Gray once again streaked a path through my dyed hair, leaving me sporting a look resembling a skunk. It had only been three weeks since my hairdressing appointment and I was losing the costly war of gray vs dye.
In a church where forty five years and under is the majority not looking old became an issue for me. Though not trying to look thirty five again, I most certainly wasn’t mentally ready to be considered an old lady.
Sweet Old Ladies
I remember the sweet old ladies of my youth, they attended church every week taking up residents in their usual pew and chatting with each other after the service. There was only one that I can recall who taught Sunday School, the others were content to socialize. This kind of old wasn’t, and isn’t for me.
I was mid fifties, the church was getting younger by the week. Questions arose in my mind. Where was my place in the sea of millennials that swirled around me? Was I still needed? Was I relevant? Was I fast becoming a pew warmer put out to pasture? Would they accept ministry from me, or brush me off as a has-been?
I donned skinny jeans and cute tops, especially tops that covered my relaxed muscle. I looked good; this aging woman didn’t look so old after all. Surely the younger women won’t view me as I had viewed the sweet old ladies of my youth?
Insecurity was never more prevalent than in the church restroom. Mirrors. Oh those mirrors. They show you the young twenty year old to your right and the mid-thirty year old to your left. There between them stands the fast approaching sixty year old with wrinkles she never noticed before.
Fear that I was no longer relevant quieted my voice
Lord, can you still use me? Do I have anything to offer the younger women? Do you find yourself asking the same or similar questions? Have you pondered where as a fifty plus woman you fit in today’s church? Have you like me modernized your look for fear of perceived rejection?
Yes we are still needed in the church, and will be until we take our last breath. Insecurity and comparison was killing ministry rising up in me. Perceived rejection held me back from freely loving and encouraging the younger women. Fear that I was no longer relevant quieted my voice.
The Church (Body of Christ) is made up of many parts, each of us having our own particular function (see Romans 12:4-8). Age does not discredit any one from ministering. Ministry is not confined to a particular demographic. Recently I saw a girl around twelve lead a congregation of adults in worship. I witnessed a twenty seven year old young woman speak at her forth event of her eight cities national speaking tour. Listened to a woman in her forties taking part in a podcast recording (in my home) talking about faith and courage. I know a lady in her fifties who is writing her second book. Women in their sixties who blog and minister in their local churches. Seventy year old’s who teach Bible study and women in their eighties who speak words of life and cover others in prayer. Age is not an issue.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1Thessalonians 5:11
Think Naomi and Ruth. Think Elizabeth and Mary. They spent time together each learning and investing in the other. It’s our turn to invest in the younger women in our churches. While they will benefit through words of wisdom from us; we too will learn from them.
I still dress fashionable, not because I’m insecure or fearful of rejection. Simply because there are plenty of age appropriate up-to-the-minute clothes available in the stores; no reason for me to look dowdy.
Stopping the madness of comparing myself to those younger than me released me to love the younger woman, to share freely with her without fear of rejection. To not see her as a threat, but as a sister-in-ministry, a sister-in-the-Lord. A beautiful thing happened when I embraced my age; not only did I embrace the younger women in church, but they also embraced me.
Embrace the season you are in whether you are turning fifty or ninety. As long as you are living you can be assured the Lord is not finished with you. There is ministry to be done, people to love and young women to come alongside as they grow in Christ and step into their calling.
Would love to hear from both older and younger women. What has helped or hindered you from ministering to each other’s generation? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Living Life Radiant in Christ
Photo Credits: Two Women Laughing; Sharon McCutcheon. Fine China; Anita Austvika. Both Unsplash.com