It’s likely that some of my friends are growing tired of me recommending that “Aging With Grace,” book I read last year and enjoyed so much. It’s also likely I’m going to keep recommending it. And, I can’t tell you how many times since savoring those pages, I’ve sat down to write something new I’ve learned about being a mother-in-law, having grown and married sons, grandchildren, or another brand new daughter-in-law, or a myriad of other parenting nuggets of what sort of feels like it might be a little bit of wisdom. But then either my fingers rest on the keyboard and my mind goes blank or… (more often), I worry that I’ll sound like a know-it-all. And I really don’t want to sound like a know-it-all. Being a know-it-all is sooo unattractive.
Then today I was having a deep conversation with a close friend and was telling him about some of the parenting mistakes I’ve made, and the regrets I now live with, and then actually said that I wished someone had told me to expect this, or expect that, or… to do this, and to not do that… And then I wondered – who knew? Who knew these things and chose not to share them with me because they were worried about sounding like a know-it-all? Didn’t they know I needed to know some things? Why didn’t they tell me?
Shortly after this conversation with my friend this afternoon, I attended a Memorial service for my friend’s mother and brother. My friend and her siblings talked about their Mom and how she always pointed them to Jesus. She wasn’t afraid to die, but actually looked forward to being in heaven some day. My friend said what she would miss the very most about her mother was knowing that on a particular day of the week, at a very specific time, her mom was always praying for her, but now she wouldn’t be. I listened to those grown children talk about what they admired most about their mom, and it dawned on me that these are some of the things I need to know. I’m so glad that I attended. I needed that. I needed their mother’s wisdom.
On my drive home, I remembered my friend Jerry who passed a few years ago. He too, couldn’t wait to get to heaven. He always had at least 10 different kinds of ice cream in his freezer, (and we had some pretty serious conversations about life over at least 3 different flavors on several occasions). Many people spoke at his Memorial service too, and they told stories similar to my experiences with Jerry. His kids and grandkids laughed and shared memories of jello fights and getting lost frequently so that their Grandpa could tell them a story, or share some wisdom. I needed Jerry’s wisdom too.
I’m not sure why God chose to save me, and then to save my sons at the very same time. In fact, I’m not sure why He chose to save any of us – but He did, and not one day passes by that I don’t marvel at how miraculous all of this is. It’s pretty sweet to be confident that I’ll spend eternity not just with Christ, but with my sons and my daughters in law as well.
Sometimes, I have this yucky tendency to whine that things don’t always go my way, that I don’t see them nearly as often as I’d like, or that they live too far away. And then, I get reminded by watching those around me who don’t have to say a word. I just watch how they live, or hear about how someone else lived… And I realize (again), that it’s not all about me.
… and I just keep learning.
Young Mamas… if you think life is hard now with a toddler or two, just wait. It gets harder. It gets harder and harder and harder. And your parents might have done some things wrong, and you might think you’re going to do a far better job than them, but listen. Just listen to me so that you don’t have to learn some things the hard way (like I often do). You’re gonna screw some stuff up too. Seriously. Trust me – you are.
So, sit in the back of your church – way up high if you can. Young men – Find the older gentlemen who carry canes or use walkers to get to their pew. The ones who may not be able to raise their arms in worship, but they lift up their canes in praise. Listen for those who yell out “Amen! or “Halleluia!” and go find them, and sit down with them. They’ve been through some stuff, and they know some things that you need to know.
Young ladies – Get yourself some older women who have more history than future, walk a little slower, and tear up during the testimonies and baptisms. These gems have some wisdom you and I both need, and will teach us how to age with grace instead of becoming bitter and brutish.
I felt like my job as a Mum was all over once I became an empty nester. But every day I realize more and more, it was just a shift and position change. I get to pray for them differently now – for their marriages, for their relationships, and what I want more than anything else for them – not riches, fancy cars, wealth, popularity, or impressive credentials – but that they would look more and more like Christ every day. That’s what I want for my sons, my daughters-in-law, and grandchildren more than anything else. In this season of my life, this is how I’m praying, and I’m surrounded by those who show me how by the way that they live. I’m so grateful for that.
PS) “Aging with Grace” by Sharon Betters and Susan Hunt. Get yourself a group of gals and read it together. Read it a few times. Underline it, fold the corners of the pages over it, highlight it, and savor every chapter. Mull it over with each other. It is truly overflowing with wisdom. And don’t worry – I’ll tell you again in case you forget. 😉
To Rory & Holly, Ian & Hayley, Lyla, Owen, & Maci –
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.” Philippians 1:27-28