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An Open Letter to an Older Woman

Dear Friend,

I saw you at our ladies’ Bible study the other day and wanted to let you know how much it meant to me that you were there. I know you have family members to care for and it isn’t always easy to come, so it really encouraged me that you made the effort and considered gathering with the women in our church a priority for your life.

I’m beginning to see just a glimpse of how hard it is to grow older in the church. Everywhere you look, younger people are taking on leadership positions. The music is changing, the Bible studies are taught by younger women, and even the books and articles you see online or in magazines are by younger people. You see words like “fresh,” “new,” and “young.” Maybe you wonder if there’s even still a place for you in all of this.

So I wanted to take this chance to let you know how much I love you and how much the church needs you. Maybe you think we younger women are not teachable. Maybe you’ve tried to be a Titus 2 woman and have just been ignored. Maybe you feel you’ve been burnt by women who, even unintentionally, refused your wisdom or help.

Please don’t give up on us. We may not always realize it, but we do need you. I can only speak for myself here, so that’s what I’ll do.

At the ripe old age of 30, I look back on my twenties and see how far I’ve come. It’s hard to believe how foolish I used to be. I see now how faithful God has been and how He’s carried me through trials. When I spend time with college students or first-time moms, I want to spare them the pain I experienced. I want to protect them from repeating my mistakes. And yet, I know God graciously used these things to grow me.

Maybe you look at me and see the same thing. But you don’t say it, and that means a lot to me. I want you to know how it encourages me to hear you talk of God’s faithfulness. You have experienced pain and suffering I cannot comprehend, and yet you walk in peace and reliance on Him. You have a perspective I need to hear, but you give it with such grace and love, never judgment or condescension, which I know is hard when you’re seeing right through my over-confident exterior.

Maybe it’s hard to hear a 30-year-old teaching you or leading your small group. Or perhaps you’re frustrated when you see yet another article about being a young mother, written by a young mother. You were told to be a “Titus 2 Woman,” but no one seems to want your wisdom or training.

But I want you to know, you are training me, even if you don’t see it. Here’s what I’ve noticed about you:

  1. You Are a Teacher—You may not be teaching me practical ways to raise my kids or cook for my husband, but you’re teaching me what is far more important. You’ve realized the joy in being Mary, rather than Martha. You don’t have to tell me to study the Word, because your example says it all. You know the Word not because you want to rattle off Scripture to impress people, but because you have to know it. God’s Word has carried you through unspeakable pain. You have drunk of its refreshing truth, and now it just spills out of you with joy.
  1. You Are a Leader—You may not be on the women’s committee and you may not have time to be a small group leader, but you are most definitely leading. I look to you frequently, waiting to hear what you’ll say before I speak. I admit I don’t do this often enough. I’ve noticed how you quickly remind me of the main thing. You point to God’s love for me in Christ, bringing me back to fundamental truth when I so easily get sidetracked by secondary issues. You have the wisdom of seeing things from a bird’s eye view, while I zero in on one thing and obsess over it. You lead me by your example.

So if it’s not too much to ask, please keep coming. Maybe sometime we can get coffee and I can find out more about your life and God’s work in your heart. I can be honest with you, because you’ve showed me by your gracious example that I shouldn’t be enslaved to your opinion of me. So I know you won’t place requirements on me in order to spend time with you. Your love for me flows out of God’s love for you in Christ. Your acceptance of me flows out of God’s acceptance of you because of Christ’s righteousness. You know these things motivate me far more than any checklist or schedule ever could.

Your example is that of the apostles in I Thessalonians 2:6-8:

Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.  So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

So finally, please pray for me. I’m frequently brash and headstrong and far too focused on myself. I may not value you as I should. But I and so many other younger people in the church look up to and have learned so much from you. It would mean so much to know you’re praying for me. And please give me opportunities to pray for you as well. I love you, my sister and my friend. I want to serve you. Please forgive me for overlooking you in the past.

I look forward to seeing you next week.

-Catherine

39 responses »

  1. Vivian Etherington

    Love this, Catherine! So needed!

    Reply
  2. This is absolutely beautiful.

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  3. Sweet encouragement, Catherine. I’m an older woman, and you brought tears to my eyes.

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  4. This is so, so good! It touched me, but then I am old, aren’t I? Thank you.

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  5. Now this was music to my old ears. Bless you for writing this.

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  6. What a blessing to read this….thank you!

    Reply
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  8. This was very moving. thanks for sharing it. I was at a surprise birthday party for an older T2 woman in my church (66 yrs) that was planned by our younger women. They wanted us all to tell her how her faithfulness to God has impacted our walk with Christ. What a joy it was to hear these young women speak so highly of her & to hear her say it felt like they were speaking of someone else. Us older women do impact the young ones even when we don’t realize it. I am thankful for these sweet women who desire a T2 woman in their lives…thankful too for older women in my own life.

