Wednesday, June 08, 2016
Guest Post: Debbie McBride - Older Moms, Younger Moms
When I relaunched my blog a few weeks ago I mentioned that from time to time I would have a guest blogger. This week, while I’m traveling with our Missions Team in Mexico, is a great time for me to try that concept out. I’m excited to share a guest post with you from Debbie McBride, my personal assistant and the Office Manager at Christian Challenge. She’s a mother of four, and though her children are in their teens and 20s now, she hasn’t forgotten what it was like to have young kids at home and how isolating that can be.
Last week, I talked about how isolation can make us vulnerable to situations where others can take advantage of us. We all go through seasons that are difficult, lonely, and frustrating. But we live in a culture that values independence and self-reliance, so we don’t want to look weak in the eyes of others. Sometimes maybe we’re a bit too good at it. We work hard to hide our brokenness... and then wonder why no one notices that we’re hurting.
On the flipside, we don’t want to insult others by implying that they are somehow broken. We don’t want to offend them with an unwanted offer of help. So we take their facades at face value and don’t reach out, even when we suspect something isn’t quite right.
That’s not genuine relationship. That’s certainly not discipleship. I think we can do better.
I was a mess. I had four small children in the span of eight years. Neither my family nor my husband’s family were available to help support me. We had one aging vehicle and lived in an older home that seemed to be falling apart a bit at a time. My husband worked 60-70 hours a week to try to take care of us. I was alone at home with the kids ALL.THE.TIME. My only escape was church on Sunday and the grocery store when I could get the car to make a trip, usually with all the kids in tow. I had no close friends and my marriage was strained. I was still coming to terms with a turbulent, troubled past and trying to figure out how this marriage and parenting thing was supposed to work. I desperately needed guidance and help but felt there was no one to turn to. Depression hit me like a ton of bricks and I had an emotional breakdown. I felt like a freak. Those who knew me didn't quite know what to do with me and those who didn't just pretended all was well.
I don't want that to happen to the young mothers I see in our church. I want them to have help available. But, what does that look like? Often, we only see these moms for a couple of hours once a week. We don't know their struggles. We don't know much about them at all beyond their presence on Sunday morning. How do we older women reach out to the younger women who are in the middle of that season of life and help them? Younger women, how can we older women best help you?
I understand you are hesitant to reach out and I don't want to get all up in your business and I don't want to invade your privacy or create an unhealthy relationship, but I do want to help. As an older mom, I've been there, done that, got the scars to prove it and I believe I have hard earned wisdom from my experiences to share that may make this season in your life more bearable.
Younger women, do you want an older womans perspective? Are you willing to hear encouragement? I believe many older women want to be an encourager to our young mamas but don't know how to do it in practice. What are some ways that we can be of practical use to you?
Older women, please keep in mind, our goal is to help our little sisters, therefore, do not be judgmental or a gossip. Keep their confidences close. Do your best to carefully consider the situation and their strengths and weaknesses before giving advice.
I would have loved to have someone with experience to talk to, to vent to, to ask for ideas, to help me, to have an adult conversation with and to know that someone, anyone who could have seen I was at my wits end and gently steered me in the right direction. It took three years for me to recover from my breakdown. Three years lost. Three years taken from my family. I don't want that for the young mamas in my world. I see you corralling your kids. I see you're doing your best. I see how tired your are. I see your struggle to pretend all is well.
Would you be willing to let someone in and help? If you are seeing yourself in these words and would like a listening ear and a tender heart toward where you are right now in life, I would love it if you reached out to me. I won't impose where I am not wanted, but if any of what you just read resonates with you, please just give me a call, send me a message, grab me after church, whatever works for you and I would love to get with you and start a friendship.
I really appreciate Debbie being willing to share her story and her offer to help. We’re all in different places in our lives. Maybe you’re in a place where you can take Debbie up on her offer. If so, I hope you will. Or maybe you’d like to make a similar offer to others, and share from your experiences. No matter where we are in our journey, we should always be on the lookout for people we can reach out to. And in a perfect Christian community, we would also always have people in our lives who were reaching out to us.
And that’s what discipleship is really about!
I think sometimes we might be a bit put off by the word “discipleship” because it sounds so formal, so old-fashioned, so… religious. At Christian Challenge we talk a lot about discipleship because it’s one of our core values. We teach about it in our foundational class, the Disciple’s Heart. We believe that it is of the utmost importance, a sign of spiritual maturity.
But perhaps in that process, we’ve inadvertently led you to believe that it takes more training, more knowledge, more experience than you have. Maybe it seems like such a lofty thing that you don’t feel worthy of offering it to others or even receiving it for yourself. Maybe you feel like you don’t have any strengths that are strong enough to be a help to anyone else. Maybe you feel like you should leave the “discipleship” to the pros.
NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!
This week, I’d like to challenge every one of you to be a little vulnerable (but in a good way). Just like Debbie did in her guest post, I’d like you to think of a time in your past when you wished you had more support from your brothers and sisters in Christ. Ideally, you want to pick something that is far enough behind you that you’ve found some healing and can offer some of the perspective that only comes with distance. Or perhaps you can pick a time when you wish you had reached out to someone and didn’t because of whatever reason. Describe the situation, then offer to be there for someone who might be facing a similar situation.
You may be wondering, what if I do this and no one responds to me? That’s a definite possibility. I’m asking you to take a risk. Because it will bless someone, even if you never know about it. And maybe, just maybe, someone will take you up on your offer.