An Open Letter to an Older Woman
Dear Friend, I saw you at our ladies’ Bible study the other day and wanted to let you know how much it meant to me that you were there. I know you have family members to care for and it isn’t always easy to come, so it really encouraged me that you made the effort and considered gathering with the women in our church a priority for your life.
I’m beginning to see just a glimpse of how hard it is to grow older in the church. Everywhere you look, younger people are taking on leadership positions. The music is changing, the Bible studies are taught by younger women, and even the books and articles you see online or in magazines are by younger people. You see words like “fresh,” “new,” and “young.” Maybe you wonder if there’s even still a place for you in all of this.
So I wanted to take this chance to let you know how much I love you and how much the church needs you. Maybe you think we younger women are not teachable. Maybe you’ve tried to be a Titus 2 woman and have just been ignored. Maybe you feel you’ve been burnt by women who, even unintentionally, refused your wisdom or help.
Please don’t give up on us. We may not always realize it, but we do need you. I can only speak for myself here, so that’s what I’ll do.
At the ripe old age of 30, I look back on my twenties and see how far I’ve come. It’s hard to believe how foolish I used to be. I see now how faithful God has been and how He’s carried me through trials. When I spend time with college students or first-time moms, I want to spare them the pain I experienced. I want to protect them from repeating my mistakes. And yet, I know God graciously used these things to grow me.
Maybe you look at me and see the same thing. But you don’t say it, and that means a lot to me. I want you to know how it encourages me to hear you talk of God’s faithfulness. You have experienced pain and suffering I cannot comprehend, and yet you walk in peace and reliance on Him. You have a perspective I need to hear, but you give it with such grace and love, never judgment or condescension, which I know is hard when you’re seeing right through my over-confident exterior.
Maybe it’s hard to hear a 30-year-old teaching you or leading your small group. Or perhaps you’re frustrated when you see yet another article about being a young mother, written by a young mother. You were told to be a “Titus 2 Woman,” but no one seems to want your wisdom or training.
But I want you to know, you are training me, even if you don’t see it. Here’s what I’ve noticed about you:
- You Are a Teacher—You may not be teaching me practical ways to raise my kids or cook for my husband, but you’re teaching me what is far more important. You’ve realized the joy in being Mary, rather than Martha. You don’t have to tell me to study the Word, because your example says it all. You know the Word not because you want to rattle off Scripture to impress people, but because you have to know it. God’s Word has carried you through unspeakable pain. You have drunk of its refreshing truth, and now it just spills out of you with joy.
- You Are a Leader—You may not be on the women’s committee and you may not have time to be a small group leader, but you are most definitely leading. I look to you frequently, waiting to hear what you’ll say before I speak. I admit I don’t do this often enough. I’ve noticed how you quickly remind me of the main thing. You point to God’s love for me in Christ, bringing me back to fundamental truth when I so easily get sidetracked by secondary issues. You have the wisdom of seeing things from a bird’s eye view, while I zero in on one thing and obsess over it. You lead me by your example.
So if it’s not too much to ask, please keep coming. Maybe sometime we can get coffee and I can find out more about your life and God’s work in your heart. I can be honest with you, because you’ve showed me by your gracious example that I shouldn’t be enslaved to your opinion of me. So I know you won’t place requirements on me in order to spend time with you. Your love for me flows out of God’s love for you in Christ. Your acceptance of me flows out of God’s acceptance of you because of Christ’s righteousness. You know these things motivate me far more than any checklist or schedule ever could.
Your example is that of the apostles in I Thessalonians 2:6-8:
Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
So finally, please pray for me. I’m frequently brash and headstrong and far too focused on myself. I may not value you as I should. But I and so many other younger people in the church look up to and have learned so much from you. It would mean so much to know you’re praying for me. And please give me opportunities to pray for you as well. I love you, my sister and my friend. I want to serve you. Please forgive me for overlooking you in the past.
I look forward to seeing you next week.