Confession: The most important thing I’ve learned in the last three years of my life—
(are you ready?)
… is… to… ASK!
***beep, beep, beep—this is me backing up to begin at the beginning***
For most of us, the Biblical command for older women to teach the younger women is familiar; old hat.
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
But I think we may have a hazy idea that this means waiting until a dear old saint lays a hand on our shoulder some Sunday morning and says, “Honey, I’ve noticed your struggle. Would you like to talk?”
Then—ahhh. She will take us under her wing; she will walk with us; she will breathe forth words of life; in fulfilling the Biblical mandate, she will enable our lives to flourish.
What is she waiting for? Let’s do this already.
I remember going out for coffee two or three years ago with a good lady, not quite twice my age, and talking to her about my desire for more input. She said, “Shari, you’re going to have to ask.”
If you’re like me, a hundred objections pop rapidly to the fore.
- Shouldn’t the older woman be the one to take the initiative?
- What if she says no?
- I don’t want to obligate her to listen to me if she don’t want to—
- I know she’s really busy.
- Surely if I just hang in there a while, I can find the answers for myself…?
All very nice objections, very rational, very pretty. Well done.
Now. Imagine for just one minute that YOU (as you are) are the older woman. Do you feel like “an aged woman, in behavior as becometh holiness”? particularly wise? with lots to offer?
Or do you hear the Other hundred objections popping?
- Why would she want to open her heart to me?
- She looks like she’s doing well.
- I’m not very old myself—(or, I’m too old—); do I have anything to offer?
- I am busy… and she is too.
- There are so many books for women nowadays—they say it better than I ever could.
- How can I walk up to a young, apparently put-together young lady and say “Would you like to talk to me?”
You see? It goes both ways, and she has it harder. Admitting need is easier than offering unsolicited answers.
We’re all older and younger than someone. Ideally, we play both roles simultaneously. But I’ve come to believe it’s very hard to become an older woman who gives unless you learn to become a younger woman who receives.
What would you like to learn? How to bake bread? How to control your temper? How to grow herbs? What correctives work well for growing boys? When to give your husband advice and when to bite your tongue? How to heal a relationship? How to process pain?
Ask someone to walk with you.
This is a lie: If I were really spiritual, I could work life out on my own.
He made us a body, remember? Learning to lean on the broader network of God’s people is slowly revolutionizing my approach to life.
These days I meet with a mentor-friend monthly, give or take–one who asked me and let me ask–and we talk about the tough things in my life. Mistakes. Anger. Loss. Challenges. Trust. Fear. In between, it’s getting easier to ask other women for training. Would you show me how to crochet? Would you help me get a red raspberry patch started? Would you give me some advice?
The more often you ask, the easier it gets. I promise!
What say you?
it’s very hard to become an older woman who gives unless you learn to become a younger woman who receives.
Amen and Amen. I am so passionate about this very subject but still lagging so far behind in making it a reality in my own life that sometimes I want to crawl in a hole and never come out again. I think that I do agree with your very last line, but it hasn’t gotten to the easy point at all for me yet. You have challenged me more often than you would ever guess in this area! Thank you!
How true is this? Thanks for this timely blog Shari! Blessings to you & your family!
I meant to add that I have a Godly woman who is older than me, and I don’t know what I would do without her in my life. She & her husband have been invaluable in Lewis & my life. They walk with us, challenge us, encourage us, convict us, laugh with us, cry with us. I hope that someday I(we) can be this to someone.
I think there is alot of untapped wisdom out there in most women. And I don’t think it’s all about age when we say ‘older’ women. We age/mature in different ways and areas, and we SO need to learn from others, as well as walk beside others who want to learn. I think none of us knows how to do life so very well, but we do better at it when we admit it.
I agree and I disagree.
As one who has mentored and been mentored, I think two things about this “older women walking with younger women” philosophy.
1) As you so articulately said, we must learn to ask.
2) This goes for the older as well as the younger.
Because the truth is…we learn to give by recieving, AND we learn to recieve by giving. Both giving and recieving are beautiful art…qualities to work on and even master.
As a teenager, my mom always encouraged me to not just reach out to people my own age…or ask advice to those older. She encouraged me to reach out to those younger than me. It’s a lifestyle of blessing…of giving and recieving…of offering and sacrifice.
While I think that the younger generation has much to learn about seeking advice with humility from the older generation, I am also just as convinced that the older women have as much to learn about offering their wisdom-learned-through-years-of-experience.
Older women teaching younger women and older men teaching younger men is a Biblical command/directive.
I think this requires participation from both sides.
Thanks for speaking your thoughts!
This is convicting for me. There is this nasty mixture of fear, pride, self protection, self sufficiency, and laziness that often keeps me from asking things from others. You’ve modeled this so well!