Thursday, May 23, 2013

An Older Woman's Calling

It drives me crazy sometimes, but I hear it all the time.  Women who will say, "I raised my kids now it my time to do whatever I want."  As if their responsibilities are over and now life is just coasting along.  It sounds wonderful and during these demanding days of raising children this idea of one day napping and coasting along does sound appealing.  However, I have noticed that these same women who are now "coasting" are spending a lot of time griping, complaining, gossiping, and judging others.  They don't seem happy.  I have often wondered why that was.  Then last year when I did a Bible study on Biblical Womanhood I came across Titus chapter 2.

There is a reason these women are so unhappy.  This idea of having "served their time" is not Biblical.  That's right, this coasting is not Biblical.  Titus 2:3-5 says this clearly.

Titus 2:3-5 (NIV)
Likewise, teach older women to be reverent in the way they live, not as slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Lets look at this passage more closely.  First of all it says older women need to be taught to live reverently.  Why is this not taught at church?  I have gone to several churches and have never heard this taught.  Yet the passage is clear that older women are to be reverent in the way they live.  They are not to coast or do whatever they want.  They are to live intentionally.  What are they intentionally to do?  The passage also makes that clear as well.  Older women are to make sure they are not living carelessly which is what this coasting idea promotes.  Instead they are to teach what is good.  When they start doing that the passage says that they will train younger women to love their husbands and children.  Now that sounds like a simple thing to love your husband and children, but I will have to admit that loving my husband and children properly does not always come easily for me.  Sometimes it is just my own selfishness that gets in the way, but more often it is simply not knowing that when I do or say this thing or that I am communicating something different than what I intended.  Or the needs of my husband are so different than mine and I don't always know what those are.  I do not always interpret things right with my children and so the things I do might not be the thing that shows them love.  How many times I have longed for an older woman to listen and just support me while sorting these things out.  I know I am not alone because I have heard this from many other young moms as well.  I often wish an older woman would just hug reassure me sometimes.  Often times I would cry from the exhaustion or overwhelmed feelings inside (especially back during the time before my husband's brain surgery).  There has not been much of that in my experience with older women.  My experience has been harsh, critical judgement.  There are a couple of older women in particular who have felt it there place to uninvited share their thoughts with me and pull out every area of insecurity that I feel but would never say to anyone and throw it in my face.  That is not what the Lord intended and those women are sinning according to this passage.  If those same women would offer support to this mama then I might be more inclined to hear what they have to say.  Yes, I am still figuring out how to keep up with housekeeping.  I was not raised being taught those skills so I am learning and some days I will admit that those skills are quite lacking, but other days it goes along much better.  May be a better approach would be to offer some support and encouragement instead of judgement.  That is what this passage of scripture indicates is what the Lord intended.

The passage also says older women are to teach the younger women to be self-controlled and pure in how they live.  There are many ways that I could allow my indulgences to over take my life and some days I do not win in this.  Facebook is one of my big areas where I struggle with practicing self-control.  I love people and I love relationships.  I spend my days often times being bombarded with questions from six and eight year old minds.  I find it refreshing to be able to interact with other grown ups, but in our isolating culture that is not always possible to do face to face.  I know that I often tell my husband that I get on Facebook and am typically disappointed because I did not get what I was wanting.  I wanted real genuine fellowship or community, but Facebook is pseudo-fellowship and community.  I long for real genuine human interaction.  One of those relationships I long for is a mentoring older woman.

The passage also says to that older women should teach the younger women to be busy at home.  That means teach them not to be in other peoples business-- not to be up to date on the latest gossip, the latest pop culture, or up to date on soap operas and other television shows.  Younger women have great responsibilities.  They are raising the next generation-- the future of our world.  Then there is home management, being supportive of our husbands, serving at church, serving those in need in our community, the list could go on and on and on.  The older women are supposed to be helping women learn how to do these things well and be supportive of them as they manage these roles.  This does not mean giving a younger woman a list of rigid rules.  There is one ministry that says its purpose is to offer support to wives and mothers.  This ministry is full of rigid rules.  For example, they teach that if you feed your children store bought bread then you do not love them.  While I agree that homemade is always a good idea it is not realistic in my house to have homemade bread all the time.  I run the bread machine as often as I am able, but I lovingly fed my children PBJ on store bought bread yesterday.  That in no way indicates my love for them.  I have had rigid rules like this placed on me from so many women.  One woman let me know how much she disapproved of my folding laundry on the couch or the kitchen table instead of right when it was done in the dryer and fold it right on top of the dryer.  That was the only proper way to do laundry.  There was a time at church when my husband and I were both tired because we were up late talking.  We had some decisions to make so we talked after our sons went to bed and were up pretty late.  This woman criticized me telling me that a woman should not have input in the decision making process.  Rigid has not proven helpful.  How about supporting and nurturing the younger woman as she walks through this stage of her life instead.  That is what the passage is asking older women to do.

Another thing this passage says older women are to teach younger women is to be kind-- This does not always come easily for me, especially when I am tired, overwhelmed and stressed.  I know I am not alone in this either because I hear young moms tell me this very same thing.  One of the best things an older woman can do is to offer to take the kids for a couple of hours so that a mom can catch up on sleep or housework or whatever else is needed.  I know that for me personally this is the best way a person could help me in this area.  I have heard the same from other young moms.

The final thing specified in this passage is that older women are to teach younger women to be subject to their husbands-- I think that the woman at church was trying to tell me to be subject to my husband.  I really lack in this area and I think most wives do.  Part of that is because the art of being subject to our husbands has been lost in our culture.  Most older women have lost this art and can not pass it on because it was lost in the women's liberation movement.  Some of us women who are trying to get back to the idea of letting the Bible define our role are trying to learn to be subject to our husbands in the midst of a culture that very much does not respect this idea and quite honestly devalues men.

What happens when older women don't live out this passage?  Titus 2:5 says the word of God will be maligned.  When I look up the word malign it says, "having or showing intense often vicious ill will".  So when older women decide they have done their duty and now it is their time to do what they want or to coast from here they are dishonoring the Lord.  They are contributing to others maligning the Lord.  Our society is full of intense, vicious ill will to the things of the Lord we all have our part to play in both the problem and the solution.  However, the passage makes it clear what the older woman's role is to play.  So if you are an older woman reading this then I challenge you to evaluate your life in this area and ask the Holy Spirit to convict you in how you need to be living out Titus 2:3-5.  Present and future generations are depending on you.

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