Perhaps, you don't desire to be a mother, grandparent, etc. to non-family around you, but before you hang up your hat on that, let me tell you how valuable you really are (not including how God sees you which you gotta ask him about that).
There are those of us that need, no-crave your wisdom, insight, affection, heck, even your attention. You possess a stability. Deep down, we know you didn't live the first 50 years without trials! Your strength from having made it through needs to be told. We need those stories of triumph and heartache to inspire and encourage us to keep going.
Most of you are parents and although we don't likely desire unsolicited advice on parenting, we still need your support, we desperately seek your understanding and yes, your free babysitting availability!
Some of us really love that you make getting older seem charming and less scary. When I look at how you handle gray hairs, a few extra pounds or pesky wrinkles-an awe escapes my lips and I breathe a bit easier. Getting old is not the end of life...
I've heard on more than one occasion from you,
"I loved turning 50. I felt like my life was truly beginning."
I don't know what that means so I need you to explain it. And if your life is truly beginning-does that mean you stop being engaged or involved with youth? With young adults or a 39 year old like me?
Please tell me the answer is no! We need you! We need you...to listen without judgement. To not talk down to us because we aren't where you are at and please don't dismiss us! Okay, some don't show you the respect you so deserve, but don't give up on us. We need your love.
Let me tell you how you impact the world with examples from my experiences...
1. She isn't my grandmother, but my Mamaw was her best friend. She is 80 something, her health is declining and yet, she still traveled out of state to come meet my children! The gesture alone...as I type this, tears are hanging in my eyes. (Love. Sacrifice).
2. She sees me differently than I thought. She has taught for 25+ years. An amazing, wise, now retired teacher. She told me, "You taught me so much." Huh? How could I teach her? She showed me ways to improve my teaching...surely not the other way around? (Encouragement. Humility).
3. They treated me like their grandchild. They paid for my college bill so I could get a Masters in Education. THEY loved me and even when they had cancer...they asked about me! She stroked my head and hand despite suffering. In pain, she wasn't just thinking about herself.
(Love, truly selfless love. Mercy. Generosity).
4. When my mother died, they swooped in with hugs, open ears and they came to her funeral. They barely knew her. They let me cry even if it made them uncomfortable. They have prayed over me and for me. She has spoken scripture to me more than once. They are there for birthdays and just because moments too. They are amazing in-laws and wonderful grandparents to my children.
(Hope, kindness, love, compassion, inspiration. Examples of godliness).
5. She is my best friend's mom, but she treats me like I am one of hers. She writes me letters. She tells me I am a good mom. She makes me laugh and she has seen me grow from an awkward middle- schooler to a woman. She loves me. (Acceptance, forgiveness, love and understanding).
6. My home wasn't always safe. Her home was. She offered it. She didn't ask for details or something in return...she just opened her door and heart. (Safety. Comfort. Refuge.).
Did you catch how prevalent love was in my experiences?
It is hard to put into words how much these people's actions both verbal or not have meant to me.
If you are 50 and older and reading this-get and stay involved. Know that what you are doing matters. Please serve. Whether that means doing something like vacation Bible school, or Sunday school, watching our kids for a day or more, caring for kids at MOPS, offering your home as a place of safety and refuge for those whose homes aren't safe and or simply just listening.
We need you...really we do!
Sharing this post over at Jen's wonderful blog, Soli De Gloria