Generation Cedar

 

A Life-Giving Secret for Women: Transparency & TruthI have learned a few things as I’ve aged from a 20-something with a couple of babies to a 40-something with almost 11. And it might not be what you’d expect.

I’ve learned that you never really “get it together.” Or at least I don’t feel that way. In fact, with each changing season, in ways it feels like I’m starting all over again, charting new territory with little clue about how to do it. I keep waiting to “arrive.” Maybe that will come in my 70’s, once this motherhood thing is far behind me. Well, a little behind me.

At times I have felt shame over the feeling that, though I’m moving into “older woman” status, I still feel very much like I need an older woman. I think the truth is, we all do and always will. I am an older woman with counsel to offer younger women. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still need counsel and encouragement. Coming to terms with that and not feeling inadequate about it is important.

But I’ve also learned a VERY important balance that needs to be happening in the lives of women. Truth tempered with transparency.

So yeah, we need to be reading books, listening to sermons and studies and blog articles about the ideal woman. Because that’s what we should always be aiming for. I’ve heard women complain about feeling guilty when she reads those kinds of things because she doesn’t measure up. And it’s true that can happen. How many of us have felt inadequate reading Proverbs 31, the very Word of God? Yet Scripture’s description of the ideal woman doesn’t come with a list of qualifications or exceptions meant to make us feel better in our failure. It just says, “Here’s a virtuous woman. Aim for that.”

I know it’s easier to read about someone else’s misery and failure so we don’t feel as bad about our own. But staying there doesn’t grow us. It simply coddles us.

So what to do? How do we keep from feeling overwhelmed with ideal expectations, but still strive to grow?

I think the answer is selective transparency while maintaining the truth. We need some women in our lives with whom we can be brutally honest and ugly, and know they are going to comfort us and spur us on at the same time. We don’t need to air all our struggles on Facebook, necessarily. There is an element of respect that we give our families by not indulging the whole world about our trouble. But to gloss over it, to not share it with anyone is hypocrisy, and it’s damaging to us and everyone else.

We need both. We need to be looking toward the ideal–what traits and characteristics does God want for me, what will grow me and my family, how can I be transformed into the image of a woman who glorifies God–but also be humble and honest about our sinfulness and shortcomings.

It doesn’t help us to be crippled by unrealistic expectations, but neither does it help us to throw our hands up and wallow in our failures.

What glorifies God is steadfastness and humility. Willingness to admit failure, and a resolve to grow in godliness. It’s a tough balance but it’s the right one.

I would love to hear from you about your struggle with this balance. We’re all facing difficult things–I have no doubts about that. How can we spur each other to continue pressing on for the prize?

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21 Responses

  1. Thank you for posting this! I’m a mom of 10 ages 19 yrs-18 months and I feel inadequate all the time and I’m tired of it. I find it upsetting as I thought I would have a better control over life by the time I was this “old” (44 yrs) I’m always comparing us, though, and that’s not fair so I’m trying to see us for who we are – unique. My challenge for myself right now is to find the joy in our family as we are truly blessed to be together and homeschooling. Between obedience issues, food sensitivities and being extremely tired from burning the candle at both ends for too many years I’m getting worn out trying to find out how to do things “better” and stick with it. My selfish self wins too often I’m afraid.

    1. Michele,

      It is hard. I pray for you, as I pray for all of us, to be renewed in the strength of our minds and hearts, and to walk joyfully amid trials. We do have a LOT to be thankful for.

  2. When I mentor women, whether in person, by blog, the chat room, etc. I try to speak the truth in love. I don’t try to tickle their ears and help them feel comfortable where they are but encourage them in becoming a woman of God. The best way is for them to write down where they are feeling they are failures, then write scripture that teaches the opposite such as, “I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength.” If they struggle with their mouth, I encourage them to memorize scripture about their words, “Let no unwholesome word…” since we are transformed by renewing our mind with God’s Truth. Sure, no of us will ever be perfect but we are commanded to rebuke, exhort and encourage one another towards godliness, especially as we see the days becoming darker and the Lord’s return coming soon.

  3. As a mom of four young children and trying to train them in the way of the Lord as well as teach them academics life can feel difficult. I often feel in inadequate as a mother and wife. As a homeschooling mom you seem to think that all eyes are watching you so you don’t mess up. Even your children are being compared and with non homeschooling children. As a mom I come to realize that I will mess up at times and I can’t always be perfect. I can try to keep my kitchen clean but it eventually gets messy and I have to clean it up. Lately I have been feeling down with my life not as a mother, but as a Christian. I have an unbelieving husband who when I try to witness to he degrades me and makes me feel awful. I am trying to love him as Christ wants me to and pray for him. But, at times I want to leave because how he verbally hurts me. I seek comfort through reading God’s Word and praying about my hurts and I forgive him, but how do we live together if we are unequally yoke? Sometimes I blame myself for not explaining the gospel right or not using the right words, but I know that it is not by words, but by the power of God to change his heart. But, I often wonder when will that be. Thank you for your wonderful words of wisdom to help me as a mom and wife.

    1. Valerie,

      I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine dealing with the weight of life without the comfort of an encouraging husband, with whom you are equally yoked. I will tell you that I have known women in your situation who did quietly pray for years, and their husbands’ hearts were gripped by the power of God, and they did completely change and are now loving, godly men. BUT, it doesn’t always happen that way either.

      I would find some good counsel, maybe in your church, to walk through this with you. You can’t do it alone.

