*Editors note* This is the first article of our new summer series. Sweet ladies from the older generation will be sharing their wisdom and advice about many topics with the younger generation. I pray that we all take their words to heart and apply them to our lives.
In the world we live in, I do not envy my younger Christian sisters at all. You have so many things vying for your attention, such high expectations placed on you! You have many unique trials and temptations that even my own generation did not have to worry about. That being said, I want you to know that your older (or I prefer, more experienced) sisters are here for you. We love you, we believe in you, & we are cheering you on as you sojourn in this world! Although I can not know your own unique struggles, I have some guidance I would like to offer you:
First of all, find your cheerleaders! One of the greatest blessings in my life was a sweet old lady affectionately known as Mama Bear. I was nine years old when I met this dear sister, and she was probably in her late 70’s or early 80’s. My dad encouraged my relationship with her (he adored her as well), and at least once a week I would try to spend time with her. I loved listening to her stories, but one of the most amazing things about Mama Bear was that she had absolute faith in me. She was constantly encouraging me and lifting me up. She made such an impact in my life, that although her health prevented her from being there, I wore a necklace she had given me on my wedding day.
Another great blessing is what my husband affectionately calls my “cadre”. This is a handful of sisters that I know, day or night, I can call or text with absolutely anything. They will offer wise, prayerful counsel, they will lift me up when I am down, they will listen when I am discouraged, and they love me enough to gently correct me when I need it. Unfortunately, these dear sisters are scattered all over the country, yet thanks to technology they are literally only a button away when I need them. Galatians 6:2 tells us to bear one another’s burdens, & I Thessalonians 4:18 and 5:11 emphasize the importance of being there to encourage one another. This is something we cannot do if we don’t first form strong relationships with each other.
I say all of that to say this: find ladies, older (Titus 2:3-5) and in your peer group, who will be your cheerleaders! Find older ladies who are willing to mentor and encourage you, and find Godly friends who are walking through the same stage of life to walk alongside. Hopefully, you can find these invaluable sisters in your home congregation, but if not, there are so many places you can find them! I know all of us at Come Fill Your Cup would be glad to be of any help that we can. You can also make wonderful relationships through gospel meetings, teen conferences, camps, and sound Christian Universities.
Sisters, I also want to encourage you to guard your heart. Proverbs 4:23 exhorts us to, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” I know that you hear a lot on remaining sexually pure, but with all the temptations you are deluged with I don’t believe this is enough. Put safeguards in place now, today, to guard your heart. If they haven’t yet, ask your parents to put protections on your electronic devices so that you don’t accidentally stumble into pornography. Be diligent in the music you listen to and the books that you read. So often today music and books are at worst full of sexual promiscuity, and at best they give a completely unrealistic view of what Godly sex and love look like.
Along these lines, when it comes to relationships I urge you, ask why you want a relationship before you enter into one. Is it because you feel that everyone who is anyone has a boyfriend? Is it because you feel like you need a boyfriend to be complete, to be valuable? Is it because everyone expects you to be in a relationship? Sisters, if you want to be in a relationship for any reason other than to marry a Godly man and glorify God in your relationship, then ask yourself if you are really ready for a relationship.
Also, I offer you the same advice that I give my own daughters on a regular basis: wait for the man who will be your Spiritual leader! Don’t settle for a pew sitter. Please don’t engage in “evangelistic dating,” because even with a “good guy,” it’s much easier for him to bring you down than for you to bring him up. The truth is, if he’s not more worried about your soul than your body, he cannot be your spiritual leader. God Almighty knows you better than you know yourself, he knows your innermost needs and desires. When God’s Word says that women are to be in submission to their husbands and that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:22-31), it’s because this is the recipe for a true life happily ever after! Believe me, even when you marry an amazing man of God marriage is not always easy, and it’s not always fun. But it can always glorify God and problems can be resolved when you both love the Lord more than yourselves. Marrying a non-Christian adds another problem and another difficulty to the already difficult task of merging your life with another. And although it is common sense I will go ahead and say it: you will marry someone that you date. Therefore if a man isn’t someone that you want to spend the rest of your life with, then why date him in the first place?
I also want to say that I understand that sometimes, as your older sisters, without realizing it we make this much harder for you. When from the time you are a little girl older sisters are constantly asking you, “Do you have a boyfriend sweetie?!” you can’t help but feel that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t. Please know that we mean well, but at the same time please don’t listen to us when we say this! Singleness is a beautiful gift and opportunity, don’t waste it (I Corinthians 7:8)! When you are single, you are free to go and do and serve in ways that will likely never be possible for you once you are married and have kiddos of your own. I have known sisters who have become missionaries and established orphanages overseas, I know an amazing sister who is an accountant and dedicates a tremendous amount of time to managing the finances of various works of the church, I have known a sister who was an English teacher and dedicated her time to proofing various publications of the Lord’s church, and I know a 90-year-old widow who still makes regular hospital visits, has weekly personal Bible studies and makes special boxes to donate to a home health organization for people with walkers. There are amazing works of service you can do with your singleness, make the most of it! Find ways that you can serve now, just as you are! Work on forming strong relationships with Godly sisters who will help keep you accountable and on the right path as you go through life. Look into opportunities to take mission trips or ways to use your own unique talents for the Lord. If you aren’t sure what your talents are, ask your parents or a sister that you trust.
Please know that there is no shame in singleness, God has a unique plan for all of us. Some of us meet the man of our dreams while we are in High School, marry young and have a whole brood of children. Some of us don’t meet the man God intended for us until much later in life. Some of us will not be able to have children of our own and may or may not choose to foster or adopt. For some of us, God’s plan is for us to serve him in our singleness during our time on Earth. Each of these paths is different, each comes with its own hurts, challenges, and triumphs, and each is a beautiful way to honor God in our lives. Don’t feel that your life has to fit a specific mold to be beautiful or to glorify God.
Finally, my dear sisters, I have one last piece of advice that I want you to prayerfully consider. As we get older and enter into young adulthood, we have a desire to prove ourselves. We want those that we love and respect to view as mature and responsible. There is nothing wrong with this, as long as we understand what true maturity is. Maturity is not the ability to handle bad situations you find yourself in, but true maturity is having the wisdom to avoid bad situations in the first place. I Thes. 5:22 tells us to abstain from every form of evil. James 4:7 tells us to flee from the devil, and 2 Timothy 2:22 warns us to flee from our youthful passions. What does this look like in our everyday lives? It means that if technology is a temptation for you, ask your parents to put safeguards on your devices. It means that if you don’t allow yourself to be alone with your boyfriend, you won’t have to fight sexual temptation with him. It means surrounding yourself with Christians who will help you guard your tongue against vulgarity and gossip. It means not watching movies, listening to music, or reading books with vulgarity or sexuality in them. Be wise sisters, be mature. Don’t put yourselves in a situation where you will be unnecessarily tempted to sin. My dear younger sisters, please know that you are loved. Please know that I believe in you. I’ve seen the amazing things you are already doing for the Lord: writing articles, teaching Bible classes, going on mission trips, studying with your friends, encouraging and honoring your parents and the older brethren in your congregations, keep it up! I cannot wait to see the amazing things that you will continue to do for the Lord, and I and other older sisters are here for you every step of the way. God loves you, and so do we!