Dear Young Woman Who Thinks I Am Old

Dear Younger Woman,

I can tell you think I’m old.

It’s the surprise you express when I understand your cultural references or recognize that band you love.

It’s the shock you don’t even try to hide when I mention activities I enjoy like hiking or karate or romance. As if you think I worry about breaking a hip.

It’s the snicker you stifle when I talk about wanting to see the latest Marvel release.

I can tell you think I’m old. The look in your eye is what motivated me to call my friend and remark about having become “one of the gray hairs” in the body of Christ. I didn’t see it coming, but here it is and there you are, thinking it’s time for me to sit back and let you assume the mantle of all active ministry.

And, you’re half right.

Because here you are, and what amazes me most is how clearly I remember standing where you stand.

Back when I thought I discovered Jesus.

Back when I believed no one could possibly love Him as much as I or worship Him with such full heart or speak clearer truth to a new generation.

Back when I believed every gray hair must somehow be stuck in the humdrum of tradition, in ways that should be retired, and in a season of spiritual life that’s a sort of foggy waiting room for Jesus.

There was so much about me back then that was right. My focus on Jesus. My love for His people. My passion for outreach and for serving the poor.

I prayed without prompting. I consumed His Word. I loved to be in His sanctuary and to hear His message preached. Worship was organic to my inner life with Jesus and I expressed it with abandon.

God’s Word seemed so clearly about my life.

But, there were also many things about me that needed to change. I was always in a hurry. The urgency felt biblical and sometimes it was, but often it was just my youth.

I didn’t listen well. 1 Timothy 4:12 was my guide verse and I took it as a direct message on my life. I believed James 1:19 was a good passage for older church-goers to heed.

I believed every dream I dreamed was from God and every urge to speak or act from the Holy Spirit. Anyone who suggested otherwise was suspect, threatened perhaps, by how well I heard from God, wistful maybe, for days past when God once spoke to them.

Yeah, you can see what a project Jesus had in me, even though I deeply, truly, passionately followed Him. So many lessons He’s taught me through waiting, suffering, broken dreams, repentance, forgiveness, missions and mishaps.

And now, here I am. Old.

And I see you, young. But, what I see better than you do, is that we are the same.

My soul is alive within me, more alive even than when I loved Christ in my youth. For now, it streams from a faith that has been dashed and tossed and almost lost and rediscovered, revived, restored, and reclaimed a dozen times over through trials, tests, and tribulations of every form.

I love Him more now, yes more, and deeper because I’ve run out of my own love for Him and run to Him for His love to offer back.

I’ve loved Him through every season, beyond reason, under the weather, under fire, underwhelmed, and overtired, after triumph and after failure, through every gain and overwhelming pain. It’s been refined until it shines with the heat of embers that last longer than the initial flame.

I feel an urgency, too. We can anticipate His coming for me long before He returns for you, and there’s so much I still want to do for Him and with Him and about Him.

And I’m better at listening, but I still strain against my own desire to speak, to share, to convey all He’s taught me in so many ways, even knowing you’ll have to learn much of it the hard way, like I did. Soon enough the knees of your soul will feel the scrapes and burns of the inevitable fall that comes from running past the reach of your own maturity and faith.

He’ll catch you. And we old ones, we’ll be here for you, too.

Of course, there’s room for you. For your ideas, your voice, your vision, and your ways. I’ll resist the urge to say “that’s not the way it’s ever been done” long enough to hear you out. You see, we’ve prayed for you to know Jesus and we rejoice that you do!

But, I’ll also explain that some traditions bind us across generations and it’s God’s will to serve and reach those who are old as surely as He wants to reach the young. This is my family, too, my home, and my generation is still seeking, so my voice has a place.

The story He’s telling through my life isn’t over until He calls me home and I won’t miss a moment of it. I want to be right where He is, just like you do.

But don’t worry, I won’t push. I’ve walked with Jesus long enough to know He’ll make room for me where He will.

The power of Jesus Christ is made manifest when you and I maintain unity in Him. When we see one another through His eyes and we’re no longer an old one and a young one, but followers together. In celebrating each other, we testify to the world that Jesus reigns, that love wins, and that truth is the surest foundation for every generations’ dreamers.

I can tell you think I’m old. And so I am, to this life.

But like you, I am now eternal and in this way, like you, my life has only just begun. Let us follow Him together, child, you and I, for we will be following Him forever.

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    The Conversation

  1. Jan Clough says:

    You have a gift of expressing all we feel on many many subjects and this is no exception.
    Thank you Lori this was both refreshing and moving.

    God bless you
    Jan Clough

  2. So beautiful as usual.

  3. Terrie says:

    Loved this….I can so, so identify! I too am old! 🙂 Thank you for putting into words many of my own thoughts. Keep writing and sharing!

  4. Lori,

    Fantastic post. I can relate!

  5. Julie Sherar says:

    This is exactly what I’ve been wanting to say. I go to a church with a lot of younger women. Sometimes I feel like I have a sign on my forehead that says “ignore me”.
    I realize that i am not instantly granted authority just because I am an older women. It is certainly more about me reaching out to them than them pursuing me. I am beginning to have some small success and it is so worth the effort. I am also part of a jail ministry. Very amazing. So much need!

  6. Leslie Carnes says:

    What a lovely post! As I was reading I recognized truth, for both the young woman and the “old”. The only thing I wanted to add to the mix was a recent epiphany. I was lamenting getting old(er!) with all the accompanying aches & pains and such and was comforted by the thought that only my body was getting older. But the me, the real me, who I am inside is eternal! What a glorious thought – the best is yet to come! And lo and behold, I just had to read further to find that you had found that same glorious thought and improved upon it. We are eternal together! Thanks for your insights, Lori. Keep ’em coming 🙂

  7. Phil Disney says:

    This is the first time that I am old. I’ll be 71 next week, and really do not know what to expect of me. Your message is on target for guys too. I notice things. I notice how the young folks get quiet when I attempt to enter their conversation. It takes effort to enter any conversation, but the impatience of the young is a dead give away. I will not give up, and I will encourage younger folks with whatever means I can pray together. We will be spending eternity together and we might as well get used to it.