This past weekend I took my daughter-in-law to a Jane Austen conference in Manhattan. Most “Janeites” are women over the age of 60, and while there were an encouraging number of younger women, and even a few men, most of the audience was comprised of older women. A confirmed older Janeite, June, latched on to my daughter-in-law and encouraged her to keep coming to meetings, June introduced her to other women, and took it upon herself to be an unofficial mentor. I smiled just watching this 80+ year-old Jewish woman and my under-30 daughter-in-law of Puerto-Rican descent sitting and talking about Jane Austen.
This episode reminded me of the role of older women in the church. Another year and another birthday remind me I’m getting older. I was looking at some of the recent posts on this devotional blog and noticed one on being “un-retired” and one on “sitting still.” As we age, the call of God on our lives may look different, but we are still called to serve God as long as we have life and breath. I’ve been thinking about my role and how God wants to use me to mentor, influence, and guide younger women. Being married for 34 years and raising three sons gives me some life experience to share with younger women, and God, through the Apostle Paul, exhorts us “older women” to be models in our behavior, and to teach and train the younger women.What does that look like? I’m not thinking in formal terms of starting a program, or officially matching up younger and older women. I’m thinking about the relationships I have with some of the younger women in my church, and with my daughter-in-law. I pray that my life would exhibit traits of godliness and holiness (and when it doesn’t I pray God gives me the courage to see what I need to change and make those changes). Whether we are formally mentoring younger women or not, they are looking to us and at us. What do they see? Do they see a godly model to emulate?
A few nuggets of wisdom I have received and learned that I pass on to younger women include the following:
- Our relationship with Jesus is first; then our marriage; then our children;
- Take time to be alone with your spouse – even (maybe especially) when the kids are little – get away on weekend retreats a few times a year;
- Don’t forsake intimacy with your spouse – it’s one of the keys to a good marriage (and one of the perks!);
- Speak well of your spouse – I caution women to never disparage, ridicule or disrespect their husbands, even in jest;
- Men’s #1 need is for respect – respect your husband;
- Take care of yourself – if we don’t care for our spiritual, emotional, physical and social well being we will be of no good to anyone;
- Enjoy each stage of life. There are joys and struggles during each phase of family life and marriage – try to embrace the joys and endure the struggles with patience and grace;
- This too shall pass – my favorite word of wisdom for those times of struggle.
So let’s look around and notice those younger women who may need the benefit of our experience. And if you are a younger woman, don’t be shy about asking an older sister for her guidance and mentoring. That’s the way it should be!
- Nevertheless Moments
- How to Love