“Ruthie, patience is a virtue!” I can still hear my feisty grandma’s high-pitched whistling words reminding me to be patient. It was a phrase she said to me often and to be honest, I miss hearing from her.
As the years go by since I last heard my grandma’s voice, it becomes overwhelmingly obvious to me that the impression we can have on others lasts a lifetime. Of course, we have our own children we can influence but really our impact extends way beyond that. Whether it is one of our own children, our children’s friends or our own grandchildren, we have an incredible opportunity to speak into the lives of those that are younger and shape the way they see and navigate their world.
I experienced this kind of love and direction from my own grandparents and am an example of the positive influence we can have on others. Even though I had loving and highly involved parents, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents.
My grandmother gave of herself selflessly since the day I was born. The love, support, and security that she provided for me, shaped who I am today. I can remember my grandma picking me up from school when I was sick and taking me to her house. Truth be told, I wanted to get sick just because of the cozy afternoon I knew I would spend at her home.
In the summer, Grandpa would take me to the neighborhood pool for hours and return home to play endless games of Skip-bo and Uno with me. I felt as if they couldn’t spend enough time with me and I couldn’t spend enough time with them. I loved my Grandma and Grandpa.
Then there were the long letters my grandma would type out on her typewriter and send to me while I was away at college. She always went above and beyond to pour into my life, let me know she was thinking of me and to make me feel loved with her signature x’s and o’s. My grandparents’ love gave me an irreplaceable sense of security by just knowing they were always there, no matter what.
In today’s culture, we don’t generally think of “old” as being good, unless we are talking about an antique piece of furniture or a vintage car. For many, “old” is less than desirable, used to describe something that is inferior to newer, better, brighter, and stronger. The message is clear: new is good and “old” is bad.
But in God’s eyes, old is good – especially in reference to godly men and women.
In the Bible, the old are described as wise (Job 12:12) and worthy of honor (Leviticus 19:32, Titus 2:2-3). For those who are righteous, gray hair is like a “crown of splendor” (Proverbs 16:31).
In God’s eyes, old is not bad. The old are not past their prime but are to be even more purposeful with their time.
Psalm 71:18 says, “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”
Those advancing in age are to be men and women living with eternal purpose, intentional about passing on godly wisdom, truth, and praise to the next generation. Older men and women of this character are greatly needed. We need them in the church and we need them in our families. We need parents, grandparents, and if we are fortunate enough, great-grandparents who are not only present but purposeful.
Here are a few reasons ways elders can impact our families for good:
- We need their wisdom –Parents and grandparents are often a source of untapped wisdom for many families. Sometimes our lack of humility can keep us from learning from those who have walked where we haven’t walked yet. But if we can learn to humble ourselves, we have so much to gain.
- We need their history – Older men and women offer us perspective. We need their stories to remind us that we are a part of something bigger – bigger than just our immediate family. Parents and grandparents, with their legacy and history, help us steward our part of the story well.
- We need their example –Parents and grandparents remind us that life is hard, full of unexpected events, a journey of both triumphs and trials. Those who have persevered before us give us hope, joy, security, and sometimes, just the encouragement to keep pressing on!
We need all the good the old have to offer. While a husband and wife’s relationship with one another should be the priority relationship, it doesn’t have to be to the exclusion of parents, grandparents, and older men and women of faith. We need their wisdom, stories, encouragement, perspective, and example.
Today, I realize how very blessed I was to have my grandma and grandpa who loved me unconditionally, gently guiding and directing, but mostly loving.
Just as they loved me selflessly, I aspire to do the same with the children God places in my path and God-willing the grandchildren I have down the road. You too can have that impact. You too play a part in generations to come. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
I was loved selflessly by my grandma and grandpa and I will never be the same.