Reclaiming Our Spiritual Mothers and Daughters
Our Voice of Courage vision is: “To ignite a multigenerational movement of women leaders who hear God, speak courageously, and thereby bring justice, collaboration, hope, and beauty to their city, region, and world.”
We know Jesus planted the word multigenerational in our hearts on purpose. We long to see women link arms with one another, bridging generational divides.
The Covenant Community
I love how the Gospel shakes up the normal order of society, breathing community and connection into isolation, expanding our hearts and minds beyond limited perspectives on the possibility of relationships.
Whether we are surrounded by blood relations or not, God enjoys opening our eyes to the adopted children, parents, and grandparents around us.
We see this illustrated in the gospel of John. As Jesus is on the cross, he looks at his mother, Mary, and his beloved friend, John, saying, “Woman, here is your son,” and to John: “Here is your mother” (John 19:26).
Throughout scripture, across history, and in the world today, God often generously places us in surrogate families, in communities multilayered with mentors and mentees several generations deep.
The church, God’s covenant community, is referred to as the family of God. His people are a model for the cross-generational relationships and closeness God wants for the human race. He considers us extended family, a family whose members teach each other, sacrifice for one another , and enjoy God’s precious gift of belonging:
“So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.”
Ephesians 2:19 (NLT)
How do you reflect the generationally rich family of God in your relationships?
Where do you glean from older women who have gone before you or raise up younger women and girls in their gifts and calling?
Building Multigenerational Relationships
I feel the exhilaration of heaven touching earth when I glimpse God’s plan for multigenerational mentorship and relationships. As a former resident director for a Christian university, I got a taste of a spiritual extended family as several mom-aged professors, staff, and staff wives participated in a healthy relationships event each February.
The college girls in our dorm would personally invite women they admired. Those women, in turn, would share a brunch with the girls and answer questions the girls had about healthy relationships of all kinds. The wisdom and vulnerability shared in that room were deeply satisfying, grounding, refreshing, and safe.
It was a sacred space for growth, and the relationships established in that time rippled forward as the college girls sought out further mentorship from the women they had come to trust.
Multigenerational relationships always seem to catch me by surprise and work their way under my protective shell because they come in a unique, non-competitive offer of a childlike spirit from little ones or in a word of wisdom from a woman who has gone before me.
These generationally rich and diverse relationships allow me to reach forward and remember my roots. To take the important things seriously and to take myself a little less seriously.
In Nobody’s Cuter Than You, a book I could not put down, Melanie Shankle shares this kind of celebratory view of lessons gained from older generations and a commitment to leave a legacy in the lives of younger women who follow in our tracks.
In speaking of her best friend from college, Melanie writes:
“We both learned how to be a friend by watching the women who came before us. Women who taught us that it’s okay to show someone who you really are—that when you stop hiding behind a mask of perfection and protection, you unlock something beautiful…These are the lessons we need to instill in the young women who are coming behind us, because there are few things in life worth having as much as a few close friends and it’s worth trading popularity for authenticity.”
Melanie highlights one of the most beautiful things about multigenerational relationships: we glean from these bonds a view of what matters most and we pass on that wisdom to those we mentor. What a priceless treasure and source of continual renewal we can draw from and pour into others. What an exquisite glimpse of the kingdom.
May Voice of Courage and your leadership context create spaces to celebrate God’s image in women of every generation. May we honor the greatness and strength of women of all ages. We need each other. Something beautiful happens in the family of God and in the world around us when we make room for one another.
How will you make room this week?
1. Peters, R. E. (2007). Urban ministry: An introduction. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
I love this, Sarah. You’re both my real daughter and spiritual daughter, and your devotion to knowing God more deeply and the ways you actively pursue serving your family and community always inspires me. On top of all of that, I so enjoy our multigenerational relationship, friendship, and partnership!
Thank you, Mom! You have always been one of my greatest cheerleaders and wise counselors. I love watching you honor the wisdom and value of the special women in your life, women from every generation! Thank you for modeling this for me!