This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Emily: Welcome back to another episode of the Risen Motherhood podcast. I am Emily, here with my sister-in-law, Laura. Before we get into our topic today, we just wanted to let you guys know, in case you didn’t, that you can actually read our shows. We have transcriptions through our show notes, which we started awhile ago. We did that because we heard from moms that English was not their first language, and their browser— Google translate—could translate those transcriptions into their language. We also heard from moms with hearing impairments that this was an easier way to consume the podcast.
Laura: Easier for even any mom to be able to read on her phone or computer. Maybe it’s easier if you’re working, you’re nursing, or whatever. There are probably a lot of reasons. We know that quite a few access those, but if you haven’t seen those, there’s a super easy button to click on on every show’s show notes page, which you can find on our website. You can access those and read the show.
Emily: Also, a huge thanks to our patrons because you guys are the ones who fund this, since this actually does cost us money to do. We are really thankful for you guys and excited that hopefully more women get to consume the show this way.
Laura: Alright, we’re going to get into our topic today. We are talking about a fun topic for Emily and I, because we have been really blessed in this area over different times of our lives. We’re talking about women—older mothers, or older women, that have discipled or mentored us—and the effect that they’ve had on our lives. We just want to encourage all you today on how to find one of these women, or maybe what the benefit might be of some of the women who are already in your life.
Emily: I feel like we’ve said this on the show before Laura, but everything good we know, outside of scripture of course, is from older, wiser women who’ve gone ahead of us.
Laura: One hundred percent.
Emily: I can think of so many times. Before I started my first season of discipline with my youngest child, I remember sitting down with a mom whose children were all out of high school, and going, “How do I do this?” She went through with me, step by step, what she did when her children were little. I didn’t do it cookie-cutter exactly that way, but it was incredibly helpful and instructive to me. I can think of so many times where I’ve had a hard decision to make, or honestly, I’ve just had a question like, “When do I help my child get rid of their pacifier?” Where a mom who’s gone ahead of me can help speak into that situation, knowing my context—my life, what’s going on, what our kids are like—and it’s super helpful.
Laura: I totally agree. I know that I have one woman in my life who anytime I struggled with fear or worry, or anxiety would consistently say to me, “Laura, you have better theology than that.” I hear her voice ringing in my ears, and it was such a good reminder of like, “Oh yes, I don’t need to do this.” I’ve been so appreciative of some of the moms who have mourned over things that have happened in motherhood or just shared in my sorrows. But then, also offered that perspective of being further down the road and being able to say, “This too will pass,” or given me that eternal perspective—not only joining with me in the sorrow but knowing they’re further down the road, they were able to reach out a hand and give me hope in that moment.
Emily: Although sometimes I remember when I was in that position of being a first time mom—you want to feel like, “Oh, I’ve kind of got a handle on this.” We always learn and grow with time, and as Laura was saying, it gives us perspective. If we are growing in the word with other believers, we’re also hopefully growing in godliness and in our ability to apply the gospel to a lot of different challenging experiences. When we are in a situation where we need that wisdom, it is helpful to look to a mom who’s gone ahead of us. That doesn’t necessarily mean 20 or 30 years ahead of us. That could be a year ahead of you. Or it could be a mom who’s younger than you with children that are one season ahead of you. Just remember that Laura and I are older moms to other women, and that it’s very much a shifting timeline. [Laughs]
Laura: What we’re trying to say through this show is we might be using the terms “older mom” and “younger mom,” but there is no age. You are older than someone, and even a woman who is in high school can help disciple a younger girl who’s younger than her. For instance, I remember being in elementary and having older high schoolers that I looked up to. I would say that they made a profound impact on my spiritual life. There is never this, “Oh, I am an older woman because I am 50, or 60, or 20.” There’s no line for that, and we want to make that really clear. That everyone is able and built for discipleship, and able to invest in someone who is younger than them. Like Emily was saying, that might even be that they have older children than you, but numerically through their age, they’re younger than you. Or even more spiritually mature too.
