Recently I was asked to be a part of the message for the Sisterhood Spring Brunch. The other speakers were my granddaughter, Cassidy and my daughter in law Holly. We were to speak on what each one of our generations are going through, what we have to offer and what we need from each other. I must say it was a little overwhelming following Cassidy, who is a worship leader, and Holly who is one of the best speakers ever. Especially since it has been at least 15 years since I have done any public speaking at all. But I muddled though:
What is it like to be the oldest in the family. What is it like to be a matriarch? Did I ever think I would be this old? Most of you know I now go to the gym and lift weights. Why? Well for one thing, my son owns a gym – and I have been told it will make me feel better. I would like feel as healthy as possible in my older years. But secretly you all gotta know that deep down in my flesh, I expect to start looking more and more like Jane Fonda instead of Maxine. Ha! Never gonna happen. How silly.
Being older – It is difficult sometimes to feel useful in your family, in your ministries and in society in general when you become older. My grandson Dillon and I had lunch not long ago and we were talking about feeling useful and listened to. We agreed that older people and young people like him have one huge thing in common. No one listens to us.
I have always tried to be this “hip” grandma, because I thought my grandkids would be more likely to want to be with me. It was a losing battle. Oh, when my older grandkids were little, I had no trouble being hip. My granddaughter Chelsie was always sleeping over and telling me all her trials and dreams, My grandson Dakota and I would play cribbage for hours. I worked with computers and kept up with most of the latest gadgets. But every year it got harder and harder to compete with and keep up with the electronic age and social media. So, although I have some knowledge of all of this, I really don’t even try. It’s a different world. Instead I try to learn from the younger generations and listen to them. And I have learned so much. I have learned volumes from my sons and from my daughter in laws. Dillon has taught me so much about the young people’s needs in the church and worship. Cassidy has shown me such maturity and insight into worship and her ideas of ministry. All of my grandkids have been such lights to me. And after hearing Cassidy speak, and after seeing what the younger people are willing to do with ministries, you gotta know that even though we hear all kinds of scary things that are happening in our world – it’s all gonna be okay. We are going to be just fine. How can we want to do anything but encourage them, give them some space and some leadership room. Let them step up to the plate.
I think the most important thing an older person can do in their families, in their churches, in their dealings with others is to listen. Most people don’t want advice, but they want someone they can trust to listen to them. In today’s world, no one has much time for listening. But we older people do……..so this becomes a huge gift that we have to offer. If you ask my advice or opinion about something, I will usually be happy to give it. But you need to ask. But I am always willing to listen.
I can remember when I was young I didn’t have a grandma I could talk to, and my mother was very reluctant to talk about anything personal or touchy. But I had an Auntie Mil.. She was my dad’s older sister and never married. A woman who was independent, self sufficient, a Christian, and who had a heart of gold. From the time I was very little all the way up to the day she died, she was the person whom I could talk to about anything. She was the best listener ever. She gave her opinion when I asked for it. I trusted her with my inner most problems and issues. She was always there. I would love to be like her in this respect.
So my needs as part of the older generation, are to be included whenever possible, not to be forgotten in your busy lives – be asked for my opinion when you really want it, and to be given grace when I can’t hear you very well – you know they say it is always safe to tell an old person something. They either can’t hear you or will forget it very quickly.
I can tell you that I feel this last 10 years have been the most beautiful years of my life. I have gotten to be close to at least one of my sons and his family and I have learned a little more about grace and love and peace every year I have been here. I no longer have the all of the pressure, anxieties and crazy busy stuff that I had when I was working – and if I do, it is of my own making. This alone can be a beautiful thing. And now more than ever before I can truly follow the verse “Abide in my and I will abide in you.”