “I May Have Quit, But I’m Not a Quitter!!!” you need to!

The Lord has called Kaitrin to do and be many things. Knowing and being part of the journey it has all been in preparation for her current season. However, it becomes overwhelming and sometime unbearable. Kaitrin and I were both battling the day she quit. I texted her to ask for prayer and she needed it just as badly. I took a few minutes to call. We prayed and cried went on about our day.

A few hours later she told me she couldn’t do it anymore…that this time what the Lord was asking of her was too much. My heart was broken. I knew that the season felt crushing, but I also knew that Lord had called her to it. I wondered about the souls her quitting would impact and how the Lord would handle Kaitrin’s heart…and failure. I didn’t know what to say. I just listened. I hurt for Kaitrin and what she must’ve felt in that moment…but deep down I knew it wasn’t as over a she felt.

As I prayed that night, I had few words. I was still a little shocked. The next day I called to see how Kaitrin was and the Lord was already working on getting her back to where she needed to be. My prayer became more confident by the end of the day and by the end of the week, everything was back to normal. Kaitrin was back to writing and blogging and being fierce again!

3. Discipleship takes courage and boldness

It’s so true! Now that I’m on the “other side” pouring truth in to young women and confronting them in their behavior, I understand and appreciate the courage it takes to be honest with people who don’t want to hear it.

I remember as a young woman not liking other women at all. I thought they were only good for gossip and drama, which a lot were at that age. I think one of the factors that changed my perception was realizing that there were a few women in my life who were willing to fight for and with me because they loved me and wanted to see me reach the full potential of who I could be. I understood that those women didn’t have to play the roles they did and that they could leave at any moment. I appreciated and still value the time and energy they spent dealing with me. In fact, in my late twenties, I began to intentionally get around older women in an effort to glean from their lives.

Now that I’ve transitioned into having influence in other women’s lives, I’ve learned that one of the most courageous things in leading is letting someone fail. I’ve never understood people who need to “learn the hard way”. It never made sense to me. Unfortunately, I’ve run into many teenage girls and young twenty-something year olds who value going through life’s lessons. In these cases, I understand that my role is to advise them in godly directions, let them make their choices, decisions, and mistakes and be available to them when they run into the wall I knew they would hit. I understand that while it’s frustrating to watch, there’s no room in discipleship relationships for “I told you so’s”. There’s only space for love and patience—the same love and patience that was extended to me when I didn’t get it.

4. I've grown just as much, if not more, than the person I'm discipling

Again, there's so much truth in this statement. As I’ve done life with Kaitrin, I’ve often told her how proud I am of the woman she’s becoming. Haha, the tables are definitely turning. The truth is, we’ve both influenced each other in ways that have made us both significantly better women. I can see the patience, love, boundaries, giftings and godliness both Kaitrin and I have developed and matured as a result of our relationship, but also from the other women in our lives.

It’s funny to read Kaitrin’s thoughts on our friendship now. To hear her say that she’s “on the receiving end of being discipled” by me is a little new, but it’s true. There are days that we’re on the phone and I’m reminding her of the truth of God’s word in her life and the victory we have in our battles.

This leads me to the last point…

5. If you remain steadfast and consistent, the relationship develops over time from discipleship to friendship and armor bearer

It’s been such a strange transition for the both of us going from a mentoring/discipleship relationship, to more like mother daughter, to adulthood and friendship.

I remember being all frustrated because I was a young twenty-something year old still being introduced as “one of the youth from my youth group”. In general, I was fighting to be acknowledged as an adult by my parents, coworkers and Kaitrin. I remember asking when I wasn’t going to be a kid to her anymore. I didn’t realize how impactful that question was to her at the time, but we still talk about it regularly.

I also remember the first time she introduced me as her friend. Woah! I was no kid but I was definitely not ready to be on the same level as her friends. I knew Kaitrin’s friends and they were not the kids from her youth group. For a while it was difficult for me to define who I thought Kaitrin was to me. For years I decided she was my godmother and somewhere along the journey, I realized we are friends. Maybe more like sisters at this point.

As we’ve talked about our relationship through the years and even as I’ve had the conversation recently of what godly discipleship is, I’m a little saddened to know that my friendship with Kaitrin isn’t the norm. It’s difficult to wrap my head around the fact that people don’t have a confidant who they can be totally honest with about who they are, what’s happening in their life, and where they need help.

I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that what started out as a discipleship relationship with Kaitrin has taken so many turns and come to this blog. I look forward to sharing more, in one space or another, as the journey continues.

In conclusion, my prayer is that the Lord sends you a Kaitrin!

A few moments of our life of discipleship

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