...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. ...
I was asked recently, "why do young women not want to participate in women's ministries?" This is a question that I've seen come up on other blogs and in conversation, what seems like, numerous times in just this last year. The trouble is that I don't think it can be simply answered. For me, I once lived under the misconception that women's ministries was "too pretty and tied up in a bow" for me. That I would never blend into the crowd of homemaking, made-from-scratch baking, gentle, quiet spirits that seemed to exist in such places. Though I grew up in the church and was "liked", I somehow often perceived that I was too goofy to be taken seriously. Some of my impressions, I acquired from comments made or looks received. So, why would I want to attend events or social gatherings that left me feeling like I was merely a shallow pool or that my value was less than perfect.
I'm going to tell you about three ladies who impacted me greatly and subsequently changed my views of women's ministry. I'm going to reveal the ways in which they discipled me without agenda, without an event and without direction from anyone but God's leading.
The first one is a gal named Mary Lou who happened to be employed at the same place as I, way back in 1993 when I first moved to So Cal. I was working as an aid in a 3/4yr old pre-school class and she was the pre-school/day camp receptionist. It was one day "out of the blue" when she invited me over to lunch at her house. I was new to the town and trying to find how I fit in among the throng of Christian College Students that lived in and all around that area while I attended the local JC in pursuit of nursing school. I remember feeling surprised that she wanted to spend time with me! I mean, she didn't even know me and I'm sure she had a ton of other enjoyable people she could have spent her time with but she asked me...and I was touched. We ended up spending several lunch hours together over the next several months and we talked about relationships and our faith. In her season of being newly married she encouraged me in my singleness to not settle, to not give up hope for a fantastic guy and that sometimes, that guy wasn't the most up front and obvious person. She loved me and without me even knowing it, she discipled me.
The second gal is Deb. The timing in which we became acquainted was approximately 5 months later after I had returned from working a summer at a camp in Washington State and Mary Lou had moved away and onto her next season of mothering her new baby girl and adjusting to life in a new state. Deb and I ended up working on the college staff at our church. She and her husband had just had their first baby. She and I, on one particular day, were talking about weight and exercise, or something girly and vain like that, when she asked, "out of the blue" if I wanted to come over for a walk. Again, I was excited this great woman wanted to spend time with me! I figured I'd enjoy it while it lasted and anticipated I would wear out my welcome soon enough, but that wasn't the case. We spent many a day walking, hanging out at her house, going to coffee, working on college staff and developed a friendship that meant the world to me. She demonstrated how she loved her husband, how she loved and parented her daughter and how she loved the Lord. It was she who, when I had made some bad choices was first in line to gently put up the mirror and show me what I was doing and lovingly encouraged and prayed for me as I wept through some of the most painful times during those years. She showed me grace and mentored me, without any program.
The last gal I'd like to tell you about is Rochelle. She and I met right after I had moved to Pollock Pines, before I found out I was pregnant with child number 2 (Jack was 8 months old) and while I had visited the local church's MOPS group. We said polite hellos and realized we had lived in the same city for a year or two while she went to christian college and I worked as an RN. We exchanged phone numbers and like many first introductions, that seemed to be it. Fast forward three months, I'm 3 months pregnant, mother of a 11 month old baby, in a city that seems so far from civilization (code: no Target or Starbucks for miles) and my husband was working 2 hours away. We'd just finished up our ministry and time at our old church and were seeking a local place to call home when "out of the blue" Rochelle called. I tell her I'm pregnant, she tells me she's pregnant and due 3 months before me (apparently she was pregnant when we met but her tall, slim figure did not reveal it in contrast to me who took a pregnancy test, my uterus fell into position, my stomach muscles all went lax and I immediately looked 4 months along..why does that happen?? I digress) She invited me to go somewhere...I have no idea where we spent our first day because it was the hundreds of days that followed where our relationship blossomed. She and her husband, had a dinner party inviting all the young couples from the church to "meet us", then had a BBQ after church so we could meet more people. It was she who would call when I was sitting, stranded in my house at 2, still in my PJ's and feeling lonely. It was she who show up to hang out and for some reason, I never felt bad about the conditions of my house and she made herself right at home and there was a certain comfort in that. She demonstrated true hospitality and friended me, without bows or perfection.
All this is to say that I believe that sometimes for young moms, our programs, events and studies, while truly good, are just "one more thing" for someone to sign up for and feel obligated to. That most days, your cup feels empty and trying to imagine one more commitment causes the sweats and palpitations. That in the midst of the baby puking, laundry washing, husband loving and the plethora of other things we already do...feeling pretty or tied up with a bow is the furthest thing from our beings. In fact, it's by God's grace if you make it out of the house without a snot trail on your clothes.
I don't know if you took note of the statements "out of the blue"...but please know, I used this term to represent what I perceived at the time. What I can now see in my present view is how God used these precious ladies to bring me exactly what I needed during those seasons of my life. They were his instruments and for that I am so thankful. What these three ladies did, that the women's ministry did not, was meet me where I was at and invest in me, without expectation of reciprocation. It was the phone call, the note (this was pre-text, people), the lunch/coffee date, the prayer, the empathetic tears, the laughter and the Lord's leading that were poured into me. I think there is room for both kinds of discipleship but we should be moved to pour into someone because Christ has poured himself out for us and His provision continues to fill us when we need it. Who do you know, even if only in passing, that needs to be pursued. If our Lord pursues me in relationship, how can I NOT do the same for others in his name? Who can you overflow into so that your relationship can point them to Jesus and demonstrate a deeper relationship with him. This kind of discipleship is possible for the eldest of women. If you've got a voice, you've got an opportunity to encourage.
Be a part of your women's ministry, be active and involved because they're NOT all tied up with a bow and just maybe you can love on someone, mentor and be an example of Christ to them.
Isaiah 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
PS. There were many other ladies that I could name who have encouraged and friended my in the name of the Lord but there is only so much room to write. I thank God for each one of you.
PSS. I'm linked up here with my new friend Denise!