My name is Betty Young and I have been a member of the English congregation for 38 years. I am married to Sam and together we raised 4 children. They are all married now and live in various places—San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston, Texas.
Long, long ago, before some of you were born, I was in college. I learned about the four stages of a woman’s life. They are: childhood, maidenhood (I know that this word dates me), motherhood and the last stage which starts at age 50 was called the age of the crone. I googled “crone.” It means a withered witchlike old woman. Since I am way past 50, I stand before you—a withered witchlike old woman.
Just before I turned 50, I remember thinking to myself, “Hmmm, I seem to have lost my waistline.” Not long after that I realized my waistline was not the only thing I lost. As my age crept up, I also lost my black hair, my night vision and my acute hearing. Ahh, but I gained, too. I gained more freedom from my children, I gained reading glasses and I gained senior discount movie tickets!
It was also at this time that relationship with my children improved. They all left home! By the time I hit 55-60, they were all living on their own. Perhaps, absence (and distance) makes the heart grow fonder. Living on their own with no one else to handle the routines of cooking, cleaning and laundry, they began to have a better appreciation for parents’ hard work on their behalf. They soon came to appreciate the sacrifices and burdens of parenting and to gain understanding and gratitude for parents.
Now that I am 65, I notice many other changes. For instance, I notice that reading–whether books, magazines or my cell phone–is becoming more and more difficult. The font is suddenly too small and seems blurry to me. Also, I go to bed at 9 now. No more late nights for me. I’m now experiencing body aches and pains. Everywhere I go these days, everyone looks so young—policemen, bank tellers, teachers, doctors. I’m looking over the tops of my glasses now and I really enjoy a good afternoon nap! And the thing that is most disconcerting –I seem to be forgetful and constantly misplacing important things—like my car keys.
Even as my physical body is beginning to fail, my inner spiritual self is thriving. For one thing, I have more time now to spend with God. My relationship with God has become sweeter and sweeter with age.
I have history now. Through the mountain top experiences to the very dark and low valley times and through the mundane daily routines of life, God has walked with me. I know Him deeply in my heart and soul. I can say with sincerity and from personal experience that the Lord is upright and He is my rock. He is God and there is no other. He is God and there is none like Him. Knowledge of and a relationship with God is no longer a theory or a hope. It has become my own personal truth.
A little more than two years ago, Sam and I became grandparents and we are having the time of our lives. I was totally unprepared for the strong feelings I would have. Not only is my heart filled with uncomplicated happiness but my cell is filled with a shameless number of pictures.
Being a mother was difficult and complicated. In contrast, my relationship with my grandchildren is totally different: There are fewer obligations and more enjoyment, fewer expectations and more acceptance, fewer lessons and a lot more laughter, fewer vegetables and more desserts (which reminds me of a legendary grandmother in the English congregation who gives her grandchildren dessert before dinner). Whenever I think about this, I can’t help but smile. I totally understand her thinking process!!
There are many of you here who are seasoned grandmothers. I list some of the things I’ve learned at first blush of this new status in my life.
- Each birth is a miracle and each child is a blessing. I love my grandchildren with a fierce and enduring love.
- I am not the same person as a grandmother that I was as a parent. I am not anxious. God has seen me through 4 children and He will see my children through theirs. I can adore these babies without being responsible. I can love freely and spoil with abandon.
- Silence is not just golden, but it is essential. Open lines of communication, frankness and honesty are usually what makes for a good relationship. Not so between grandmothers and the parents of your grandchildren—not if you hope to be invited into the life of a grandchild. DO NOT SPEAK YOUR MIND unless you want your head snapped off. Offer help only when asked and even then, I would caution you to proceed with care.
- Somewhat related to #3, grandparents should not tell their children how to raise their children. Allow them to learn themselves. We cannot insist that our children raise their children the same way we raised them. Just as we did what worked for us, so they will find a way that works for them. They are the parents and I am not. THEY will raise their children; I’ve already raised mine.
- And finally, they need our prayers more than they need our advice.
Job sacrificed for his children continually. The Bible says that Job was fearful that his sons would sin and turn away from God in their hearts and so he would get up early in the morning and offer burnt offerings for each of them. Job is my example. I pray continually for my children and grandchildren. If I can be a godly influence on them, then they will have a godly influence on the generations to come.
One day I will pass from this earth but my prayers will continue without me. God is not limited by death. We may die, but our prayers do not. They will live on because our eternal God remembers them. He does NOT forget. He will answer them in His time and in His way. Our God is a faithful God.
At 65, I have more years behind me than in front of me. We can learn from the Israelites who spent 40 years journeying in the wilderness. They left Egypt as slaves. During that time God shaped and molded slaves into a people, a nation able to defeat their enemies and conquer the promised land. We are also on a journey. We have a Promise Land. It will take a life time for God to shape and mold us into a people prepared to enter our promised land—heaven.
Let me end here. One of my favorite portions of scripture is found in Psalm 92:12-15. This is our answer to and in direct contrast to the picture of the crone.
The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree.
He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Those who are planted in the house of the Lord
Shall flourish in the courts of our God.
They shall still bear fruit in old age.
They shall be fresh and flourishing.
The word flourishing is mentioned three times in this short passage. It means to be blessed in all directions.
The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree. The leaves of a palm tree spread in all directions. The palm tree is a symbol of God’s peace, blessing and favor. It is a picture of blessedness in all directions, in every area of life, both personal and public; at home and at work; at school and at church.
He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. The cedars’ fragrance repels insects and that makes the wood from these trees an enduring wood. In fact, King Solomon used these trees to build the temple, the place where God’s presence dwelt among His people. We are temples, too. We house the Holy Spirit. We must grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
My prayer for all of you: May your life be a palm tree—to know God’s favor in all areas of your life. May you grow like a cedar in Lebanon—to be a suitable and proper temple for the Holy Spirit. May God’s face shine with pleasure on you.