Emily: One of the things that comes to mind right off the bat, of why we need this, is because there are so many choices that we face everyday in motherhood that are kind of grey areas. They’re things that we need biblical wisdom to apply truth to our circumstances. Having a woman like this in your life can help you when you aren’t sure how to discipline your toddler, or when you can’t figure out what to do about a school choice, or how to handle a work or childcare situation. Or maybe you’re struggling through questions about family size or you’re in a conflict with your husband and you want to genuinely, humbly seek out wisdom. Like Laura said, maybe there’s something you just need perspective on or you don’t know how to handle something simple like chores. The list goes on and on for how a woman who’s in a further-ahead-of-you stage can really help you have wisdom for your own situation.
Laura: It’s important to remember that if you are married, our husbands are great as our first line of defence for finding new ideas or for dealing with an issue, especially when it concerns your own children. But women who are further down the path than you can be a tremendous help as you try to look at, “What am I going to be doing?” “What does the Bible say about this?” “What is my heart attitude?” I mean, a lot of the women in my life have asked me really hard, penetrating questions that maybe sometimes my husband doesn’t ask me. That’s totally fine, but I’ve been really grateful for some of these deeper issues because they’re females too, and they understand how we work better than our husbands do in some senses. I know that’s something that’s been really helpful, and why we want women in our life like that.
Emily: Going through the gospel—which we always get to do on Risen Motherhood—thinking about creation, there is this generational nature about creation from the beginning. When Adam and Eve were created to be fruitful and multiply, there was also this understanding—and we see this often in the New Testament—that they were going to pass on what they knew about God, his character, the work that he was doing, and the covenant promises he made to them from one generation to another.
Laura: We see that especially as a pattern in the Old Testament. We’ve talked about this a lot when we talk about parents investing in their children. This same pattern happens through older women—like spiritual mothers in your life—being able to invest and pass down biblical instruction to you. I think too, in the Bible, we see that grey hair is often referred to as a really good thing.
Emily: Yes! [Laughter]
Laura: I have a couple of grey hairs and I am like, “Wisdom. It’s just wisdom. It means I am getting wiser.” But that’s something that we see in the Psalms, and with age and life experience, often, not always though, does come spiritual maturity.
Emily: Even though that was God’s good design and good plan, the fall and sin entered. That obviously messes up every relationship we have, and in some ways, impacts on all of God’s good design. Just like Laura was saying, even though life and walking with the Lord should grow us in godliness, now, sometimes as we age, maturity doesn’t always coexist in that. There’s this verse in Psalms 119:100 that says, “I understand more than the aged for I keep your precepts.” It’s kind of that feeling of sometimes when people grow older, if they’re not walking with the Lord and not focusing on his truth, they aren’t necessarily growing in godliness.
Laura: On the flipside of that, we can also have this mentality of we know everything and we’ve experienced enough of life to be able to make all the right decisions. We’re not really numbering our days or recognizing that we need to grow in wisdom and knowledge. Another thing is, with the fall, came a lot of generational power struggles. You know, just think about your relationship with your parents in high school.
Emily: Hello teenage years. [Laughter]
Laura: Exactly. That’s something else that occurred when the fall came, and God’s good design was riddled with sin in some of these ways.
Emily: We see this in the church in the context of this kind of older women, younger women. Again, remembering that those terms are relative. We see in Titus 2, older women had to be reverent in behavior and not slanderous or being slaves to too much wine. They were 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. This is the main verse that we all go to whenever we’re talking about this. But we know that this isn’t always lived out in the church in the way that we would like.
Laura: Just like we were saying earlier with the sin, people aren’t always respectful with one another. Sometimes when you come to people for advice, they might say something that’s untrue or unhelpful, or that isn’t really taking into account your unique situation. Sometimes they encourage us towards worldly things and not towards things of godliness. It’s one of those difficult things about relationship now.
Emily: Sometimes—whether you’re in the older women position at any stage in your life—we don’t always take responsibility for the discipleship that God has entrusted to us: to teach younger women these things. Sometimes when you’re in the position of the younger woman, you don’t want to hear what somebody older than you has to say. Again, that pride element can come into play, and maybe you’re running to Instagram or Google at first to figure out the answers to your problems, rather than seeking out a real relationship with somebody that can help you learn how to do some of these things that are difficult.
