The article was in a Christian magazine. The author, a woman, was concerned. She had lived with a group of young women while taking a class, and they were slobs. She worried that the next generation of young women would not know how to clean their houses.
I read it during one of my infant son’s few short nap times and it struck me with guilt. I should have been cleaning instead of resting. Not only was I letting my family down, but my entire generation.
I wish the 41-year-old me could go back to that weary 25-year-old and dry her tears. I would remind her that she had a right to be tired, and a right to want to rest. We had just relocated, and the move was more difficult than we expected. I was in a cramped apartment. I suspected my downstairs neighbors were junkies. My baby boy had been sick for most of the summer. The apartment wasn’t even that dirty. But all I could feel was the judgment of a woman I didn’t know.
The woman’s message wasn’t evil. There have been times when I needed to be told to get up and get moving. (Take Thursday, for instance. I could have used that message then.) Just not that day in that particular season.
Books and blogs and magazine articles can be good things. Sometimes I’ve read things that told me exactly what I needed I hear. Sometimes I’ve tossed the book aside in disgust when I should have listened. And other times I’ve felt unnecessary condemnation.
The model Paul gives us in Titus 2 is for the older women to teach the younger women. That implies a personal, one-on-one relationship. In the three years before I read that article, I had gotten married, graduated college, got my first “grown-up” job, bought our first house, had a baby, and moved to a new city. That’s a whirlwind three years, but I hadn’t been an adult long enough to know that life isn’t always that eventful. I thought I should be handling things better. I needed someone with some long-term perspective to tell me I really wasn’t doing that bad, considering. Someone to babysit while I went to the laundromat would have been nice, too.
We don’t always judge ourselves well. Sometimes we have unrealistic expectations. Sometimes we rationalize bad behavior. A real friend can help you see which you’re doing. I’ve written an article or two, and I’ve read even more. But real friends can listen to our worries, dry our tears, and tell us when we’re full of beans. They can bear our burdens, weep when we weep, and rejoice when we rejoice.
Please keep reading the books and blogs and magazine articles as time allows, but don’t let them keep you from being a real friend to a real person who needs you.