“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 train 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 am more convinced than ever now, that this command to older women, is NOT just for the benefit of the younger women and their families, but more of a PENANCE to the older women for all of the trouble, annoyance, and irritability they caused the older women in their lives during their youth!. It’s the perfect Penance; the epitome of the old saying, “what goes around comes around!”
It is also a way for us to grind away at those last vestiges of pride. Nothing will humble you faster than a young woman who refuses to accept your wisdom and guidance, unless of course it’s the young woman who ignores it completely!
But for a real double whammy in character building, God sometimes lets us middle-age somethings struggle with giving out our well-intentioned advice, while our own mother and/or mentors are still on this earth and simultaneously trying to do the same thing for us! With such pressure on both sides, the only way NOT to become squeezed into a fine gem stone (more precious than rubies) is with absolute stubbornness that presses back, usually in short tempered remarks in both directions!
Oh how I struggled with this!! I wanted to scream and shout to younger moms, “HEY!! I’ve been where you are!! You are making a mistake. Let me explain why!!
At the same time my mother in her ever-more-gently voice, would simply state, “I wish you would ________,” fill in the blank. She didn’t say it often. She didn’t say it loudly. But it cut like a knife – not because she meant it to, but because my own pridefulness kept me from accepting it graciously. And to add insult to injury Mom was usually right!
Mom died at 81. Toward the end of her life, she didn’t have to speak loudly. She wasn’t even harsh. She used quiet gentle tones and spoke with charitable kindness. Maybe sometimes I didn’t want to hear her words, but I shut up and listened because I respected her. She deserved that. I also knew that more often than not, she was absolutely correct in whatever it was she was telling me. I knew she has the life experiences that I lacked.
Yet, it was difficult for me to accept that women 20 years or more my junior couldn’t share my vision, although I understood why –
Youth is in the way!
When the body still feels good, and looks good, when that 40th birthday seems years away and every birthday after that seems ancient it’s hard to see a more mature perspective. The problems of the young are so immediate, as if nothing else could ever be worse than what is happening at this second. Of course at 50-something, I know that “something worse” exists. At 81, Mom knew so too. She had lived through much of it.
The paradox is this:
Middle-aged women know because we’ve been there,
but we didn’t listen when we were younger,
but now that we’re older we do, and
we want to share,
but of course the women we’re supposed to share with won’t listen because they’re younger and can’t possibly know…
Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor? or at least irony!
It has finally occurred to me that although I am required to teach the younger women, it’s best to lead by example, and speak up carefully and charitably only when I feel prayerfully compelled to. This is as much for my own good as for the good of any lives I might possibly touch.
So this Lent I will,
- pray for the young mothers as they are in the day-to-day of raising their children
- pray for the single young women too
- pray for the souls of my mother and grandmother and give thanks for their wisdom, love and advice
- speak less, love and live more
- but when I do speak, try to do it with the charitable love and kindness my mom exhibited for me.
I also finally understand that there really might not be a tangible perk for me in any of it. As a Christian I’m never allowed to say, “I Told you so,” am I?
… that might be something to work on next Lent!
Copyright 2015 Elena LaVictoire