I can honestly say that within the last few weeks, my husband and I have been truly blessed by individuals who have expressed their appreciation for the “gray hairs” and the wealth of wisdom and experience that one accumulates that life’s journey has afforded us. This wonderful affirmation has come from those with whom we have served in areas of ministry as well as others who have been observing from a distance. Sometimes it comes from individuals I meet for the very first time. We have had some who have informed us that they are drawing closer to us on purpose and they just thought they should let us know! They are seemingly just coming out of nowhere – BUT we are finding that they have actually been observing and gleaning for a while. God is using all of them to encourage us to continue age gracefully and to embrace this season we are in with joy, dignity, and purpose.
This morning I was reflecting and thanking God for the relationships and opportunities that allow us to thrive and to feel unconditional love and acceptance. This serves to remind us that we do indeed still have purpose and that we can continue to help others by drawing from our own experiences and encounters. God continues to sustain, develop, prune, and mature us and that gives use so much that we can share with others. The love that has been shown towards us lately is a bit overwhelming. It is wonderful to love and be loved. Walking in freedom in the lane to which we are assigned is amazing. We wear our “gray crown” with a willingness to be a source of encouragement, strength, love, and of course, a neverending supply of hugs and pats on the back to any and all who need it. The fact that there are those who desire to walk with us, inviting us to walk alongside them as elder voices in their lives is giving us life! God is SO faithful!
I have always looked to my elders for strength, wisdom, inspiration, and guidance. I cannot help but smile when I think of those who poured into me over the years, many of whom are no longer with us. I treasure those who are still here from whom I can glean the encouragement and wisdom that I need. It may seem that in today’s society that acknowledgement of and appreciation of elders is a lost trait among younger generations. I can tell you that from where I sit, there are many out there who really would like to know that we “care enough to care” and show concern for what they are facing and are willing to help them with what life may bring their way. We must be careful that our stance, our posture, and our attitude send the right message. We must extend “open arms and a welcome mat” and it should be communicated by the way we carry ourselves and how we interact with them. All too often those who are younger have experienced bumps, bruises, rejection, and judgment which hinder them from reaching out or stepping forward to possibly connect. We can offset the negativity by being a willing vessel through which God can love them.
I will continue to thank God for my journey. The ups and downs, the hills and valleys, the highlights and the disappointments – all served (and continue to serve) a purpose. I can honestly let others know that they, too, can come through with more hope and determination than ever. I can let them know that the journey is not just about them as I share the nuggets that I have gathered from both the highs and the lows. And I can demonstrate how to fully embrace each season with gratitude and the willingness to reach out and walk with others who may be in a different season so everyone can learn and grow together. I can encourage without words by giving the best hugs, often for no apparent reason, to help nudge them along on their journey. I have survived many seasons and that has brought me to my current season. Yes, I will continue to age gracefully and I will strive to be a reflection of God’s love, light, and comfort to those who invite me into their world. Anybody need a hug? This seasoned woman hands them out generously!