Finding Balance for the Older Woman
by Paula Titus
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Older women, whose children are grown, may remember looking forward to this period of their lives with anticipation. A period when children no longer need the majority of their time and energy, a period when these women can finally take a breath. But, as with most things in life, our plans rarely work out the way we expect. Older women often find themselves more involved than ever in careers, perhaps a career which was put on hold for the sake of the children or many women decide to work full time as opposed to part time once the children are grown. Christian women, at this stage in their lives often find themselves maturing not only physically but spiritually, and as we grow in the Lord it’s only natural that we would desire to be involved in new or different ministries at our local church and in our community.
Finding the right balance between all of these activities can be quite challenging, but not impossible. The first step is determining priorities. And there is no better way to figure out what our priorities should be than from the Word of God, since God Himself must always be our first priority.
Many people confuse making God our first priority with making ministry our first priority. They believe the two are the same, which of course they are not. Having a deep, abiding, developing relationship with God is not a “ministry,” it is the totality of our lives and everything else flows from that. We live and move and have our being in Him (Acts 17:28). Ministry is the various services we do because we love Him, want to serve Him, and want to be obedient to our calling. This is true for men and women of any age and any station of life. To be sure we are making God our first priority we must never neglect to do those things which will bring us closer to Him, primarily reading our Bibles and daily prayer. Meditation on who He is and what He has done, giving thanks and offering praise, seeking after love, engaging all five senses in heartfelt worship, and always forgiving. In making God our first priority, neither must we neglect all other things which are important priorities in our lives. If we, as busy women fail in this area of making God first, the rest of our lives - our relationship, our jobs, our service, can never be excellent.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus quotes a passage from Genesis 2:14, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Matthew 19:5). In this “being united,” it refers to an unbreakable bond, a picture of one who is pursuing, tirelessly and earnestly after another. And this speak of “one flesh,” is to say husbands and wives will be so close, so intimate, so devoted to one another that the two, in some sense, will become as one person. The Apostle Paul wrote that this intimacy is like what God’s people can experience with Jesus. The marriage of one wife and one husband can be compared to, or be a picture of the church, with Christ as the head and the church as the body, being one (Ephesians 5: 23 & 31-32). From these passages, and more which aren’t listed here, we learn we must therefore make our marriages our second priority. Whether we are involved in one or one hundred various church activities and ministries, if our marriages are suffering, it will be reflected in all that we do.
Unfortunately, secular society wants to tell women that they can do all things and do them well, which sounds good, but simply is not true. The Bible tells women our primary calling is to meet the needs of our family by “managing the home,” this doesn’t stop being true after the children are grown and/or out of the house (Titus 2:4-5 & 1 Timothy 5:14). The phrase in 1Timothy, “manage their homes,” when translated from the original Greek literally means “rule the home.” This means wives are in charge of the daily affairs of managing the house, making sure the family has all they need in terms of basic necessities, food, clothing, cleanliness, financial managing, etc. Certainly because of modern technology, much less time is required to do things like grocery shopping compared to growing our own food, still there are more than enough household responsibilities to keep any woman busy, whether there are children in the home or not.
If we study the profile of the godly woman portrayed in Proverbs 31, we can’t help but notice that she is not only a faithful servant of God and a loving wife, she is also entrepreneurial. “She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes” (Proverbs 31: 16, 18, 24). Therefore, we find in this passage (and others) there is no wrong found in a woman working to help support the family. However, we ought not make this into something it isn’t, as if this means all women should absolutely be involved with aiding the finances, certainly women with small children may not have time. But for the older woman, or woman without children, there are wonderful benefits, other than making money, in working outside the home.
The popular saying, “A woman’s work is never done,” has more truth in it than most people realize. The woman of Proverbs 31 is no different. We read that “she gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family” (vs.15) “and her lamp does not go out at night” (vs. 18) “and does not eat the bread of idleness” (vs. 27). God has blessed women with the ability to be awesome caretakers of our families, astonishing managers of the home, and creative entrepreneurs. He has done all of these things without leaving out His spiritual gifts to be exercised within the church; teaching, administration, exhortation, etc.
Because women are so gifted at multitasking, we often get sucked into the vortex of over scheduling ourselves. But even the most industrious woman cannot “bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan,” plus maintain a functioning household, spend quality time with her husband, have daily prayer time, and do service to Christ inside the local church and community. Undoubtedly, something is going to suffer. Which is why we must remember what our main priorities are and do them well. There is no magical formula for what this looks like, every woman and each life is unique. All of us have experienced doing many things at once yet never doing anything with completeness or a sense of fulfillment. This is why we must commit to making the most of our time by spending it wisely on those things which have eternal value and not waste one minute.
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