I see traces of her everywhere and find it hard to believe that she’s gone. But, I’m happy for her. Heaven is her reward, but I miss her and sometimes I don’t know where home is now that she’s gone. It was the last time I would see her face and look her in the eyes to tell her, as many times as I could, “I love you, Grandma.”
Even in the nursing home unable to even remember what her name was, she still loved bling. She never wore anything but real diamonds and white gold before she started misplacing things and her memories. I wore a piece of jewelry that I thought would get her attention. I wore a cute outfit because she knew how to put an amazing outfit together back in the day. Her mouth was dry; she had stopped eating and drinking and was beginning to say less. I noticed her eyeing my outfit and looking at my necklace. She was quiet, then cleared her throat, and said, “You look cute.”
Those were her last words to me, and something that she would have said to me before Alzheimer’s took her mind from us. On Sunday I will dress up again and I hope that you will understand why. Having a grandmother that was active in my upbringing saved me in more ways than one and is probably why I prefer a church with various shades of silver hair mixed with a generation that still needs them now more than ever. People always ask me why we moved to a town that was primarily a retirement village to minister over twelve years ago. But, the real question is, why on earth would they vote in two punk twenty-seven-year olds to pastor their seasoned church? My only answer is that they believed that we could lead them and saw something in us that was worth taking a risk on.
I have watched older people get phased out of leadership, business titles, and roles. I shake my head at this because it’s wrong and not really smart or savvy. I do not believe for one minute that we get lesser roles just because we are growing older although some churches and businesses haven’t figured this out yet. Man, they are missing it. We shift gears. Sure, we might step away from a few things but mainly to redirect our calling and merge it with the season of life we are in. Things slow down and our output looks like mentoring the next generation instead of punching a time clock. But, that role is just as vital even if it’s an unpaid, title-less position.
Something profound happened when I opened my heart to being mentored by the generation before me that has paved the road for me to go further, faster than I deserve. I know so many of my generation feel misunderstood, but that’s exactly how the generations ahead of us and behind us feel. I don’t think we should phase out the people who are keeping the lights on at our churches and businesses. I think we need to invite them to dinner or ask for a coffee date at their kitchen table and listen to sound of wisdom flowing from their mouths framed by creases.
Years ago I had a retired pastor who loved me enough to give me advice, even in his eighties he was cutting edge. Pastor Harry’s hearing might have been failing, but I can assure you, this man heard from God. I miss him.
On Sunday I will dress up a little because I like to since I look like a yoga-pants-wearing mom most days, and because I respect the generation keeping our lights on and making it possible for us to make a really good living on shepherding them.
I’ll hug my friends who dress up a little different and look super cool and hip.
I’ll smile at the tattoo boys playing hymns and loving the body of Christ enough to stay when they could be attending the “cool church.”
I’ll hold weathered hands that pull me into the sweetest embrace and laugh as young mothers chase overly active toddlers around the pews after service.
The body of Christ is beautiful and diverse and to be great we need each other.
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (1 Cor 12:12-14 NIV)
If case you haven’t heard this in awhile, we need you. We need what you have to offer. I need what you have to offer. You are needed and necessary.
Much love, Jennifer Renee