    2. Hi Valerie. I hear you and know first hand about the abuses and insecurities in raising and home schooling children with an unbelieving husband. Keep up the good work. God sees you, He hears you and He loves you. Don’t work so hard on getting your husband to do/give/act the way you hope. Just keep close to Jesus to meet your needs. Make it a priority to pray, to read your Bible, to feed your soul and the souls of your children. The change and help you desire will come in time. It may not be what you think, but you can be sure God is working all this for your good.

  4. Thank you again for that. I turn 42 next month and my children range in ages from 23 to 4. Just when I seem to have reached a balance with things something happens that throws everything off. I thought I would have more answers by now and have more balance but I am finding I just need more flexibility. Able to roll with the ups and downs and keep my eyes on the goal. I guess that is the bigger picture. We want to give our children training and answers to life but we don’t have all the answers. I am finding that what they are seeing is a mom that runs to Jesus and never gives up even when she messes up. Sometimes I wonder if other moms feel the way I do. If their heart hurts so bad with a desire for her children to know God but lacks the clarity on how to accomplish this. I realize more each day that it has nothing to do with me and more about His gift to them. My prayer is He tugs at their heart and directs my children to Him. Even though I sometimes get in the way.

  5. I prayed for the Lord to put a mentor in my life because I truly do not have the older woman in my life to look up to in the way I need.
    Funny thing is He put two women in my life who aren’t even mothers, and one that never even married.
    Thank you Lord for Corrie Ten Boom and Joni Erickson Tada. For those who do not know who these women are, they are hero’s in the faith. Corrie lived in Haarlem Holland and was used by the Lord to hide Jews in the walls of their home during WWII. Later, they were arrested and Corrie’s father, sister and herself were all sent to a concentration camp where her father and sister died. Corrie was saved from death the week before she was to be killed. She went on to be used by the Lord all around the world to minister and share the gospel to countless people. Joni is a quadriplegic who has also been used by the Lord all around the world to share the gospel while giving wheel chairs to disabled people around the world who need them.
    Although they are living or lived (Corrie died in the 80’s) lives in total contrast to mine, they have the same Heavenly Father as me. They have both faced death in their lives, which brought them both to the place of total surrender and trust in the Lord Jesus. Their books and Youtube videos have been some of the most encouraging messages I have ever heard. Through them, I have been so encouraged to go straight to Jesus as my councilor and friend in a way that I had been too reserved in before.
    I am so overjoyed to share how casting my cares on Him in every thought or situation has been changing my life, which has been changing our families lives. Praise God!
    Here are youtube videos of each for those interested. 🙂
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xAJA1hNcUI
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXhyyQ14Ens

    1. Kristi,

      I think reading about other women like these is SO very important! It also helps to put our own lives in perspective. Nancy Leigh Demoss has been very influential in my life and from time to time, I like to dig up biographies of great women of the past like Susanna Wesley, Sarah Edwards, etc. to bolster my faith.

  6. I realized that I had turned the corner into being an “older mom” when our young pediatrician started asking my advice on potty training at my daughter’s well baby check. It caught me off guard as I am still feel like I’m floundering and not doing much better than I did in my twenties.

    Even now I find myself wishing for a friend who has been there, done that to encourage and give good advice. I don’t know why, but the empty nest moms of many in my life (includes my mother in law) are quite critical and have sharp tongues-not just to me, but all young and middle aged moms. This has made me ask God over and over to let the hard times in life soften me. I want to grow more tender and more merciful because, despite what the Peace Corp says, motherhood is the toughest job you’ll ever love. I hope to be an encourager to younger women rather than a discourager.

    Moms beat themselves up-often. Just today I cried and cried thinking of another area in which I failed to have enough faith, patience and trust. Sometimes I need to be convicted, but sometimes I need a hug and a smile.

    1. “I want to grow more tender and more merciful because, despite what the Peace Corp says, motherhood is the toughest job you’ll ever love. I hope to be an encourager to younger women rather than a discourager.” Just having this desire is a great start, Erin.

    2. Erin,

      I’m sorry that the older women in your life behave in the manner you describe. Christian women need to be thinking about how they can be approachable to younger women, and a critical spirit and sharp tongue are ugly, and are serious deterrents to approachability.

      It’s encouraging to read of your commitment to rise above that example you’re seeing.

  7. Thank you for such a beautiful post. As a young woman I find I have been really struggling with this issue. I seem to have trouble finding Godly friends, my heart painfully desires older and young women of God as friends and mentors but its a struggle. Everytime I am around them I end up feeling like I am an outsider which is painful. I would love to have that balance. Praying that God opens up those friendships for me. Thank you for a beautiful post

  8. A friend shared this today — a comforting word for when we Christians feel alone, without people who can help us with our struggles.

    Because we were created for God, only through His Spirit are we made complete. He is the ultimate solution to man’s aloneness: He’s always available and will never forsake or forget you. When others let you down, the Comforter is present to lift you up with the reminder that you’re not alone.

    http://www.christianity.com/devotionals/in-touch-charles-stanley/in-touch-oct-12-2011.html

  9. You are?! I’m SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!! Did you announce it somewhere and I just missed it? What an amazing blessing! I pray God’s grace and strength to be on you and the growing little “someone” in your womb! I needed some good news today, so thank you!

  10. Hi Gals! I am Julie, wife to Terry for 34 years, and mom to eight. My oldest is 32, and my youngest is 16. I , too, feel like I should be way farther along than I am, but I do thank God for his patience and loving-kindness. My mentor is Elizabeth Elliot. Google her. She has been dead for a couple years, and I never actually “met” her, ( except in a receiving line after attending a talk), but she helped me through so many hard years with her truth, and unwavering trust in God and His word. I hope you will look her up!!

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