I feel one special joy that comes with growing older (that I’ve thought about three or four times just this weekend).
Growing older means you get the joy of helping younger people grow into themselves. It’s happening more and more: I’ll be somewhere–a party, in my office, in my neighborhood, at church, anywhere–and younger people will ask for advice.
This month, I embrace this role like never before.
I’m at a party, for example, and a group of young women ask me all about how they can love a neighborhood one day. They talked about how comfortable they feel in their church groups and Bible studies, but they experience the nagging feeling that something isn’t exactly right.
“It’s so comfortable, but. . . “
“Yes,” I said. “It’s very comfortable, but it’s not exciting. I’d rather have exciting than comfortable, so go and love people that aren’t in your Bible study.” I spoke as a woman who has lived almost twice as long as they have and who still walks children to school every morning. I spoke as a woman who for years turned double-dutch jump ropes for Monday Night Neighborhood Fitness and who danced in my basement with children when it was too cold to meet outside. Why shrink back from my lived experience of loving a neighborhood? Why not tell people with a certain authority?
Then, I go home to emails from students needing advice and recommendations for graduate school. Right around this time (when applications are due), it happens: students become desperate for career direction. I find myself full of new energy as I pass on all I know. As I grow older, I feel decisive and confident. I feel like I can state things I’ve learned with a new clarity and love.
When scripture talks about the older women teaching the younger, I suddenly know like never before which category I’m in. I still need those older ladies around me, but this year, I find a whole group of younger folks who need someone to love them and help them become who they’re becoming.
I do like growing older. And I like considering (and asking you) how we might continue to pass on what we know and help younger people grow. In what form? Where? When? It’s exciting to pray towards this end.