Since coming to this church, Chad and I have had the special privilege of spending time with senior adults in our congregation. We’ve sat and talked with them, visited their homes and looked at their photographs, momentos of their younger days, awards and newspaper clippings. We’ve seen very first love notes and wedding photos and men with more hair and women with more curves, all spelled out in black and white dream-like photos and yellowed crinkled paper, carefully preserved. We’ve marveled that they have stacks of things waiting for us to look at. We feel honored to be allowed to see their past and hear their stories.
One thing I’ve learned from these encounters is that older Christians have such a faith story to tell! Many have endured tragedy after tragedy. Some have lost children, buried spouses, dealt with mental illness and children gone astray. Others couldn’t have babies at all. Many have been sick–really sick–for a long time or have been miraculously healed. Listening to their stories and seeing their enduring belief has strengthened my faith.
Often we get frustrated with older generations. We criticize them and berate them for being “out of touch.” We giggle when they don’t know how to use technology or when they don’t seem interested in popular culture. But, we are so busy acting superior that we miss the lessons that their lives can teach us. It’s true that sometimes older people can be ornery, and usually they are quick to admit it, but when we learn all the ways that God has moved in their lives through the years, and when we witness a faith that has endured, it changes us for the better.
Young people would be wise to be a little more humble when presuming to tell older Christians how to be. They have endured much, and their faith remains. I feel blessed to be able to get a small taste of what that long-suffering trust in God looks like. I pray that when I am put to the test like our older friends have been, my love for God will hold fast, and maybe someday I will be able to share a long and beautiful faith story with the younger generation.