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?