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 (ESV)
As a child, several older women served as encouragers and mentors in my life. Mrs. Simon came every Wednesday night to church to listen to use recite the memory verses that we had been assigned. Kind, but gently nagging, she would not let us go on to another activity until we correctly stated all the words in the right order plus where they were found. To this day, I hear her voice in my head when I recall those verses. I also remember fondly Mrs. Jones, my choir and handbell teacher. We loved Mrs. Jones so much that when we were promoted to the next level, we cried and begged to be allowed to stay back with her. She was a no nonsense leader, but always compassionate and caring. I still giggle like a grade schooler when I remember her advice to us as young ladies. Something that I won’t repeat here, but while it was old fashioned, it did give us cause to think. Mrs. Brown is the teacher who turned me on to the historical fiction of Eugenia Price. Shocked by the covers of the Kathleen Woodweiss novels I was reading, she kept her opinions to herself, but offered me quality reading material that was both riveting and life changing. I am where I am because of Mrs. Brown and Eugenia Price. Mrs. Sikes, another Sunday School teacher, taught me the deep value of a compassionate and encouraging word. These women, and others like them, poured themselves into my life and the other girls in our church. They supported us, loved us and made us feel special. As I aged and was married and then, a young mom, other women also encouraged and taught me how to live the Christian life in this new stage where sleep was elusive and patience a virtue. I cherish those memories but I am not sure how it happened that seemingly overnight, I am now the older woman offering advice and wisdom to other young women both at church and at work. They call me by Mrs. and my last name although I keep protesting that it makes me feel old! I love running into them at the grocery store or church, hearing how their life is and dropping a seed of encouragement in their day. “Yes, she will eventually sleep through the night.” “Yes, he will be potty trained before he goes to Kindergarten.” “Yes, Middle School is rough, but when he gets his learner’s permit for driving, you will have leverage over him.” “Yes, she is rude to you, but around other people she is a delight.” “Yes, sometimes, it is hard to keep your mouth shut, but at this stage of parenting, it is often best.” And mostly, “You are doing great. Keep up the good work. In the end, you will know joy.” Life has been preparing me for this role for a long time. I am happier than I ever dreamed to be the older woman.