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The Older Woman

The young man prayed a blessing on our shared meal. “…and Lord, thank you for this old couple … er … I mean, older … thank you that they… um… let us hang out in their home.”

A group of fellow believers had gathered in my home for a time of fellowship and study. My DH and I are old enough to be grandparents for most of them.

I grinned, but stayed in prayer mode until the Amen. Where I grew up, when one person prays publicly, there isn’t a lot of chatter in the room. I still prefer that model. It’s an expression of respect for the person who may be just learning to pray.  I can agree quietly with the speaker’s thoughts expressed to the Lord.

As soon as he finished speaking, however, I leaned close to the young lady next to me and whispered “What did he say?” I tried to sound indignant, but wasn’t very convincing.

During the meal, I gently reminded the group, whoever cared to listen, that it is much more diplomatic to say “more mature,” than that 3-letter word I’ve been avoiding for so long: OLD.

So, how’s that working out? Not too well. Young habits are hard to break.

We should have seen it coming – the label “OLD.” It happens more and more frequently these days for me and my DH, the Teacher. For years we’ve been able to stay active with younger people, to blend in pretty well, to be involved with them. Now, the photos of grandchildren on the mantle speak of the years passing. A white streak stubbornly grows wider through my hair. My body has betrayed the secret by adjusting my shape. It’s not as easy to blend in these days, with my growing preference for earlier bed times.

Maybe the time has come to admit that I’m “more mature.” What does that mean, exactly?

We don’t feel old, most days, but we still appear old among our younger friends. It could be time to take on a new role in our community – that of the Older Woman.

There are rights and responsibilities to this role – it may take some time to grow into.

My rights as an older woman: …(treat) older women as mothers, and with all propriety, the younger women as sisters. (1 Timothy 5:2)

I deserve respect. Finally. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve worked for it; I deserve it. Don’t I?

Wait! There’s also the responsibility of the older woman:  they are commanded to have “lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior.” (Titus 2, The Message)

During our tenure in youth ministry, I once suggested in my most diplomatic voice that we are all going to be old one day. I still remember the name of the smart-mouthed kid who flippantly shot back, “Yeah, but you’re gonna get there first!”

Yes, I am. And I’m learning to like where God has placed me for this time in life.

Comments: How can we demonstrate respect for the more mature? What are some ways we can live out the responsibilities of the older / younger generation?

Leave a comment and enter a drawing for a free Kindle version of: The Beauty of Aging: Growing Older with Grace, Gratitude and Grit by Karen O’Connor. Winner will be chosen April 7. Beauty of Aging cover