I sat across from her desk while she expressed her frustration. She was missing something and her heart was breaking. As she talked, I realized I couldn't fix her problem. For a fixer, I was at a loss for words and eventually, her family found another church home.
She wanted relationships with older women.
The older women of our church had removed themselves and formed an exclusive Bible study just for them.
They were done "living it out." They had raised their kids, fought with their spouses, survived cancer, lost best friends, watched their children walk away, watched them return, saw the hand of God move, survived heartaches and overcame hardships...and they didn't want to talk about it anymore. They didn't want to talk about the small stuff. They wanted to talk about Jesus...and everything wrong with the church and everyone else.
They closed themselves away because they felt like they deserved it. They had run their race and they wanted to enjoy the fruit of their labor. ALONE.
In the meantime, the younger women were yearning for their wisdom and their truths. Many had either lost their own mothers or had moved miles away from home and they were missing something. They were missing someone.
I asked the leader of this exclusive Bible study group if they would consider joining the church studies. I told them how much the younger women wanted relationships with older, wiser women. They said "No."
Thankfully, God started adding older women to the church who didn't have that point of view and they started coming to the studies. When they told their stories...everyone listened. They cared for the younger women and mentored them in ways that only an experienced woman could. It was life changing.
Many are lonely.
Some feel disconnected.
Many believe they are not noticed.
Some feel unloved.
People are crying out for multi-generational relationships. To simplify it even more, people are looking to connect, to feel valued, and to be noticed. This isn't a church problem...it is a cultural one.
The hope found in our church families is often found in the relationships with people around us. As we share our struggles and our dreams, the people around us sharpen us, inspire us, and if needed...correct us. If any generation, young or old, separates themselves from the masses, we miss out on the fullness of what they offer.
Exclusive relationships isolate and limit our growth. God calls us to love people. He never said, "love only the people who are just like you."
One Sunday morning I noticed a group of young couples standing around a table in the cafe area. I needed to talk to one of them, so I decided to wait for their conversation to end. The thing is, their conversation never ended. Many people walked by them that morning...the young, the old, and the middle, but not one person in this young group noticed anyone around them. They stayed in their exclusive close circle, forgetting that the body of Christ is so much more than the people who are just like them.
When things like this happen, it isn't intentional. We see people we love and we walk to talk to them. We get in our groups and forget that God has called us to so much more. He has called us to love, but it isn't on our radar. We miss it. We miss the opportunity to connect with the generations around us. We miss the moments where we get to tell someone 40 years older than us that they are valued and appreciated.
My friend AJ often sits with my mom at church. He is young...and she is not (but she is still extremely cute). Do you know how often my mom mentions that he sits with her? EVERY TIME. She tells me how much she loves sitting next to him. It makes her feel valued. It makes her feel noticed.
We think it doesn't matter, but it does. Young, old, and somewhere in the middle...we can learn something from the people God has placed around us. We have to have eyes to see them. We have to have ears to hear their stories. We have to have the opportunity to speak encouraging sweet words to those around us.
Broken people are walking down the halls of our stores, schools, and churches. Hurting people are living in our neighborhoods and our communities. Lonely people are standing outside our circles waiting to be included...waiting to be seen.
When I look at the faces of my friends, both near and far, I see the span of generations. I have young friends I love and admire who are just starting their families. I have more mature friends who have raised their children and are enjoying their grandchildren and retirement. I need them all in my life. My younger friends keep me youthful and my older friends keep me grounded. The ones in the middle just make me laugh.
I read an article about Millennials (their label...not mine) and how the church needs to have strong young adult ministries in order to keep this generation connected. These groups are important. Our young adults need opportunities to be with people who are in similar places in their lives, BUT they also need the opportunity to grow alongside Baby Boomers and Gen Xers...who have been there and survived.
I don't want to miss out on what God has for me. I do love being around people. I am an extrovert by design and there isn't anything better than a good story that makes me feel. So for me, the perfect week includes a few good stories that either make me laugh or cry from a variety of sources and a variety of friends; friends from different generations...the young, the old, and the middle.
Living Completely Undone
I am a girl passionately in love with Jesus, my husband, and my children. I am forever learning how to live a life completely undone for my God. This blog is about my journey and a few funny stories in between.