Today I want to talk about the recurring plea I hear, from young women, for discipleship. I applaud you for paying attention and seeing the need for the influence of a more mature, godly woman. But, I’m also concerned…so, hang with me and read a little back story, and then I’ll explain why….
Back in the day, as a young follower of Christ I was deeply influenced and shaped by older believers. Lynn, who led me to Christ, was hip and fun, yet steady, consistent, and overflowing with God’s Word. When I met Marion she had just turned 50, and I was 25. Never before had I met a woman, at her age, who was as passionate about the Word as I was. She had a strong and healthy marriage, and despite the challenges of raising older children, she was steadfast in her walk with Him. I loved talking with her because Jesus permeated our conversations. I pursued her, made sure that I spent regular time with her because I knew I would benefit from her example. At about the same time that I met Marion, the Lord brought Shirley across my path. Her bible was thick and rumpled from use – she used a fountain pen to make notes in the margins. I’d sit with her in various coffee shops around the world with a pad and pen taking notes. Later I had the privilege of spending time with Myrna. She was like a combination of these two women – she was a model of perseverance and godliness. We were often slated to team-teach the Word for a women’s study at our church. In comparison to her depth of wisdom, I had so little to offer. I met Dorothy right around her 80th birthday. She was seeking counsel on how to motivate the women in her small group. Yes, she led a small group! They were all over 70 and often came unprepared for discussion…some things never change I guess. Dorothy never stopped growing and pursuing Christ.
Now here I sit, in my early 50’s, an older woman, very much shaped by these women whose spiritual DNA flows within my veins. I write because, as I mentioned at the beginning of my post, I’m excited by the number of women who long for a voice of experience, who look for a model of godliness, who want to influence other women and see the need for a mentor. But, I’m going to be blunt here, coupled with this longing is the sense that many treat the whole idea of “finding an older woman” like choosing an app, scrolling down the screen until a four star review pops up, try it for awhile and if it doesn’t work out – delete it.
I know some pretty amazing women at my church and within the ministry I’m part of, and they have so much to offer. They’ve forged through life in the trenches, raised kids, fought through difficult marriages, struggled with financial woes, and through it all walked with Jesus. They’re available to talk and listen, eager in fact. In order to find the rich treasure of a life well lived, it takes more time than a quick meet and greet at Starbucks.
In order to glean from the wisdom of the women I mentioned earlier…I had to take the initiative, I had to be willing to meet with them wherever and whenever it was convenient for them. Sometimes I had to go way out of my way, but it was worth it. And, let me add, I had to open up my life and my heart, display the good, bad, and ugly, which meant that sometimes the conversations were difficult, but they helped me probably more than any other.
As an older woman I love spending time with the younger women in my life. I love how several regularly pursue me either through texting or email or over coffee on a Sunday afternoon. The relationship is mutual, it’s encouraging, and we point each other to Christ. In the end, isn’t that what we all want and need?