#Tribe seems to be one of the things I am constantly inundated with on Instagram these days. It’s usually attached to a photo of a few teenage or twenty-somethings making duck faces or just loving life in general. While I am a huge fan of Christian community, I fear that we are limiting ourselves if our “tribe” only consists of people familiar with the tribe trend.
Communities are not built around people who are exactly the same. Diversity is a beautiful thing. We are all aware that we should seek to surround ourselves with people who look and think differently than we do. We look for diversity in ethnicity and, if we’re really edgy, political views, but too often, the limit to that diversity is age.
Ladies, we need to step up our diversity game.
When you survey your friends, is there anyone in a different life stage than yourself? Is there anyone significantly older or younger who might be able to provide a different perspective than you and your peers have?
We’ve all read the Titus 2 exhortation for old women to train the younger women in Godliness. There is a strong disconnect from Scripture if we think this is only in the context of formal Bible studies. Throughout Scripture, training is seen in the context of relationships. Elijah brought Elisha alongside him to be trained. Jesus spent three years traveling with and training His disciples. Paul trained Timothy through a close, friendship relationship. If we want to live out Titus 2, we need to develop close relationships with people in different stages of life.
Deep community and meaningful instruction can only come through the open vulnerability unique to friendships. Women in other stages of life, both older and younger, have perspectives to add. They see life from a different angle. Blindspots, which are a certainty for each generation, tend to vary. When we are building community with people in different ages, they are able to help us see where our blindspots lie.
Older women, this requires sacrifice. It often means putting aside what you want and doing the hard work of building friendships. Depending on your stage of life, it might mean pushing back your children’s regular schedule to grab lunch or dinner or neglecting your own bedtime to engage in conversation with a night owl. Many times, you will have to be the initiator in these relationships. Do the brave, vulnerable work of being the first one to extend your hand in friendship.
Younger women, our generation has lost the art of hospitality. Open your homes or apartments or even host someone at a local park. Practice opening up and inviting people into your life. Invite people over for dinner even if your house is insufficient. Be the woman who offers whatever you have in service to others. And never forget that you are the “older woman” to someone just behind you.
But we need to reach beyond age differences. If we want to strengthen our tribe, we need to humble ourselves and open ourselves up to learning. We need to foster friendships of different ethnicities, political views, and economic circles. Our lives are limited. Let’s bring people into our lives who can speak into our lives and spur us on in the path towards Godliness.
When we practice building these friendships, we strengthen our circle. Life will bring many unexpected challenges but when we build community beyond those like ourselves, we are strengthened.
I have seen this play out in my own life. When my husband and I were diagnosed with infertility, we were the first of our peer group to bear that burden. I am so grateful for the women, older than myself, whom I am friends with because in this time, several of them were able to identify with that struggle and share with me their experiences. They pointed me to Christ and filled me with hope.
Our struggles are never meant to be born by us alone. Christ has filled us with His Holy Spirit and equipped us with the Church, His hands and feet on this earth, to be strengthened and supported. I hope that as you build your deep community, your tribe, that you are able to find strength, wisdom, and beauty in diversity.