    Reply
  9. How beautiful! Thankyou for sharing…to another ‘older’ woman

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  10. I am an older woman and I appreciated this. Thanks.

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  11. Such a wonderful post, Catherine. I actually write letters with a woman in her eighties and her wisdom is something I am so extremely grateful for.

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  12. Catherine, thank you for your heartfelt blog. It set me to thinking about just how important the younger women in the body of Christ are to those of us from an older generation. We are encouraged, challenged, and invigorated when we see “daughters” in the faith who embrace the timeless truth of God’s Word with zeal. Truly wherever we are on the timeline of church history, by God’s design, we have a contribution to make. I am reminded that the most vibrant Christians I know (no matter their age) are those who have never lost the wonder of God’s saving grace in their lives.

    Reply
    • Beautifully stated, Sherry. Thank you.

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    • Martha Torreson

      Love your comment, Sherry!!! So true!!! As I (also of an older generation) work with the elderly in a nursing home, your words speak volumes of those whose walk with the Lord is in their final days here on earth… Oh, how humbled I am to sit with these dear sisters in Christ… Till their final breath is taken this side of heaven, the Lord continues to use them to reflect “the wonder of God’s saving grace”! Thank you, Sherry, for this beautiful comment! I’m going to be sharing your comment with others, right along with Catherine’s article! God’s blessings to you!!

      Reply
  13. So beautiful and encouraging, Catherine. Thank you.

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  14. Catherine,
    I, too, am an older woman and write encouragement for young mother and wives. It brought tears to my eyes also. Just keep your eyes on Jesus and let it overflow to your family and others that god has placed in your life, and you will thrive in the Lord. That is all that matters, dear one! Thank you :)

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  15. This was beautiful. I’m not older, but I’m older than some. I still look to the older women to keep on keeping on for Christ. We need to see that faithfulness and consistency. Loved and shared. Thank you.

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  16. This was so encouraging and beautiful. I am an older woman in a mostly 20 and 30-something church. Thankfully I do feel appreciated and loved most of the time, but reading this helped me to remember to persevere even when I don’t. It is Christ’s love that must compel me, not a feeling of appreciation. Thank you.

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  17. This was a blessing and an encouragement. I’m one of those Titus 2 older ladies, doing my best to mentor younger women. Thank you for this sensitive post, especially that you would encourage others in this way.

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  18. I remember how sobering it was when a young mom recently told me that I’m one of the older women given a commission in Titus 2. Almost as sobering as when I was a 30-something family pastor’s wife in a large church and I kept being asked by the women my age, “Where are the older women?” Thanks for affirming that women of all ages have a biblical role to play in the church.

    Reply
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  20. I am not an older women, or even close to being one. I’m just 16, and I wanted to say that I truly am thankful for all of the older women in the church. They’ve always been closer and better friends to me than the people my age.

    There is one woman in particular I know, whom I affectionately call ‘Mama’. She has half-adopted me (not legally, though) and I wholeheartedly agree with the two points made. We often study the Bible together in the evenings, and I love listening to her. She’ll read a chapter, then go over it section by section, telling what it means to her or openly wondering things. I notice the joy, love, and awe with which she reads God’s Word, and I know that she responds that way because she truly loves Him and has seen His guidance, provision, and comfort in her life.

    “I can be honest with you, because you’ve showed me by your gracious example that I shouldn’t be enslaved to your opinion of me. So I know you won’t place requirements on me in order to spend time with you. Your love for me flows out of God’s love for you in Christ. Your acceptance of me flows out of God’s acceptance of you because of Christ’s righteousness. You know these things motivate me far more than any checklist or schedule ever could.”

    This is also true of her. My life has been pretty lacking in love, and it’s hard for me to accept that someone could possibly love me not for what I’ve done or what qualities that I may posses, but rather love me in spite of my many failings and problems. She is now homeschooling me because my parents can’t and I was getting lost in public school. She’ll sometimes come to me during the school day and ask me, “How’s my Sarah?” Everything she does speaks love and proclaims Christ, and I am very grateful for her.

