"Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God." (Titus 2:3-5)
When I first read these verses, I was tempted to make some cuts and pretty them up for you. I mean, who really wants to picture drunk old ladies sitting around gossiping the day away? But despite all of that, I love the image that James has painted in these verses. In our society today, older women (and men for that matter, but that's a different post for a different day) are often cast aside and deemed "not worthy" or "no longer valuable." And we couldn't be more wrong if we tried to be! Older women are so full of knowledge and invaluable life experience that we are stupid to ignore all that they have to offer in the way of advice.
In my family, for example, I have (or had in some cases) women who have beautiful cursive handwriting, serious typing skills, the ability to crochet, some amazing family recipes to share, stellar marriages, successful children, impressive stick-to-it-iveness, the patience of ten saints (okay, I'm exaggerating), a lovely adoration for animals, hilarious senses of humor, the ability to think outside of the box, empathy coming out of every crevice, fierce loyalty, and much more. And that's just off the top of my head.
If one of the things that I'm trying to work on is patience and I know that my mom is extremely patient, for example, wouldn't it be ridiculous to not allow her to come alongside me and mentor me in this area? 2 Corinthians 1:4 talks about this very idea. Paul wrote there that we go through things with God sometimes and are then able to come alongside others to help them as they go through those things.
When I was a little girl just learning cursive, I needed a lot of practice. So do you know what my mom did? She followed this idea that James outlines exactly and connected me with my Great Grandma. For years, that sweet woman wrote me beautiful letters in her scrawling cursive handwriting so that I could practice reading it. She added prayers for my life and told me all about what she was doing hundreds of miles away from me. She looked forward to each and every one of my letters that I painstakingly wrote in broken cursive. Those letters helped me develop that simple skill (and honestly so much more) while giving my Great Grandma a connection with a family member, one that I still value so many years later though she went to heaven long ago.
God put the need for relationship into every single human heart. He created us to desire fellowship with one another because we often need it in order to grow to our fullest potential in Christ. How can we develop patience if we never practice that skill on others? How can we demonstrate fierce loyalty without someone to whom we are actively fiercely loyal? Can you become a better cook or baker if you never practice? Will your writing ever be pretty like my Great Grandma's if you don't take the time to make it so?
This amazing relationship between older and younger women that James is describing here serves both sides. On the younger side, new skills are developed. Old skills are lifted up and strengthened. A beautiful bond is formed between a younger woman and her older counterpart. On the older side, new friendships are forged. A previously lost worth is found again. A crazy, horrible time in her life suddenly makes some tiny degree of sense as she comes alongside a younger woman going through the same thing she experienced five years ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago.
And we should never be just one or the other. I'm only 35 years old right now, hardly old by any stretch of the imagination, but I play the younger woman to lots of older women in my life while also playing the older woman to many younger women in my life. We can and should be both through just about every part of our lives because there are lessons to be learned from both sides.
Today I went to end with these questions:
1. How do you feel about this idea of mentoring other women?
2. Who are you playing mentor to as an older woman? If there's no one yet, who could you be mentoring? Think about younger women at church, maybe join a Mom's Group as a Mentor, serve in a kids' class, etc.
3. Who are the mentors that you are valuing in your life right now?
4. Are there any older women in your life that you aren't valuing? What do you think God wants you to learn from them (because they are there for a reason!)?
And finally, my prayer for our day today is wrapped beautifully in these verses from the end of Titus 2:
"For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed." (Titus 2:11-13)