Laura: I know sometimes I’ve thought this about my mom, or other women, of, “Times have changed since you were a mom.” My mom will probably listen to the show and be like, “Yes, Laura has said that to me.” I think a really common thing is that we just feel like they grew up in a different age than us. Seriously, since I had a baby five years ago, I am like, “Oh, look at all the new gizmos they have out.” I mean, can I register again, please? Because there is the coolest stuff, and I feel like raising children has changed even in five years.
Emily: The fall impacts our ability to see universal wisdom from older women, whether or not they’ve lived through our specific generation. But there is hope because in redemption and restoration, we see that Christ died for the fact that we sin in all of those ways—our lack of reverence, our pride, and our bad attitudes about older women or women that are younger than us. He died for our lack of engagement and discipleship—the way we fail. It’s just so great that he came to reconcile us to God. That he could give us a new heart so that we can humble ourselves and have some of these relationships as the Bible instructs us to.
Laura: With that comes the fact that you can look at the log in your own eye first. Get that out of your eye before you start looking at the speck in theirs. We can bond over other women who are older and younger than us, and over our status in Christ, whether or not we use this same baby swing.
Emily: I love that—that unity and the gospel piece—regardless of our life experiences, we are one in Christ. That is going to be our eternal reality, so we can definitely work that out now.
Laura: What kind of moms do we really need in our lives? That’s kind of the big question, right? How do we find these moms, and what kinds of moms do we need? The first one we all think of—at least Emily and I have found very invaluable—is the one-step-ahead-of-you mom.
Emily: This could be somebody whose kid is literally a year ahead of your child. Actually our sister-in-law, Becca, really serves as this person for Laura and I. She’s like, “This is how you get enrolled in this sport,” “This is how you register for kindergarten.” [Laughs]
Laura: Yeah. She’s like, “Don’t do that dance class. Do this dance class,” “Here’s how we do quiet times as a family,” “This is a great book that we found,” “This is what you should buy for the next birthday present,” or, “Here’s a great book that your child’s going to love next year.” Or even just being able to say like, “Oh, in one year, they’re going to grow out of that.” [Laughter]
Emily: That’s always encouraging. Another, who is just ahead of the one-step-ahead-of-you mom, is maybe the next-season mom. This could be somebody who’s got kiddos that are like three to seven years older than yours. They have a pretty good hindsight perspective of the stage you’re in, because they’re out of it. But they can still remember and help prepare you for the next big things that are on the horizon. I have a couple of friends whose kids are actually in mid to late elementary school. It’s super interesting to watch some of the issues that they’re dealing with and to just get a little feed in my mind of, “Okay, how can I prepare for that very next thing?”
Laura: Then you have the young adult moms. This one might be someone who is in a season that is just becoming an empty nester. Or her kids are at least largely self-sufficient—in college or almost out of the house. These women that have been in my life have been very helpful for—this is my favorite—giving me all my catchy phrases for motherhood. They always say a lot of these things, and I’ve stolen a lot of their phrases. Any wise things you hear out of my mouth are usually from this generation. They are very helpful in pulling out further perspective and giving you biblical insight and wisdom. Kind of like an all in life—not just in the down and dirty of motherhood but for you as a full woman. You know, like what’s going to be the long term view of your life and how you’re going to raise your kids.
Emily: Then, we love this group as well—kind of the empty nester—the grandmothers. Sometimes these women are far enough from the toddler tantrums that they can’t necessarily always identify with you and give you a fist pump in that moment and say, “I get it.”
But they can just really encourage us in the joys of children. I think many of these women have just lived through a lot of life, and they’ve got some wonderful heart lessons and wisdom that they’ve experienced through trials and suffering of life. For me, these are the women that point me to Christ and to eternity. A lot of the times these are the women that I go to when I am in the midst of a really difficult, big life decision. Not just, “Hey, I am trying to figure out the nitty-gritty of what book to read.”
Laura: They don’t remember how to drop the pacifier. They just don’t. It’s okay, I don’t want want to remember when I am that age.
