Allow me to take you back to a spring in my childhood—a day when the breeze still had that crisp freshness of past winter days, but the sun warmed it with a smile. Pollen coated everything in sight, and whenever the breeze really worked itself into a fuss, small clouds of yellow drifted by.
There I sat, eight years old hiding beneath some azalea bushes, the pink flowers just budding into existence. As idyllic as it sounds, I didn’t think so. I was waiting to be found—I could even see my older brother as he passed by the bushes in search of one of his younger sisters. Mom had told us to “stay out in the yard” and Hide-and-Seek had seemed as good a game as any to pass the time. He walked by without spotting me. I exhaled, and returned to idly braiding fallen pine needles together—he wouldn’t be back for a while.
My childhood patience was short lived and before too long the thoughts began to creep into my mind. I could no longer hear my brother’s voice, a moment ago he had found my other sisters but were they were still searching for me? Had they left? Gone back inside? Were they playing something else? Was I missing out?
I needn’t have worried too long, for our black Labrador, Shadow, decided that since I was in such an accessible spot beneath an azalea bush I would be the perfect candidate to throw her ball. That disgusting, dirt-caked, grimy ball. If you have ever owned a Labrador retriever then you know what I’m talking about.
My hiding spot was soon found out due to Shadow’s brilliance, but I still remember those anxious thoughts while waiting. This wasn’t the only time it happened, I couldn’t tell you how many times while playing Hide-and-Seek I would suddenly find myself alone and the thought was “Now what?”
If you attended Women’s Spring Dinner, you might remember Jacqueline sharing some of Linda’s words about getting older. Everyone laughed when Jacqueline read the words, “You use moisturizer on everything all the time! Epsom salt is now your best friend.”
Now if you have met Linda, you will notice something about her almost immediately. She has one of the most joyful faces, and her laughter is contagious. She spreads joy where she goes, and yet she recently told me, “My life is really great, I’m healthy and happy, but I’m in a season of waiting. All throughout my life, there has been a next step. Whether it’s school, or graduation, marriage, kids, grandkids, retirement, and so on, but now it’s just a big question mark.”
It’s a “Now what?” kind of moment.
That is the question she is pressing on through. It isn’t a struggle that is overwhelming or even painful, but simply a wondering of what the Lord has in store.
Linda admits that throughout her life she has had both the good times and the bad, the ups and the downs, she has seen the world a certain way—through the eyes of her Creator, but somewhere along the way the world started seeing her differently. “You start noticing things are changing. You get tired more easily. There are aches and pains for no reason at all. The invitations stop coming. Cashiers call you “Honey” and your kids say you are “cute” You have been put in a category that is unfamiliar … Nothing prepares you for it. You’re old.”
And with this new category come a lot of questions, which a lot of times go unanswered.
What if we move closer to the kids? But we can’t be close to all of them since they live in different places. And if we do move, will we get more time with the grandkids? Or will they be too busy? Will we be bothersome? Maybe I should volunteer at the hospital? Spend more time helping around the church? Where should I serve? Where can I help?
Am I still useful?
That last question is one I have heard from my own grandmother, not to mention a few of the mature ladies in our ministry. I remember when my grandmother first mentioned offhand how as she gets older, she is in a place where others allow her to do less, to offer less of herself. It made me stop and think for a moment. Sometimes the words of “I’ve got it” or “Here, let me do that” can be a sign of love and respect from someone younger. But I never thought of it the other way. Sometimes it can seem as though you are unable to help.
Linda says, “I don’t think of myself as old. I think of myself the same way I thought when I was a child. That’s the eternal spirit that’s inside each of us that never ages. In our inner-being, we’re always the same person.” That’s a powerful statement. What I should have said to my grandmother that day, and what I am saying to you now is you do have something to offer. I can’t even begin to tell you how many stories I tell that start with the phrase “Papa once was…” or “Nanna told me….” They have influenced my life greatly, showing me love, selflessness, and joy.
Maybe you are in a place where you feel as though you have been brushed aside because of your age. Or maybe you are in a stage of waiting—like Linda you’re wondering what’s next.
Well, there is something you should know. You are valuable. You are enough. And you do have something to offer. How else will my generation learn?
As Linda illustrated, we all tend to think of ourselves the same throughout life. Sure, we might hold weight differently now, our hair may have changed colors, our hands might not be as skilled as they used to be, but that doesn’t mean we have less to offer.
I used to be able to run for hours with my siblings without getting tired, to play outside until the sun went down and not even come in for water. Because I no longer do that, am I supposed to think I cannot offer joy to others? Or how about those jeans I wore in high school? Just because I can no longer fit into them doesn’t mean I don’t have purpose. The same girl who enjoyed making her family laugh at six years old still enjoys brightening another’s day twenty years later. The same Linda who has blessed others throughout her life is still bringing joy to those around her today.
That is usefulness, and it is powerful. Don’t ever count yourself short simply because of age. Instead, let that eternal spirit thrive! What you can do now in providing wisdom, encouragement and joy is far greater than when you first followed the Lord. Unlike other things in life, our grace and joy abound as we follow Christ and we cannot help but have it overflow.
Most of us have read Proverbs 31, and I don’t know about you, but I tend to think of this “alter-ego” woman. She is strong, confident, beautiful of course, and she has her life together. Not one hair out of place, she always looks perfect and her house is immaculate. But is that what it really says? Certainly, some of the verses speak of physical labor, but what about verse 30? “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” –Proverbs 31:30 (ESV)
By this, outward appearances shouldn’t matter. Your looks and your age don’t define you, what does is that eternal spirit living inside you.
So maybe you’re like Linda, in a time of waiting and wondering what’s next. Perhaps you’re at an age where you think you can no longer contribute. That’s a lie! For as Linda reminds us there are truths in the Bible and they aren’t defined by age, “They are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and we are to continue in them.”
Linda pointed to Psalm 92:12-15. Read the verses at the end of this blog and I think you will see you do have a purpose. You might be pressing on through a season of waiting—feeling like a child waiting to be found, wondering if everyone has forgotten about you. You might feel left out, not sure of whether or not you can join in or make yourself known.
But Psalm 92 tells us differently; it declares your purpose is still before you.
No matter where you go, what you do, or what age, you are a daughter of the King and you matter so much!
My prayer is that your joy would abound and your heart will be filled with knowing the Lord still has a purpose for you! Whether you are waiting or not, his purpose is true.
The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the Lord is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
–Psalm 92: 12-15 (ESV)
Women’s Ministry Assistant
©2018 Women of Warren, Warren Baptist Church