Monday, April 4, 2011

living—life on life

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.  ~Titus 2: 3-5

“I’m sorry, but I just don’t believe that you are qualified to serve as a Titus woman.  I don’t want you involved in that way.”

I could hardly hold back the tears.  It had taken me the better part of 2 years, time spent praying and looking at my life in light of those verses, to get up enough nerve to ask if I could serve with our young moms in that capacity.  I understand what it is to have a house full of little people.  I remember clearly how it felt with four children under 5 years old.  Ele Parrot, in the introduction to her book Transforming Together writes:

“When I was in my twenties, overwhelmed by four small children and a very full life, I often wondered, ‘Where are the older women?  Doesn’t anyone see I’m drowning here?’  Or worse, ‘Doesn’t anyone care that I’m going under for the third time?"’  I felt like I was constantly shoring myself up and limping through moments of self-doubt, self-hate, loneliness, and a lack of self-worth…

“However, in the core of my being—in the depth of my soul—I knew there was more…or I hoped there was more, for, if this was all there was to being a follower of Jesus, I was sorely disappointed, angry, and scared…I knew that in Titus 2:4-5 we were told that the older women 'can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind.’  I knew what it said, but I desperately desired to feel the results of such a relationship in my own life.  And so I vowed that when I was an older woman I would purpose to be there for the younger women.”

When I read that, it was as if Ele had spent time inside my head.  Those words are almost exactly what I’ve said to Jim many times over the years.  Now, here I was, feeling ready to step out and be that person, and was being told I wasn’t qualified.

It is where my heart has been for many years, and on the advice of a Godly mentor, I had waited until my big guys were in high school and beyond to think seriously that it might be time.  After all, if the point is to have the OLDER women teach the younger ones, then I needed to continue to grow and mature.  When I approached the leader, I had 1 in college, 3 in high school, and 2 in preschool.  I had been-there and done-that for many years, and as a bonus, I was parenting children the same age as the women I wanted to be involved with.  That’s a HUGE bonus, since I was clearly in the thick of parenting as it is today, operating from a position of significant experience.  That day, I was crushed, and a long held passion began to die.

But God is SO faithful.  Since that particular day at my kitchen table, He has filled my life with the most incredible assortment of young moms.  Some of them are very young—I’m old enough to be their mother!  Some of them are much closer to my age, but their children are young.  All of them add fun and laughter to my days.  I consider it a privilege to be part of their lives.  They inspire me as I continue to parent my big guys.  They challenge me to grow, to carefully think about my responses as the parent of adult children.   They encourage me to step out of my comfort zone, and are huge cheerleaders when I do.  They have kept me on my knees as I pray for them.  Hearing their stories, their struggles—it makes me realize just how blessed I am to have the family I do.  My childhood was nearly perfect.  My parents are wonderful.  My sisters are fun to be with.  My own family is delightful.  As I think about each of those women, I am humbled by the fact that they think…that GOD thinks…I have something to offer.  My passion for the young moms has returned, perhaps stronger than before.  Am I willing to put myself out there, to ask again to 'formally’ hold the role of a Titus woman?  Maybe not.  But then, maybe it doesn’t matter.  I don’t need a human’s blessing to be what God wants…just His. 

So to all of you—too many to name lest I leave one off unintentionally—I thank you.  You have blessed my life immeasurably.  You have helped me to grow and mature.  No matter how overwhelmed, lonely, and unappreciated you feel, know that you make a difference.

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