But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 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, submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.Titus 2:1-6 (ESV)
You will not find so much loathing as you will find in an online mom’s group. As a new mom looking for a way out of the loneliness that accompanied leaving the bustling world outside my home for the bustling world inside my home, I found myself surrounded by seasoned women who did nothing but disparage their husbands and curse their children. These women were proud to be “hot messes” and took great pride in their attempts at “self-care”. Their entire lives revolved around painting themselves to be Cinderella for their families. Poor them. They had to change diapers. Poor them. They had to provide snacks for hungry toddlers. Poor them. They had to vacuum the living room. And I could see how this thankless work could become a burden, but I could also see that this was exactly what I’d been praying for.
Motherhood doesn’t have to be lonely; it isn’t meant to be. As Paul writes to Titus, the Church should be offering the community opportunities that new mothers so desperately need. (And young fathers, and singles, and seniors.) He knew that young mothers would need mentors. He knew older women would need someone to pour into. He knew young men would need to be guided. He knew older men needed a way to give back. I find it fascinating that Paul knew what the alternative would be. Reviling of the word of God. (Revile: loathe: curse: disparage.) Reviling that man should not be alone and the two will become one. Reviling that children are a blessing and inheritance from the LORD. Sound familiar?
When we look at our own church community, we tend to think about what they can do for us. We want a community that looks exactly like where we are in life. We’re Goldilocks going from church to church saying, “Too old,” “Too young,” “Too formal,” “Too casual,” “Too big,” “Too small”—looking for that one “magical” church that we can declare is “just right”. But that’s not the Church Paul is describing. We don’t need to find others exactly where we are to be benefitted by a community of believers. We need whomever God has sent us in our local church. As a young mom, that meant a few moms a decade older than me and a lot of grandmothers and great-grandmothers. I loved the church I had my first children in. I might not have taken all their advice (I wasn’t going to feed my babies raw eggs or give them sugar wrapped in cheesecloth as a pacifier), but I did appreciate their experience. They were hard-working women who stood alongside their husbands and raised strong kids in church. I needed them! And I like to think they needed me, too. Even though I really only had baby rolls and toddlers crawling under pews during service to offer. (And some amazing glazed carrots.) That is what the Body is meant to be. I didn’t need to wallow. I needed to learn to be strong, self-controlled, and work hard in my home.
Now, I’m a middle mom. (I just coined that term), I’ve got teenagers (and babies), but I’m not “done”. But I know where I fit in my church community. Encouragement. Teaching what is good. Training young moms to love their kids and their husbands and to work hard in their homes. I know where I fit into this picture. (Thanks, Paul.) I’m sometimes the one still needing training. I’m now sometimes the one doing the training. But we all have our place because we aren’t meant to do this alone. We all need one another in the body. And it seems that is especially true of mothers. (See how much emphasis Paul is putting on the church ladies?)
If you’re a new mom, forget the mom groups. Just open up to the women God has already given you. If you don’t have a church home, find one. Settle in. Get to know people. Let them get to know you. Find your mentors. Don’t revile the things God has blessed you with. You get to care for those babies. You get to serve your husband. You get a home to manage, clean, adorn, and care for. These are blessings! Don’t be tricked into thinking a blessing is a curse.
If you’re not a new mom, forget mom groups. Open up to the women God has already given you. If you don’t have a church home, find one. Settle in. Get to know people. Let them get to know you. Find people you can pour yourself into. Find people who can pour themselves into you.
I know this is largely focused on moms. Mostly, that is because I am a mom. But also, because this openness and mentorship type relationship isn’t common for women. Men tend to seek out mentorship. Women tend to be more competitive and seek out places to vent. But men, be open with the men in your life. Find community and accountability. Don’t revile the things God has blessed you with. I need all of you there. And you need me.