“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” (Titus 2:3–5).
Throughout my life I have had the unique opportunity to spend time with older women. When I say “older” women I’m not necessarily referring to a certain age. By “older” I mean anyone who possesses a certain level of maturity, spiritually, as well as in general life experience. I have been blessed by these women who have poured biblical truth into my life and encouraged me to live that out practically. These include women in my family, my mother’s friends, and those in the church. There have been all kinds of women; single, married, Indians, non-Indians, working women and stay-at-home mothers.
I’ve learned a lot from them about my relationship with God, finding joy in the mundane, what to look for in a man, and the nuances of life such as marriage and motherhood. By the time I actually began to take note of the wisdom I could glean from these women, I was already a young adult. I wish I had paid more attention then! But better late than never, right?!
I’d like to break up what I learned into 3 seasons of my life; seasons of singleness, marriage, and motherhood.
Here are some important truths these women have taught me through their lives and words…
Season of Singleness
- There was a time when I was in high school and I had to write a speech. She helped me write it. She was always very supportive and encouraged me to write more. Recently, when I started my blog, I sent her the link and she was so happy. She went on to say, “I am reminded of the thought I had years ago of you speaking words of wisdom and encouragement to many.” I will always remember her kind and encouraging words to a timid and shy sixteen-year-old me.
- When I was in college I learnt so much just by watching her. I saw her work outside the home and still keep her family and home a priority. I saw her entertain us young people at her home after a long day at work, or meet us for girls Bible Study. I saw her teach her two-year old to sit quietly in church. I remember reading about the Proverbs 31 woman and thinking it sounded just like her.
- She wasn’t much older than me, but I really looked up to her in the short time we were together. I was in college away from home. So was she. I was overwhelmed with studies, wondering how I would have time for bible studies and church meetings. I watched her do it all, and do it well. I learned from her that it is always the best decision to put Jesus first, no matter the cost. He honors those who honor Him.
- She always took me out for coffee whenever she was in town. We talked about what was going on in my life. She would ask how she could pray for me. She is my mother’s friend and didn’t really need to do all that. But she did, and it meant a lot.
- “There are three qualities you must look for in your man,” she said. “First, he should love God more than He loves you. Second, he should have a good sense of humor. And third, he should love chocolate. Never EVER marry a man who hates chocolate!” Definitely the best advice I ever received!!!
- She showed me how to have an open home. How to see everything in your home as something to be shared with others. To make people so comfortable that they can walk in any time, open the fridge to find something to eat. To entertain all kinds of people at all times of the day and night. To be willing to sacrifice yourself and your family for the sake of Christ. I wish I could be even half the woman she is.
- She told me that marriage is sacred and should not be taken lightly; that it is okay to take your time and pray about your partner. She made a statement that I will always remember, “God did not intend marriage to make you happy, but rather to make you holy.”
- I remember having this conversation with her so clearly. I was upset, she was encouraging. “Be more concerned about becoming the right woman than meeting the right man.” That has really stuck with me and is something I would tell any young woman who is waiting for marriage.
- She gave me this book to read, Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot. It came at just the right time in my life. A time when I was in a period of waiting on the Lord for His timing for marriage to my now-husband. That book was such a huge blessing and gave me a new perspective on “waiting.” These are some words from the book that I felt were written just for me.
Season of Marriage
- She knew I loved to read. So she recommended books on marriage. Some of these I read while I was engaged and some I read after I was married.
- His Needs, Her Needs Willard F Harley
- The Politically Incorrect Wife Connie Grigsby and Nancy Cobb
- Being Good to your Husband on Purpose Becky Hunter
- The Excellent Wife, A Biblical Perspective Martha Peace
- Sacred Marriage Gary Thomas
- The Power of a Praying Wife Stormie Omartian
These are great books to read whether you’re single, engaged, or already married.
- She said a few words at my bridal shower. One thing I recollect is, “Never correct your husband in public. It really doesn’t matter if it happened at 3:30 or 3:45!” Well, if you know me, you know I’m still learning that one!
- I don’t know her. But her words have had an impact on my life anyhow. In the early days of our marriage someone gave me a book by her. A few sentences caught my eye. I wrote them down in my diary and I’ve always gone back to those words.
- I saw her praying for her husband and learnt the importance of praying for my husband.
