“As an older Godly woman, what advice do you have for us?”
It took me a minute to realize they were talking to me. I was eating breakfast with four young women from our church before attending the first day of The Gospel Coalition Women’s conference last week when one of them posed the question. Not loving the “older” part of the question, while simultaneously cherishing the “Godly” part, I wasn’t sure which description caught me off guard most.
Yes, I am older than them, by many years, and even though being older is not how I like to describe myself, it is true. My mind raced for a few seconds. I suddenly thought I should find something else to do, something important like checking Facebook, because I was pretty sure the “Godly” part did not apply to me.
There was no escaping, though. They looked at me with a sweet expectation that I somehow knew something they did not.
The mirror that so honestly details the wrinkles tells me I should know a few things. Maybe being the mother of five and my new status as grandmother serve as some credentials, but oh the parenting mistakes I made, and still make! The sins I struggle with day in and day out quickly paraded through my head.
If only they really knew me, they would not be asking me for advice.
Nope. I am not qualified, I decided.
One of these precious women worked for me as a nanny in the past, practically living with me day in and day out, a direct eye witness to all my failings. She should tell them I am not qualified; she knows me well.
The great irony I could not escape, though, was realizing she was the very one who posed the question.
Without a doubt, there are many better role models out there, but on that day, in that moment, I was all they had and I hadn’t even finished my first cup of coffee of the day.
Where do you begin when eight wide eyes are looking at you waiting for precious jewels of wisdom? I did the only thing I knew to do—I looked down at my eggs, took a deep breath and prayed frantically that I would not mess this up.
I can’t remember exactly what I said. Something about cherishing our place in God’s redemptive mission, being open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, staying in the Word and before I knew it, breakfast was over and they headed out to hear the likes of Tim and Kathy Keller.
They were asking me for advice when Kathy Keller is in the building? The second great irony of the morning.
I don’t know if anything I said resonated with them, but that precious mentoring moment at breakfast has stayed with me. As inept as I may have been in the moment, sabotaged off guard with their question (and before coffee even), I do cherish that time. I left feeling the important responsibility we older women have been given to share Godly wisdom and advice to younger women who desire to follow Christ and live their lives in His service.
If they are asking, they surely want to hear and I suspect that many of those who aren’t asking want to hear as well.
They probably won’t have Kathy Keller to go to everyday, but they have me and they have you, with all of our imperfections and failures, and just maybe they need to hear about those. Maybe they need to see how God works in our rejoicing and our lamenting, watching us live out our lives as a part of the body of Christ.
If they are asking, we need to be answering. If they are not asking, we should be seeking them out and forming relationships as God puts them in our path. Women, if we don’t invest in this next generation by sharing our lives and words of encouragement rooted in Christ, who will?
There are many voices out there. To whom will they listen, if not to us?
I loved hanging out with these younger women at the conference. I learned that there are some pretty cool benefits for us older women when we are with younger ones. It’s not a one way street, this mentoring relationship. They could actually see the tiny print on my schedule to tell me what workshop to go to next without me having to dig out my reading glasses. They saved me seats among the mad dash of women trying to get as close to Kathy Keller as possible when the conference doors opened. We laughed over dinner together, delved deep into 1 Peter together, and they loved me, regardless of my age, and they loved me well. Maybe being the older woman in the crowd isn’t as bad as I once thought.