Full Circle

A week or so ago, I was starting a load of laundry when the baskets full of clean, waiting-to-be-put-away laundry that I’d been walking around for a few days caught my eye. My son was building something out of Mega Blocks nearby and my daughter was concentrating at the floor near my feet, trying to pick up a single pine needle from the floor to put into her mouth. Surveying this scene, it hit me that my life had come full circle.

In the years after I graduated college, before I started working in ministry, I spent a season cleaning houses for some of the ladies in my church. Many mornings in each home began just like the moment in my hallway that morning: mounds of clothes to put away, piles of toys to sort, and 10,000 other tasks begging for attention alongside very active and darling children

It was a surreal season of feeling like I was going nowhere [I got a college degree and the accompanying student loans to clean houses?!?], but it was also kind of fun. I’d come to clean and end up deep in conversation about life, marriage and kids, and whatever else, over lunch or a cup of tea (after cleaning and before more cleaning). Those women became dear friends and trusted mentors.  Looking back, I can see how it left an indelible mark on my spiritual walk.

I didn’t know it at the time, but my experience mirrored Paul’s command to Titus,

As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching…Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. (Titus 2:1,3-5)

When Paul commands older women to teach younger women, it’s in the context of teaching doctrine. To Paul, doctrine (beliefs) and actions were inseparable. You could demonstrate how solid your beliefs were by building your life around those principles. He knew that when people with more life experience shared their lives with those younger than them, that it would help the young women and men to navigate different seasons of their lives and persevere in the faith.

That kind of faith walk was exactly what I was privy to as I cleaned houses. Women older than me, further along in their spiritual journeys, were showing me what faith looked like in everyday life, in times of joy and sorrow, in new babies, layoffs, and navigating countless family decisions, conflicts, and challenges. It was discipleship and it was a gift. Even years later, I can see how it impacts my marriage and parenting.

Now that I realize that I’ve come around to be in the same stage of life that my former mentors were, I have to ask myself, who am I pouring into? Yes, Matt and I lead a life group, but this is deeper. Who is coming into my home before it’s polished and presentable? Who is encountering me at the moment I am struggling with difficult news to see my honest reaction and pray alongside of me? Who is watching me as I raise my kids? It’s time to be intentional.

The irony is that I don’t feel prepared to help other younger women grow in their faith. I’m sure the moms I worked for didn’t feel fully prepared either. We just fell into (completely God-ordained) mentoring relationships years ago. The beauty of that is that Jesus used them in my life right where they were, not even having to leave their houses. God really can work through our lives right were we are, even if we think we need a program or formal training. All he needs are people willing to follow him.

As I pray about what my next steps are, I challenge you to do the same. If you are strong in your faith, find people to whom you can model mature faith. If you realize you still have room to grow (hint: this is everyone), seek out others who can walk in front of or alongside of you, spurring you on in your faith.

May each of us live lives that are built upon the solid foundation of Jesus, so that other will know his goodness. Ultimately, may our eyes be opened to the opportunities right in front of us for his glory.

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