If I were to write a book, it would be called something like, “A Hot Mess + A Dumpster Fire: Inside My Thirties & My Faith”. It would basically be about how very hard life during this decade AS A CHRISTIAN.
It no longer shocks me how many people think that becoming a believer in Christ means that your life becomes easier. Don’t agree? Think about how many people distance themselves in their relationship with God when something really painful or unexplainable happens to them or someone they love.
From about 31 years old to 41 years old, most of my days were difficult; filled with so many moments of pain and hard to comprehend tragedies. I often questioned God’s power, plan and sometimes I even questioned His love for me.
Before I was a widow, we’d had troubles in our marriage.
And then he died and I was grieving and struggling with those marriage troubles. I was ashamed and embarrassed in my grieving. I attempted to numb the pain by drinking and traveling. I was vulnerable in every arena that I found myself in – with women who were close friends, church members + leaders, employers and co-workers, peers and even some family members.
And because of what God has brought me through, I just know that I have to share my story.
Here are four reasons I’m attempting to write my story as a Titus 2 woman:
1 • I longed to talk to a faithful woman to who could listen, hear and relate
I felt desperate to talk to a woman who had experienced even a sliver of what had happened to me and who would be real about how hard and messy it could be; how emotionally unglued I would be for so much of that decade as I attempted to get my feet back under me.
I was often longing to have a woman hear my story and not feel sorry for me, try to fix me or make it about them. I often shared my story with women who were not to be trusted with my story because I was so desperate to make a connection to another woman who could understand that kind of pain.
While going through it, my healing was often stunted by well-intentioned (or what I need to believe were well-intentioned) folks who detonated more grief by their unknowing. They would want to help but would compound my hurt into harm with what they spoke what they would do if they were in my situation or when they would liken it to their own thing which seemed planets away from what I was feeling. (Don’t tell me about your grandparent who lived to be 89 years old dying when I’m blubbering about burying my 33yo husband. Not right now, thank you very much.)
2 • I longed to talk to a faithful woman who would help me make tough decisions without attempting to control me, taking advantage of me or shaming me
It was not just these kinds of things that made that time difficult. I made tons of horrible decisions that were often smothered in rebellion, desperation, and fear. For example, saying yes to a second marriage that neither one of us should have been in.
I have needed to ask for forgiveness for the things I’ve done to others in my own hurt, escalating an already difficult situation. Many of my poor, impulsive, pain-driven decisions turned a very tragic loss turned into a whole decade of hot messes and dumpster fires. Maybe I will write that book. Perhaps, it’s time to tell that story.
All of it.
3 • I long to help other women know that they do not have to walk through hard things alone
Because every time I sit across from a woman who thinks I can help her better navigate her life’s challenges, grow in her faith in spite of her circumstance or just hear her as she speaks her hard realities aloud, I can relate to her pain. I can hear her hurt and instantly, I feel connected to her.
And in that, I long to help her know that she can survive “it” (whatever it is). And that if she really wants me to, I can help her do the work she needs to in order to experience the victory and then thrive.
4| I long to believe that my story is not just for/about me.
I don’t want my experience to go to waste. I don’t want to believe that all that I went through was just to make me a better person. I also don’t want women to feel like they have to figure everything out on their own or navigate new spaces and seasons as if they are needing to do it independently, laced with comparison and competition.
It makes me think of the scriptures in the Bible that talk about these kinds of relationships between women.
“But you are to proclaim things consistent with sound teaching. Older men are to be self-controlled, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance. In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not slaves to excessive drinking. They are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, workers at home, kind, and submission to their husbands, so that God’s work will not be slandered.” | Titus 2:1-5
Y’all, I have not perfectly achieved this. And that is not really my goal. But in the past 6 months, as I sit and talk and connect with women in their deepest areas of hurt and shame, it’s clear to me that almost every conversation I have with women can be connected to these verses; especially the part about my showing up as an “older woman” encouraging younger women in their hard seasons and spaces.
I’m not proclaiming that I have anything all figured out. That would be laughable. But, I have learned a lot about the “reverent behavior” by doing a lot of not so reverent things. Wondering if you’re a Titus 2 woman? I appreciate this insight: 10 Signs You’re a Titus 2 Woman.
I thank God for His grace (one of my “one little words” for the year) which helps me to see myself more honestly and to share my story here without shame or apology. And to love women as a Titus 2 woman as a few godly, powerful, amazing gems have done for me.
That’s my heart. To share boldly and without fear for the encouragement of other women, especially as women and for women in the church. And because I believe in the power of God’s forgiveness, love, and mercy for His imperfect creations – us. Us who are messy, inconsistent, rebellious, disrespectful, hard-headed, prideful, overzealous, judgmental, critical, undisciplined, divisive and hurtful people. And that’s often before we have tragic things attempt to wreck our souls.
I am and have been all of these things through some horrible, tragic things and want to share with other women to be of help and encouragement as they navigate these hard spaces and places. In the words of Erin Davis, Bible devotional writer, “These aren’t things we inherently know. According to God’s Word, these virtues must be taught. And who should be our teachers? Other women! Women who’ve walked the path of faith ahead of us and can turn and say, ‘Follow me as I follow Jesus.'”