The Information Swamp

Information swampNone of my grandparents are living, and I regret that I didn’t have closer relationships with them. I don’t remember hearing their stories about growing up, getting married, what it meant to be a mother in the thirties, forties, fifties.

My parents are alive, and I know more of their tales. My dad is in his mid-seventies, and I’ve heard stories of killing chickens for dinner, his old dog, his life in another era, another time. Being a storyteller myself, I love stories.

I am now in a place where, biblically, I’m the older woman. Titus 2 tells older women to help the younger ones love their husbands and children. These older women, like all of the people in Titus’ church, likely were new believers. They might have raised their children while following pagan gods. They got married in societies with no godliness. And yet, Paul says their current love for God, along with the experience of age, makes them valuable mentors.

Flash forward.

A few years ago, a group of experienced moms and I held a luncheon for pregnant moms in my church. Between us, we moms had well over fifty years of parenting experience. Probably closer to a hundred. We’d seen it all. We asked the moms-to-be if they had questions for us, if they wanted to talk about anything. Their answer? Please recommend some good parenting books for us.

Ouch.

Information. It’s the god of our generation. Everyone has internet access at their fingertips all the time. People, especially young people, are swamped with information. And it looks pretty, written by people with lots of letters behind their names. Experts. We are also a generation that worships expertise. Expertise on the internet–even better. It’s impersonal, never corrects us, and lets us feel like experts ourselves. And it feels like a guarantee. Follow the experts and the result will always be a happy, adjusted, perfect life.

But what about wisdom? I’m pretty savvy with the internet. I can find the same information. But I process it differently. I have experience. Many years of life experience. When I see new information, I weigh it against the experience, fit it into different grooves, discard more of it, treasure it differently.

Having been a parent for more than a quarter century, I can safely say parenting and even marriage advice swings on a pendulum. Wide swings. Every five years or so a new expert applies a new twist to parenting, and the pendulum goes. Let a child console himself sometimes becomes entertain a child every second. Demand obedience becomes never wound a child with a harsh word. And then back again. It swings, and young parents swing along. And I want to say something. I want to help the struggling parent who finds the edges of the pendulum hard to navigate. I want to share my experience so they can settle closer to the middle, balanced and less nauseous from the wild ride.

But I pale compared to the bright, shining information on the internet and in books. I’m a relic. Old fashioned ideas. Not an expert. I might ruin a child because I don’t know the new rules. I haven’t read today’s shiny expert.

It’s hard to be a Titus 2 woman in an information swamp. I sink and slog around in the mush, and I don’t know how to be useful. And I watch others sink and slog, too, and I feel so powerless to help.

Maybe we can take hands and form a chain. It would mean all of us giving up the desire to do it alone, going solo with the information out there on screens. It means sometimes admitting we did things wrong–or are doing things wrong–because life isn’t foolproof. Nobody has all the answers. That’s what mentoring is about. It’s truly a two-way street.

I’m willing to extend my hand. I’ve been there. But I haven’t read the latest books. I don’t know the newest terms. I won’t recommend the best experts. All I can offer is what I know, both victories and failures. I can process new information through a different perspective. I’d love for younger women to take me up on it, knowing sometimes I have failed. They will fail. All of us fail. I would love to be part of a chain of people dragging through the swamps to the higher, drier ground. And I still latch on to older hands, because I’m not done yet, either. The chain goes on.

When God led Paul to write Titus 2, I doubt he made a mistake. I ache to be valued because of the things I’ve seen and heard and learned along the way. My hand is out there. Wherever you are, there are probably old hands who would grab you, too. Latch on. Some truths and wisdom are timeless, and I think God wants us to keep it and pass it down. If he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have put Titus 2 in that big old book of his.

 

 

 

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