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  21. This is a beautiful letter. I so enjoyed reading thru it. Also loved the reply from the 16 yr. old above and glad that she has this older person in her life and appreciates her so much. J.A. Wright

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  22. How precious! I am that older woman. Behind-the-scenes praying caring loving daring. It’s true that people love youth. We live in such a celebrity society. These gray hairs, these worn wrinkles, speak distance but I won’t go there. It’s not about how others treat me but all about what’s going on in my heart. May I always be more concerned about my own distance from God than anything that is happening around me. I love Him so and you stirred something in me that was just beautiful. So, thank you! I’m not really a “throw away.” I’m loved far more than I can ever imagine. My gratitude, Bev

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  23. Dear Catherine,
    Thank you for your letter. I often wonder as an older woman if my going to our Bible Study makes any difference. I want to obey God’s word and be a Titus 2 woman but our churches make this hard to do. Your letter made me teary eyed too. Thanks for the affirmation.
    -Mary Jane

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  25. Thank you for writing this very special and needed letter. I am in the “middle”, too. I mentor teens and 20 somethings but often forget I need to continue to look to those wonderful older women in my church. I deeply appreciate this reminder and want to share your words with others.

    Reply
  26. Reblogged this on WordWorks and commented:
    I love this! Thought maybe you would too. Speaks to the heart in a timely fashion.

    Reply
  27. Great Stuff. I was in a mixed Bible Study years ago and we had gotten off into abstract concepts of scripture. My friend just shook her head and said ” stop this nonsense its about one thing and one thing only. Its about 6 hours one Friday”. She was right.

    Reply
  28. Elizabeth Beavers

    Catherine, when I read this, it truly hit home. There is an aspect of my life that’s different from some of the other older women. That is the fact I have no children. So many of the women’s meetings, workshops, conferences, etc we have at our church focus on rearing children. Sometimes I truly don’t know where I fit in. The greatest disappointment of my life is that we have no children.
    About 3 years ago I was TDY to Fayetteville. While there I met a friend of Emily’s and we became close. She told me she had prayed for God to send an older woman for her to be friends with as her mother was in Jonesboro and she didn’t have anyone like that in Fayetteville. It was very special to feel I had filled a void in her life.
    Still, it can be difficult trying to be a Titus 2 woman, especially in a large church such as ours. Thank you for this and for your insight. It is very special and brought tears to my eyes.

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    • Elizabeth, thanks for sharing this. Your comment made me cry. I know you have been such a blessing to your nieces, and undoubtedly to countless others whom you may not even realize you’ve blessed. But what a gift that God gave you by sending you to this young woman, and what a great gift for her. I pray you’ll find a place of joy and partnership in the gospel in your church!

      Reply
  29. I shared this with my mom, who is 73. She hosted a tea party for older women at her home yesterday. They just loved it. Most of the ladies are widows, and anywhere from 70 to 90 years old. They feel overlooked and forgotten so much of the time. My mother is active and reaches out, but many widows sit at home and wait to be included. Health issues may prevent them from doing more. “Honor her for all that her hands have done” is from Proverbs 31. Mom wanted the ladies to feel special, and I think they did. They need friends and fun in their lives, as well as God. I printed out a dozen or so copies for her to give out to the tea party ladies. Thanks for writing this. Mom is planning to keep a few copies to give to other ladies as she runs across those who might need to hear this.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Donna. I’m glad it was encouraging. I love that your mom did that. I think it’s so hard for women who are either not healthy enough to be involved, or are caring for family members who are struggling with health issues. We need to find a way to still include them and let them know they are loved and important.

      Reply
      • Martha Torreson

        Catherine, I have so enjoyed reading these comments and reading your amazing letter. I shared it on FB, and I want to share it with so many. Touches the hearts of so many. I am now one of those older women (how did that happen? years go by so quickly)! I care for my 95 year old father, and I work (in spiritual care) at a nursing home. The older women in my life are in their 80’s, 90’s, & even over 100! We miss out on sooooo much by not listening to what these women have to share, even those with dementia… Dementia does NOT effect their hearts! We just need to reach to touch their hearts & to honor, respect, & learn from them.

        Your words, “You have experienced pain and suffering I cannot comprehend, and yet you walk in peace and reliance on Him. You have a perspective I need to hear, but you give it with such grace and love,…” is so true!!! I’ve especially learned the blessing of having these elderly sisters in Christ now in my life, from whom I glean so much as they walk their life of faith so close to the day they will walk right into the presence of Jesus in our eternal Home. As I sit & listen to their hearts, and hear of their own life’s journey, I am truly humbled by the consistent trust & the humble glory given onto the Lord.

        And, yes, I’m humbled, too, to be an older woman in our church. Thank you so much for this article! And I’m going to share it often as Donna’s mom (above) is doing. Thank you Donna for your comment! Loved all these comments!!! God’s blessings to these sisters (comments above) in Christ! Oh, what a day that will be when we truly meet together forever, forever-ageless & blessed in His presence, our eternal glorious Home!!

        Reply
        • Catherine Parks

          Thank you so much, Martha, for your encouragement! I’m so glad this was uplifting for you, and I love that you are there to spend time and pour out love on these ladies (and no doubt receive much in return) in their later years.

          Reply

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