While still in my thirties, I realized I was an ‘older woman.’
I had stumbled upon the mandate in Titus 2 about older women living in a way that honors God, “They should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women…” It was easy to dismiss this as something for my mother’s generation, until the Spirit spoke into my heart. No matter your age, there are always younger women. And it occurred to me that as a college dean’s wife I had a whole campus full of younger women just outside my door.
So I immediately started a weekly Bible study in my home for college women – yes, even though my hands were full as a part-time radio broadcaster and full-time mama of four young children. As for our gatherings, I know they weren’t perfect and I will probably never know this side of heaven the fruit of our time together. But my obedience to this prompting was the impetus to always keep my eyes open for those I could encourage along life’s journey.
On each Mother’s Day I’m reminded of both my stumbling and soaring as I sought to mother my four quite different children through the many vicissitudes of life. I am utterly grateful that each survived and is now thriving as their own person with a myriad of interests and responsibilities.
But I also realize that my life’s influence goes beyond mothering my own children. I can be a spiritual mama to many throughout my lifetime.
While all women do not necessarily become mothers, I believe all women have the potential to serve as spiritual mothers.
Sometimes such relationships of older women with younger women last for years or a lifetime. More frequently such influencing times last for a season, even for a weekend intensive, such as a conference or retreat.
Inter-generational sharing is important to both the older and younger woman for many reasons. Those of us who have lived more of life and experienced both suffering and God’s faithfulness have many stories and lessons to share with someone a few steps behind. Even though our circumstances may differ, there are universal truths to be learned. From younger women we can discover new ideas, technology, thinking and trends – making us more sensitive to how to help in their many challenging changes. Our hearts and minds open to experiences we might not have otherwise pursued without their influence.
Does the idea of spiritual mothering sound a bit daunting? Perhaps it will help if you think of it as using skills you’ve already learned whilst parenting, teaching or managing a staff.
Here are 6 key actions I have identified as important to those seeking to serve as spiritual mamas:
1. LISTEN. Get to know someone by truly hearing their heart and not just what they are saying. Be present and truly interested in them as an individual. People are hungry for someone to focus on them in real time, face-to-face. This speaks volumes to their worth.
2. LOOK. Ask God to help you truly see this person as one created in His image. Discover their unique gifting, passions and skills. Recognize and affirm both the strengths and potential pitfalls in being who they are.
3. LIFT. Everyone needs a cheerleader. Perhaps you are the one to lift them up and praise the small victories. Encourage through affirmation, good advice, prayer support and being available. Be their safe haven.
4. LEARN. Just as you have spent a lifetime (no matter how long that is so far) learning about all aspects of the character of God – trustworthy, faithful, unchanging, sovereign, compassionate, strong, and ever-present – you can now help them learn these foundational truths through sharing your stories.
5. LOVE. Isn’t this the key – deciding that you will be a vessel of God’s unconditional love and acceptance to another person desperately needing assurance that they matter? Love is full of grace to cover our failures. But it is also full of truth to help steer our paths. You can offer both aspects of love to another person with whom you are in authentic relationship.
6. LAUNCH. Perhaps the hardest stage is when the time comes to let go and lessen the intensity of your interaction. Just remember that all you have been pouring into this person’s life has built to this point. Commit to pray for them and entrust them in God’s capable hands. Leave the fruit with Him.
Where are all the spiritual mamas out there? Look in the mirror. You are an older woman to someone. God will show you the way, and as a Spiritual Mama myself, I will be cheering you on…
under the mercy, Lucinda
“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”
©2020 Lucinda Secrest McDowell
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