- I have never seen her say anything in anger. She is gentle and calm. Her husband once testified about her that she never says anything in the heat of the moment. She always waits for things to cool down before she puts her point across. I was challenged and have never forgotten that.
Season of Motherhood
- I’m sure all the unsolicited advice given to new mothers is well-intentioned, but I found it extremely anxiety-inducing. It was during this sensitive period that she “advised” me to not let it bother me. To not be afraid to ignore advice. To sift through and take in the nuggets of wisdom and let the others go.
- She reminded me to trust my motherly instincts because I knew my baby best. Yes, I would make mistakes sometimes, and that’s okay, because there’s no better way to learn and grow.
- “Don’t wait for the house to be quiet and kids to be asleep to read your Bible, because that may never happen!” She encouraged me to open my Bible in front of the kids, maybe read aloud to them. I realized I didn’t need to have a Pinterest-worthy quiet corner or an hour undisturbed to spend time with the Lord.
- Patience is something that doesn’t come easily to me. Watching her deal with her kids, not much older than mine, I am learning to let go of the little irritations, to stay calm and to look at the bigger picture.
- She shared a few thoughts at my baby shower. One was to pray for my children throughout the day; while giving them a bath, during a massage, while nursing, basically to use every moment to bring them before God and to surrender them to Him.
- She advised me to always put my marriage first, even before my children. Children need to be trained to understand that my relationship with their Dad is second only to my relationship with God.
- “Teach them to love Jesus.” She encouraged me to help them fall in love with Jesus so that when it was time for them to make their own choices in life, they would choose Jesus. I understand I cannot “make” them choose Him. I can only do my best and pray for them to remain rooted in faith.
- She made me learn Bible verses and Psalms when I was young. It was a burden then. Now I do the same with my kids, praying that God’s living word would be hidden deep in their hearts. I have realized the importance of learning God’s word as a child because the only verses I remember now are the ones I learned then.
- She always has a word of encouragement. “You’re doing a great job with the girls.” Just a few words strung together but they never fail to uplift me.
- I don’t know if she ever told me or I just saw her do this. She always took the kids aside to correct them. She never corrected them for their misbehavior in front of others. I think it’s important that disciplining your child be a private conversation. It also helps me (and my child) to calm down, assess the situation, and respond accordingly.
- She raised three children in the fear of the Lord. I love hearing her stories of the years gone by when she was a young mother of three under three. She told me that taking care of my children and carrying out my homely household routines, was in fact Kingdom work. I learnt from her that all the unexciting tasks that come up on replay as part of our mothering lives do have meaning. God sees us as we clean the floors, bathe and dress the kids, wash dirty dishes, fold laundry, and wipe down counters. He takes glory in our mundane lives when we find fulfillment in Him as we undertake even the smallest task in love.
- “The days are long but the years are short.” She said it all the time but I only understood what it really meant when I had kids. “Cherish these messy days coz they’ll be over before you know it.”
- Her words come to mind now when I see and hear myself in my three and six year old girls. “Remember they are watching you. Children are like sponges and take it all in.”
- She always tells me “If you even need a break- to go shopping, or even just sit at home and read or sleep, leave the kids with me.” It is such a blessing to have someone like that around! It inspires me to someday do the same for other mothers with little ones.
The Bible praises “gray hair” and “old age.” Proverbs 16:31 says “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” These women have gained wisdom and knowledge by living a righteous life. Some were put in my life by God only for a season and some will walk alongside me forever. I have been greatly influenced by each one of them and will always be grateful for them.
Younger women, I would urge you to watch and listen to the godly older women God has placed around you. They have so much lived experience, so many stories to share, and numerous learnings to pass on. You could ask an older woman you admire if she would be willing to mentor you. Keep a list of questions so you can glean answers as you hang out with her. You can request older lady prayer warriors to pray for you and your family. Invite a couple of ladies to join you for a book or Bible study. You can also look for books and podcasts by older women of faith and listen to them. There are so many ways to do this if only you have the desire.
Older women are so vitally important to the entire church family. God’s word encourages us to learn from them “what is good.” If an older woman is willing, a younger woman’s life is forever changed.
To the older women in my life, I want to say THANK YOU- for being willing, for your sacrifices and availability, for your abundance of wisdom, and for investing in me.
Because of you my life will never be the same.
May the Lord reward you for your kindness. Ruth 1:8
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. Philippians 1:3