My parents tell me a lot of things I already know. Does this happen to you?
I was at my folk’s house when my married daughter called. When she hung up, I explained she was home with a fever.
My dad rose immediately and went to the counter where he keeps his medications. “Call her back and tell her she should take some ibuprofen. I have some right here you can bring her. Sylvia, where’s our thermometer? Does she have one?”
Mom responded in the same vein. “She should drink plenty of liquids and if it isn’t better, she should call the doctor for an antibiotic tomorrow.”
About that time, Dad set his faithful bottle of witch hazel onto the table beside me. “Tell her to rub down with this.”
“Whoa, Nellie!” I held up my hands. “Let’s recall the emergency response team. Can we remember that I’m in my fifties and fully experienced getting that grown child through plenty of fevers? I have heard of these items you’ve named – ibuprofen, you say? Thermometer? Yep, not new concepts. Not to mention that she’s a married adult, also well-versed in the treatment of minor ailments.
I, however, am guilty of pulling the same stunts on my children. When anticipating a major snow storm, I may have called both my grown children to instruct them on what they needed by way preparation. I also may have told them several times how important it would be to drive carefully. It was my twenty-eight-year old son who called me out.
“Wait, what? It’s a bad thing to drive eighty in a blizzard? Wow, Mom, thank you. You may have just saved my life because that’s exactly what I had planned.”
Fine. I’m guilty. I’m not too old to blame MY parents for setting that bad example.
The truth is that we never “catch up” with the people who raised us. We may become adults, but we’re never their peers. There’s always something new to discover and chances are, they’ve experienced it first.
And, I still need my mom and dad. Not in the same way from decade to decade, but I relish having a generation that’s older than I am. They are there for me in ways no one else ever has been or will be. I dread the days to come when they go before me to eternity.
And as competent as my adult children are, they still need me. When I see them, I see adults, but FIRST, I see MY CHILDREN as adults.
Recently, I listened to a gentleman talk about the strain of being in those decades when friends are failing and dying on a startlingly regular basis. He spoke of the stress of finding new physical limitations with each new year and of routinely seeing familiar faces in the obituary section. He wasn’t complaining, but simply describing the challenges of his age group.
That moment, it occurred to me that even though his parents are gone and can’t guide him, His Heavenly Father knows the way through this time, too. Suddenly, I realized that compared to our eternal God, even as we age, He still sees children! Even when we live into our nineties, we’re still new to this thing called “life” when compared to eternity.
Just as there are skills to learn from childhood to adulthood, there are competencies to be gained into our later years. Things like managing our emotions in a rapidly changing world, coping with loss, embracing new generations, and navigating new physical and mental challenges.
As aging Christians, we also are learning to communicate our faith across generations, to mentor younger “old” people on how to mentor others. We’re learning to remind the next generations of truth without getting stuck on old methods of accomplishing that truth, and to model grace and faith until the moment of our death.
We’re not even exempt from temptation in our later years. I have a widow friend who, in her seventies, was surprised to have to be dealing, AGAIN, with how to conduct her dating life and romantic relationships. It made me think it would make sense to team teens with senior citizens since they’re making their way through similar waters!
But, we have a lot of spiritual ground to defend against temptation, too. Self-pity, bitterness, resentment, fear, anger, apathy, and envy are still enemies we battle, even as octogenarian warriors. We’re still teaching the generation behind us how to score defeats against the darkness. We still have every opportunity to be light. As Paul knew, there’s value in sticking with the race to the very finish.
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8
We never outgrow our need for parents. Christians know we still have One even if we live over a hundred years.
Psalm 71:17-18 says this, “O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”
We are His children, forever. Wondering how to navigate your senior years? He knows the way.
You want to be effective in your faith. You want to grow up in Christ and defeat the giants in your life. You’ll want to read my latest book, Jesus and the Beanstalk (Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life).
— Lori Roeleveld (@lorisroeleveld) April 5, 2017