The loneliest time in my life began when my husband and I were transferred out east five weeks after our wedding. Away from everything familiar and unable to find a job or church right away, the days stretched before me like a road without end. And then I got pregnant. Morning sickness became all day sickness. Grief consumed me.
With no one to talk for hours on end, when my new husband walked in the door at the end of the day, he was met with some seriously unrealistic expectations. As I look back, what I really needed was an older godly woman who could help me navigate through my grief and confusion in the context of the gospel.
It’s interesting that, while we have more opportunities than ever before, studies show that women are less happy than they were 50 years ago. Having declared our independence from God, as a nation we are crazy busy; yet at the same time, we are more isolated than we’ve ever been.
The repercussions of this strange combination of busyness and loneliness have been felt in both the home and church. Today the use of antidepressants is at an all time high and nearly all women experience some level of stress and pressure from all that’s expected of them. Gone are the days when women spent long periods of time working to help each other, sharing their burdens as well as the care of children. It seems hard to even imagine a time when teaching and training simply happened in the normal course of everyday life.
Today, many women spend their days in the car running from one activity to the next, working, and trying to keep all their plates spinning without crashing. Single women may not be running car pools, yet often they, too, are running from one thing to the next.
But along with this cultural busyness, many women don’t seem to expect or even try to cultivate the kind of life-giving relationships women of the past depended on. Young women who once looked to their moms and other older women for wisdom and guidance, now look to their peers and the Internet. Many older women busy themselves with work outside of the home, retirement, or other activity. But God didn’t design us to be fulfilled by Face Book level relationships. We were made for something much more.
What does God’s Word say?
1. We were created for relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Apart from Christ, we will continue to be restless and run after the latest thing that the world says will make us happy. We will put too much pressure and expectation on other relationships when only Christ will satisfy our deepest longings.
“… I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine. . . everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made…the people whom I formed for My glory”…Isaiah 43:1, 7, 21. “I know My own and My own know Me,” John 10:4.
You see, God doesn’t just want a casual relationship with us; He wants an intimate relationship built on love and trust that shows the world we belong to Him! He wants to be the greatest desire of our heart because He knows that we will never be satisfied with anything less.
Do you know Christ as your Lord and Savior? Seek Him above all else and you will find your life in Him!
2. We were created for relationship with one another. God gave us the church to “stir up one another to love and good works and to encourage one another…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” Hebrews 10: 24-25. Contrary to what our culture promotes, we need others in the church to help us live gospel centered lives:
- To hear the gospel proclaimed and see it lived out.
- To be reminded that, just as we can’t earn our salvation, neither can we become holy by self-effort.
- To have truth spoken into our lives when we veer off course
- To encourage us when we feel weary or discouraged
- To receive practical help and wisdom from those who have lived longer
- To be stirred up to love and good works for the glory of God, because we are so naturally self-centered.
To that end, God provides the local church where we can grow together with the rest of His family. This is where we cut our teeth on the gospel, are encouraged and strengthened by other believers, and learn to love and serve one another.
Have you fully embraced the gift of your local church as you worship with other Christ exalting believers? There is no sweeter place to grow strong in grace than amidst others who are striving to do the same for the glory of God.
For you are “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God..being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” Ephesians 2:19-22.
3. We were created to learn from other women. In Titus 2 we are shown how the gospel is meant to be passed down life on life as older women teach younger women how to glorify God distinctively as women.
Who is to be entrusted with this teaching and training? Women whose lives are built on sound doctrine and who are submitted to the authority of God’s Word and Christ. Such women pursue holiness, not perfectly, but as the general pattern of their lives.
Why God Calls Women to Help other Women
God designed women with a unique bent toward bearing and nurturing life. By nature we draw near to others with a desire to help and encourage, finding deep joy and meaning in relationships.
Women need other women to learn how to live out gospel truths, whether single or married. Older women have simply lived longer and, if they have walked with Christ much of that time, they’ve had plenty of practice working out the gospel with fear and trembling. By God’s grace, mature women have learned from their mistakes. They have fought similar battles and increasingly experienced victory over their flesh. And they have discovered that, while the culture may change, the nature of sin doesn’t. Godly older women have learned to exercise self-control for the glory of God.
Women need other women to help and encourage them because life is hard and we are weak.
- Being single and learning how to use singleness for the glory of God can be hard for those who desire to be married.
- Being married and learning how to live with another sinner and show respect to a man who often falls short is hard.
- Raising children who are self-centered and, by nature, rebellious is hard, and raising them to love Christ in a culture that offers glittering counterfeits is harder still.
Older women are called to speak the truth to younger women about who they are in Christ when the culture says; “You are what you do,” “Your past defines you,” or “Break free of old ways of regarding marriage and motherhood! Find yourself and do what makes you happy!”
Older women are called to encourage young moms in the exhausting years of babies and toddlers by offering a meal, helping rock babies, picking up groceries, or simply providing adult conversation and a cup of coffee.
Mature women are available to pray with others when their teens go through the rough waters of adolescence, a husband loses his job, or there isn’t enough money to pay the bills. Because older women have seen God’s faithfulness again and again, they are quick to remind their younger friends that He will be faithful to them too.
Older women are called to teach and train younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, kind, and submissive to their own husbands. Along with that, they are to help young women understand the privilege it is to create an atmosphere of peace and harmony in their homes that their husbands and children will be glad to return to at day’s end. As women created for relationship, we can be strategic gospel influencers in our homes and communities.
Why isn’t this Happening Like it Once Did in the Church?
While there are both practical and spiritual reasons that this rhythm of life has broken down in the church, there are some questions we would be wise to ask ourselves.
- Am I looking to the Internet or my peers for advice that is more worldly in nature, rather than seeking the biblical counsel that older godly women can offer?
- Do I really want to hear and obey what God’s Word has to say about my life as a woman?
- Am I looking for older women who follow Christ and am I making an effort to meet them?
- If my schedule seems too busy to include spending time with women who could help me in my spiritual walk, what do I need to eliminate to make room for this in my life?
- Is there a young woman I could reach out to and encourage in her spiritual walk?
God calls us to be spiritual mothers and sisters to the younger women in the church. To be obedient to this call, we must be equipped and empowered by the work of God’s Word in our own lives first. But for those who have been trained by it, there is no end to the joy- filled opportunities God provides to point other women to Christ. And in the end, is there really anything more satisfying and eternally rewarding than that?
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you,
photo by Alamy