You know what’s weird? It’s weird that in the age of social media we know so much about people but yet we don’t know people. We don’t spend actual time with them. We know where they went on vacation and even get to look into their family scrapbook. We see what they made for dinner, what their kids did at school, what their favorite outfit is or where they spent their weekend. But, do we actually know them?
Is it ever weird for you to know so much about someone that when you see them in person its almost awkward? Maybe that’s just me. I think we all have a desire to know others and to be known. Not in a shallow way though…. in depth. To know the heart.
I have been on a bit of a quest lately. I want to find out how to best connect younger women and older women. We know the Bible tells us in Titus 2 that this relationship is important. When I ask older women if the mentoring and discipling of young women is important, they answer a definitive, “Yes”. When I ask them if they have someone that they mentor, the often answer, “No, I don’t know anyone who wants to be.” When I ask younger women if they desire a Titus 2 type relationship with older women in their lives they answer “Yes. I wish I could find someone for that.”
So how is it that we are not connecting? And what would mentoring and discipleship look like if we did connect?
After talking to older women, it seems that they feel they don’t know where or how to start. It’s just plain logistics. The generations do have unique styles of communication these days. Many of the older women would prefer to call, visit or send a note in the mail. While younger women may communicate through text, instagram or facebook. It is worth the time to learn something new to build intergenerational relationships. Seniors are often honored to join social media so that they can stay connected to those they have watched grow up. But they feel insecure in navigating it alone. Make a date with a Gramma or an Aunt to help them set up an account and show them how to find you! While you are setting them up, maybe you can enjoy a meal together or go to a park.
There is another reason that the older women reaching out to younger ones is hard. Some feel that their own marriage or parenting was imperfect and thus, their insight is not valuable. This is not at all the case! In fact, don’t we glean life lessons from women in the Bible even though they had flaws? Eve kicked off the show with a doozy, her life choices ripple through the ages. Sarah, though believing God, took actions to increase her family that later she regretted. And though Rahab made a less than reputable career choice, she turned her life around and was instrumental in God’s plan to prosper Israel. We can learn from each one. God uses flawed individuals. Scratch that. God always uses flawed individuals (Rom 3:23). From our perspective the blemishes that we carry in our own lives are intimidating and perhaps prevent us from being vulnerable, but through the lens of Christ, God sees us as blameless. Though a younger woman may see the older as confident and bold, they are likely a bit nervous and would love to be greeted and invited to share in your lives.
Younger women have so much to share and are a renewing to the older women. You bring us memories, perspective and keep us in step with what is going on with the world. You bring us joy as we see you grow in your walk with the Lord and the relationships in your family. We learn more about God and about life when we spend time with multi generations. There are studies about the health benefits of cross generational friendships. God sure knew what He was doing when He set up this model! I know that here in my “middle aged” years, I have older women that teach me. Yet, the relationships with younger women also sharpen me. We need each other.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
I was talking to a mom named Naomi the other night. She told me how a group of older women reached out to her as a young military wife, far away from family. Six women in her church individually invited six younger women to gather for an evening of cooking and fellowship. Once a month the older women got together early in the day. They made a meal and stuck it in the oven to cook. When the young women arrived, they set up a cooking demonstration and taught the younger ladies how to make the meal. When the demonstration was over, they pulled the baked dish out of the oven (like a little cooking show!) and enjoyed it together while visiting and getting to know one another. Through a year of gathering in this way, the women created connections that still exist years later. Isn’t that a great idea!!!
I wonder if we all could be brave and take the next step. It doesn’t matter if you are older or younger… if you “feel” older or younger. Let’s not declare it the responsibility of one group or the other to initiate. Let’s just do it. Who do you bump into at church as you are heading to your seat? Maybe someone you have always exchanged smiles with but never really knew. Who do you know or interact with online that you don’t interact with in real life? Usually there is no reason why you wouldn’t visit with them in person, you just haven’t been intentional about it yet. If your online friends also live close enough to you, maybe it is time to send them a message and set a date for coffee or an evening walk. The relationship starts with an invitation.
As we take the first step and get to know one another, more opportunities will come to interact and the relationships you have online or in passing will grow deeper and have more meaning. Once we get the ball rolling, opportunities to share our lives are more likely to happen. Let’s be intentional. Who will you call this week and get to know a little better? Be listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit as He may be bringing someone to mind that needs to hear from you. Make the call, send a text, or even pop a letter in the mail. There’s no wrong way to do it. Just get it done!
If you step out this week and make a new connection with another woman, older or younger, send me a note. I would love to hear how connections are being made among us!