Guest Post by Andrea Green of The Greenbacks Gal
Last year, when Stephanie confessed her feelings of being overloaded and overwhelmed, I knew exactly how she felt and my heart cried out for her. Although my girls are now teenagers, those years of raising young children remain one of the most difficult periods of my life. I remember many days where I just wanted help and having no where to turn. I still define those years of parenting as being "in the trenches" where some days you feel you are fighting just to maintain your very life.
During those years of raising young children, church was one of my sanctuaries. I loved to be able to sit in services and enjoy the peace and fellowship. However, there was one barrier to my peaceful Sundays. The church nursery did not have enough volunteers. Therefore, the parents had to take turns volunteering in the nursery once a month.
I remember one particular Sunday when a friend of mine and I were volunteering. She looked at me and asked, "Where are the Titus women?" Admittedly, I had no idea what she meant.
She explained she was referring to Titus 2:4 where the mature women of the church are tasked with teaching the younger women to love their husbands and children.
To teach is an active verb - meaning to take action she explained. Where were the mature women who were past this season of life who could come alongside us and help us in our time of need? If ever we needed someone to teach us to love our children it was during this season of life - when our very selves were extended to the point where we didn't feel capable as mothers.
Since then, I have always remembered that when my children were grown, I wanted to be a Titus 2:4 woman of the church. Are you a more mature woman of the church? Young women who are adding to their families - like Stephanie - need us to support them. How can we do this?
Offer Your Time
Perhaps the best example of a Titus 2:4 woman I've ever heard of involves my friend Jennie. Jennie had her two children 16 months apart. Her husband was in medical school and they lived far from any family. A mature woman in her church saw the need and stepped up. She watched those children every week for 3 hours so Jennie could have 3 hours of free time to take care of herself. Jennie often talks about how this gift of time saved her during a time of stress in their lives.
Use Your Experience
Remember, in Titus we are appointed with teaching these young women to love both their husbands and their children. Just as these young women are becoming moms for the first time - the men are becoming fathers for the first time. These women need our experience in navigating not only their new relationships with their children, but in redefining their relationships with their husbands. Sometimes they just need to know - that it is all perfectly normal and this period of adjustment will pass.
There are so many ways you can demonstrate love to these young moms. You can start by bringing a meal. Most families get lots of meals within the first two weeks of a baby being born. Why not wait until week 7 or 8 when the family has been sleepless for several weeks and the offer for meals has dried up. Or how about just an offer to hold the baby. I loved it when my father-in-law would hold my baby during mealtime so I could just eat with my arms free. Admittedly, now that my arms are free, I love the opportunity to hold a squirming baby!
Those of us who have suffered burnout need to be attentive to those young women of the church and be on the lookout for signs of trouble. I know my husband had no idea how desperate I was, and so he didn't know to get me help. How could he? I didn't know I needed help myself! Take the time to really talk to those young women and if you see signs of trouble, offer to get them help.
Who hasn't been to the mall or the grocery store and been irritated by the screams of someone else's small children? Next time, instead of being annoyed, why not extend grace? Have you ever offered an encouraging word? We don't know what circumstances that mom may be facing. Who knows what your small act of love and grace can mean to the life of that person. And isn't that what a mature woman of the church is being called on to do?
Specifically, pray for these women for strength, for stamina, for wisdom, and for grace. Every new mom deserves to know that a prayer warrior is championing for them.