This post was originally written in 2010, when I was 36 years old. You do the math… (wink!)
Something odd has been happening to me lately. I’ve been getting old!
Yup! I knew it would happen someday, but it has kinda caught me off guard. For the first time I can remember, I’m not one of the youngest women at church. For the first time I can remember, someone thought the little pooch on my belly was fat (which it is!) and not another baby coming (which it isn’t!). For the first time I can remember, I can see little crow’s feet around my eyes when I look in the mirror. (Of course, my own children have always thought I’m old, but that doesn’t count.)
In a way, it’s nice. I’ve been staring at Titus 2:4-5 for so many years now, working really hard to perfect the skills listed, that it’s nice to think that maybe I can start looking at Titus 2:3 and thinking ahead to a time in my life when I’ll be called upon to invest in the lives of younger women and teach them the skills they need.
“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).
How “old” do I have to be before I’m an “older woman”? Well, for certain, I’ll be an older woman after the age of 60, because the following is what Paul wrote about any of the young chicks aged 59 or less:
“No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds… I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander” (1 Timothy 5:9-10, 14).
I don’t think I’ll officially qualify as “old” for a while because I will indeed be “bringing up” children and managing a child-filled home for another 20 years (give or take). And in any spare time I have during these coming years, I need to be adding in more hospitality and “washing the feet of the saints.” And of course, I need to continue being faithful to my husband and increasing in good deeds of all kinds. I suppose, with all of this on my to-do list, I’ll really being feeling old by then!
Or will I?
When I learn, as Titus 2:3 says, to have the godly character God expects of an older woman, followed by the pouring out of my life and time into younger women around me, will it give me new passion and something to live for? Will it renew me from the inside out, so whether I have wrinkles or not, my spirit is young and energetic?
And how fast time goes! If the next 20 years go as fast as the last 20 years, then I’d better hurry to develop the character I need in my heart:
- I need to be reverent, set apart (“holy), and God-fearing in my heart. I’m noticing that God first teaches young girls to honor and obey their parents, then to honor and obey their husbands, then finally to honor and obey God alone. Just as it’s tough to submit to my husband now, it’s tough to submit to the commands of my Heavenly Father — but this is a heart lesson I need to learn.
“Remember the day you stood before YHWH your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children” (Deuteronomy 4:10).
“Teach me your way, YHWH,
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11).
- I need to learn to stop slandering others. Am I the only woman who struggles with this? But just as the greatest command is to love YHWH with all my heart, the second is like it — to love my neighbor as myself. It’s humbling to think I might need another 20 years of work before I master my tongue.
“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (James 1:26).
- I need to not be addicted to much wine. Honestly, it’s not an area I struggle with (oh, can you hear the pride creeping in?), but I can think of some other addictions (I’d rather not say…). It seems to me, as I get older, that an addiction is defined as anything I turn to for help or relief instead of turning to God.
“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
who rely on horses,
who trust in the multitude of their chariots
and in the great strength of their horsemen,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
or seek help from YHWH” (Isaiah 31:1).
- I need to prepare to teach what is good. First, I need to figure out what “good” is, from God’s perspective. This means my priorities will have to be right, and Lord willing, during the next 20 years, I’ll be able to see some of the fruit of good choices I’ve made, not just foolish choices made in my youth.
“I said to YHWH, “You are my Lord [my master];
apart from you I have no good thing” (Psalm 16:2).
Then I’ve got to learn how to manage my own time and household well enough, with love, self control, purity, and kindness, while remaining subject to my husband, that I can teach these skills to the younger women.
I can see how God is going to ease me into this teaching job. I doubt it will be through formal teaching classes, speaking engagements, workshops, retreats, conferences or gasp! books and blog posts. I suspect I’ll wake up in the morning, fully expecting to have time to get everything on my fancy-dancy to-do list done. After all, I’m older and more mature now. I’ve been a mother a few times over now. I know how to juggle it all, LOL!
So God will let a younger woman knock on my door. Just so she can talk or pray with me. And my fancy schedule will get all messed up. Because she’ll have big needs. And she’ll need to talk awhile! And my fancy schedule is going to get all messed up. Let’s see me juggle now!
So it’s a good thing I’ve got more than 20 years yet before I’m “old” according to the Bible. It sounds like I’ve got a lot of growing up to do yet.