Emily: I know, I don’t want to remember all these details. [Laughter]
Laura: Then we have the great-grandmother. She may not be kind of boots on the ground, bringing you meals, or offering to watch your toddler. But she’s one of those people that probably just glows when she sees your child. She just reminds you what a sweet gift and a precious thing it is to be a mom and to have children. Those are the kind of women that I just love spending time around.
Emily: Real quick; I know we just broad brushed over a lot of that. But you can experience a variety of different types of wisdom in all these different stages. We’re trying to group it together to give you a feel. Also before we move on, I want to say that you can learn a ton from women who are single or who may not have children. Please do not disregard an older woman who is not married or who does not have children. They can still teach you a ton, and you should still have women like that in your life.
Laura: That’s what I was going to say. You really should still have those types of women in your life. How do you find these type of women? A lot of you are probably thinking, “Oh, this sounds so nice. But I’ve tried, and no one’s responding,” or, “I don’t know anyone who is these ages.” First of all, you’ve heard me say this stuff on the show before, and Emily can attest to that, I admit that I can be sort of fearless about meeting new people. But sometimes this takes intentionality. You have to approach the older woman and, likely, she feels insecure. She probably feels unqualified, like she’s not good enough and doesn’t have something to offer you. You therefore may have to take that first step to affirm her, encourage her and say, “I will take you, sins and all. I don’t care about the warts. I want to learn from you because I’ve seen you and I’ve seen your life. I’ve watched it from afar, and now I’d like an up close view.”
Emily: Definitely ask questions and be teachable. If you put yourself in the path of this older woman, go to her instead of maybe going straight to Google. Call or text her or ask her to come over and give her your questions.
Laura: That’s right. And know that a little goes a long way. Sometimes we imagine these relationships as we meet once a week for coffee, which is not realistic when you’re a mom. That’s where we want to remember that, at least for me, and I know I speak for Emily too, we have been immensely helped by even saying, “Hey, can I meet with you for coffee for 45 minutes today? It’s a one-time meeting.” This mom, this woman knows that we’re going there to have an intentional discussion about something we’re working through. That is probably very honoring to her, and you are probably going to come away with more clarity and peace in your situation. Know that you don’t have to have this weekly meeting. Or maybe you guys meet up and you have the kids with you. It doesn’t always have to be these deep heart-to-hearts with hot coffee. Think of it as your quiet time, right? Where you don’t get the perfect quiet time when you are a mom. You might not get that perfect looking mentorship moment when you are a mom.
Emily: If you are in transition right now and you’re like, “I don’t have these women in my life, and it’s just not going to happen.” Maybe you’re a missionary in another country, or maybe you’re a part of a church plant and you have very few older moms to commune with—whatever your reason, it happens. But God can still be gracious in those situations. And there are still older women; I mean, you can even look online. Look at Elisabeth Elliot or Nancy Wolgemuth, or somebody like that, that you can learn from. Or Karen Ellis. All these people come to mind—on audio books or podcasts or radio. That’s not a replacement for flesh and blood, but God can still provide wisdom in those seasons.
Laura: And keep an eye out with that. You really never know when you will cross paths with the woman that is perfect for being able to invest in your life. We just want to encourage you guys today. We know that it can be hard—relationships can be very difficult. It’s not going to go perfectly, but we want to encourage you to persevere because these relationships are so worth it. Also, be intentional and willing to put yourself out there. Both in the sense of looking for someone and asking them and saying, “Hey, will you invest in my life?” But also, you know how much you’re probably craving it, there might be a mom who’s younger than you that is also craving it. That might be a situation too where you can offer assistance or help. Or just make yourself available to those moms, because we want to share the wisdom that we’ve all learned, and that God has blessed us each individually with so that we can all grow towards the kingdom.
Emily: Alright. So be not wise in your own eyes, mom. [Laughter]
Laura: A little Proverbs for you there.
Emily: Thanks for joining us today. You can find everything @risenmotherhood.com, including our show notes and our training scripts. You can also follow us on social media @risenmotherhood on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Thanks, guys!