One of my biggest fears in life is becoming one of those 40-year-old women on Oprah who whine about how they don’t know who they are after their kids leave. I look at them and wonder how they got to the point where they don’t know what they like or what their dreams are. Basically they don’t know who they are.
I’ve met these women in real life too. I remember I was at a women’s event and a woman who was older than me asked a question, “How do you build relationships with women?” She had heard me talking about some of my friendships with women and she said to me one of the saddest things I have ever heard. “I just don’t know how and now my daughter who is in her twenties is asking me how and I don’t know what to tell her. I home-schooled my kids when we moved here and just never really made any friends.” My heart broke for her. How lonely she must be! How desperate for relationship she must be! I can’t imagine life without friends! Oh God, I don’t want to turn in to her!
But what is frustrating me is that even when you try to create opportunities for these women to be in relationship with other women, they don’t take them. A few of my friends and I started a Christian women’s group in my town. The first few meetings we had a wide range of women who came, some women older than me and some younger than me. It was a great mix! In fact, at our first meeting one woman with teenagers said her husband made her come because he knew how much she needed relationships with other women. Unfortunately, she has not returned. I have noticed that we have slowly lost most of the older women. Some of my friends have told me it’s because they must not need what we are offering; they must have their relational needs being met other places. I don’t believe that. I have wondered if there is something we have done as younger women that makes them feel unwelcome. I am sad because they don’t understand how much we need women who are older than us in our lives or how much they need women who are younger than them.
But lately I’ve started to wonder if it’s because they don’t put themselves on the list….the “to-do list.” Ice Queens put themselves at the top of the list all the time. They only do the things that will benefit them in some way. If they don’t get anything out of it, it doesn’t go on the list. These are the women who may look at women who are younger than them and think that they don’t have anything to give. They think younger women will just take from them, and they are already exhausted from giving everything they have to their husband and kids. They can’t be bothered with one more relationship.
Paupers put themselves at the bottom of the list all the time. They don’t even think they deserve to be on the list at all! Everyone else’s desires, needs, and wants get higher priority than their own. These are the women who can’t come because they are so busy running their kids around and trying to please their husbands, they don’t have any time for themselves. This sounds like a good Christian woman, but it is most definitely not Christ-like.
Jesus was a Prince. He let his Father decide where he should be on the list. Some days that meant he was at the top of the list and withdrew from the crowd to have some alone time. On Good Friday, he was at the bottom of the list in obedience to the Father. He humbled himself to the point of death.
I think for women it is sometimes more difficult to be at the top of the list than to be at the bottom. There is definitely a lot less guilt involved at the bottom of the list. A couple of times this year I have been given permission to be at the top of the list. Andrew and I went on a cruise together just the two of us for five days. Trust me, it was a lot of work to get out of the door and leave instructions for four kids for the week. It took three adults, my mom, my dad and my aunt, to replace me for a week. It would have probably been easier for all of us if I would have stayed home. But I would have missed the opportunity to realize Andrew is still my favorite person in the room and that some day when the kids are gone, we might still like each other. My mom, dad and aunt wouldn’t have built relationships with my kids, and my kids wouldn’t have gotten to know them.
I also took a weekend retreat with my Bible study gals. Again difficult to leave, but it was an amazing Holy Spirit time I will never forget. I would have missed out on really deep relationship building if I had decided it was too much to ask of my husband.
Last month I decided to put myself on the list and set aside a half a Saturday to work on a creative project I have been called to do. The first Saturday I was planning to do it, other things happened. I had a college friend come into town, so I decided to spend time with her instead. Plus it was the first week of baseball and other things had to get done first. Apparently God was moving me and my personal agenda down the list. So I changed my plan without anger or resentment. After all, a Princess does what pleases the King.
However I put in it the calendar again for the following Saturday. I locked myself in my room and went to work while Andrew was in charge of the kids. “It’s okay to let him watch all four kids. You do it every day. It wil be good for him to remember what it’s like,” I kept telling myself trying not to feel guilty for putting myself at the top of the list. Or rather letting the Father move me to the top of the list by giving me a husband who was willing and supportive and time to work. I emerged from my room re-energized and happy. It felt so good to spend time being creative and doing what God has made me to do!
I’m not saying it is easy, but please put yourself on the list! It’s not a sin to be at the top sometimes. Let the Holy Spirit help you to know when you should go, what you should do and where you should move. Don’t be afraid to ask others for what you need. Don’t be afraid to take what you need when he or she gives it to you. The Father may have given it to them so they could give it to you. But you will never know if you don’t PUT YOURSELF ON THE LIST!