Here I am, a senior citizen—do you know what that means? It means I was once young. There is often talk about bridging the generations, but when you are my age, you do that within your own skin. Whether we are young, middle-aged or elderly, we all share a common source and a common destiny: our Eternal Creator and His eternal Kingdom.
As women of God, we are all potential “firstfruits,” but individually we are all so very different, with various heritages, experience and different daily activities. As women, our gender both binds and frees us to function within the unique framework of femininity. My situation in this period of my life is one of advanced age, beyond caring for a husband and young children. But I am betrothed to another who will be my Husband—One we all share. And I also have many children of different ages within the Church. I happily anticipate the birth of others, and I hope their mothers will think to bring their babes near me to see them on their first time out in the world.
I hate to admit what is obvious to all those around me, but it has become downright hard for me to get around at this point in my life. My legs no longer function in the way they once did. Still, I am grateful that our Father sustains my life. Life is still sweet and I have opportunity to learn, and to do those things, that are pleasing to Him. As His Word tells us in John 13:17 John 13:17If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.
American King James Version×, “Happy are you if you do them.”
Meeting the needs of others
Perhaps I will be with you next year, but one day I will not be here with you. I hope to leave feeling confident that you will continue to love and help one another, to guide and protect one another. I hope you will sustain others and address their needs when you are asked to help. A need of my own, which I am addressing at this stage in my life, is to read what comes to my mind. With prayer over each paragraph, I read; and with frequent re-reading, I have progressed thus far. I have written out what I would like to tell each of you face-to-face, and plotted out on paper what I fear could be totally lost. What shall I say? What can I say to reach you? It strikes me that to be old is my best service to everyone who knows me. I am one of the “widows” the Church needs. They permit others to have opportunity to express care for those whom our Father so plainly cares for. Blessed are those who greet, assist and cherish the widow.
I am also rather infirm. Blessed are those who hug me when my arms are occupied with my footing, who clear my path, who greet me as I maneuver my way to my chosen seat in church or who on occasion have saved that very seat for me. I treasure those who honor my gray head with smiles of greeting, who give me kisses expressing pleasure in seeing me again, or who toss off a wave acknowledging that I am once again among them. Thanks to those who show me affection and respect when services are over and once again we depart out into the world, (or as much of that world as we carefully inhabit.) Thank you all for your love—to do so is my privilege. And my gratitude will bring its own blessing to me, so I thank you once again.
It strikes me that I should acknowledge the blessings I have received from others in my congregation other than women—their spouses and sons, who are our brothers. I offer a heartfelt thanks to all of these men in my life. The gift Our loving and generous Father gives us so much more than the widow and the infirm for whom to love and provide care. He gives us all each other in a spiritual sense. This is the gift of godly friendship, and there are yet needs in the physical realm that can sadden the heart or gladden it when those needs are met. The gifts of concern, encouragement, conversation and companionship all benefit the physical and the spiritual. Transportation to services is a physical act of great spiritual value. I have benefited by such service for many years of my life. My gratitude must also be extended for the many months a dear sister brought me sermon tapes on a weekly basis, sustaining me through a difficult time when I could not attend services. I will never be able to repay in kind, as I do not drive. My husband once tried to teach me, but I found controlling a car interfered with my being able to window shop!
There are opportunities we miss and opportunities we intentionally pass on. There are many such things that can be done for one another. Taking the time Some ladies I know tell me they seldom get cards or telephone calls. How much more delighted they would be by an offer to take them marketing or clothes shopping on occasion. Another well-loved woman I know has frequently invited members from church to her home, but was told it was just too far away. Hope deferred finally gives up. How many invitations can be refused before no more are extended? Striking while the iron is hot is a good way for “iron to sharpen iron.” What would you like to do some afternoon or some evening? Skipping over the “dearly beloved” or “best friend” that you regularly socialize with, inviting someone you generally just casually greet or converse with would be a wonderful gesture. Keep in mind any reasons why your invitation is not accepted so that such objections can be worked around another time. Finally, be grateful to the person who accepts one of your invitations, and just have a good time!
As a senior, I am at one end of the bridge, and there are also others who stand by me, other widows. There are widows in deed and widows by circumstances. I should like to point out that there are younger women, with or without children, who can also benefit by efforts to broaden and deepen relationships with one another. They are often just as much in need of contact beyond church services, as are any of us “old gray heads.” Let all of us grow closer as we bridge the generations with our friendship.