THE YOUNGER AND THE OLDER NEED EACH OTHER!
“Younger people and older people aren’t separate species. The old were once young, the young will get old. We have a lot of common cause.” (Mary Schmich)
The St. Arbucks’ coffee guzzlers agree entirely with the above quote. We wish we would have said that! Why is it that our society seems to continue to separate us by “age groups” and then wonder why we often do not understand each other? Our conversations this week centered on how we older ones can become more intentional about connecting with our younger friends all around us. How can we also model to the younger that we also need their presence, smiles, and input as we continue to age?
One grandpa turned the discussion around by sharing a “clever” approach to grandkids by writing up a list of “How grandkids can get along with your grandparents” Here goes:
- Carry pictures around of your grandparents at all times!
- Call us at any time, about anything.
- Keep loving your parents, as they keep loving you.
- Laugh at Grandpa’s jokes, even if …..
- Hug as much as you can. Grandparents live on hugs.
- Always know that your parents love you, even when you may not feel that they do.
- Listen to your parents more than your grandparents – they have to live with you!
- Say “I love you” as often as you can to your grandparents.
- Let them win some of the card and board games you play. They need affirmation also!
- Help your family and friends know that the Lord loves us all through our laughter, friendship, and caring for each other, as well as for others!
Our discussion then centered around what is the basic role of grandparents and other older adults to younger people. One word sums up our thoughts….ENCOURAGE! Do a word study in the Scriptures and see the significance of this word. It means to “inspire with hope.” The Lord encourages us through His love and forgiveness to be encouragers of one another. Other “encouraging” words from the Lord to check out are: Hebrews 3:13, Hebrews 10:25, and Ephesians 6:22.
So what are some other specific ways we can make intentional “connections” between the younger around us? First of all, be creative. Think of little action steps, take advantage of the people the Lord puts into our lives. And build on the relationships you already have with the younger!
How can you greet some young folks before and after worship? How can you show interest in the high school student who comes to your door asking for financial help on a school trip? Any chance of you signing up as a tutor at a local school? Here’s a few more quick suggestions shared:
- Listen, listen, listen to little kids. Give advice, if you wish, but no need to tell them what to do or not to do. Just listen and respond accordingly.
- Do special projects with the younger: visit hospitals and retirement homes together, play sports together, make something together, take them to a ball game, for an ice cream cone, or a movie.
- Think Out Loud. Let the younger hear your thoughts, concerns, passions for life. Share your own joys, as well as concerns, with them. A great way to model the process of aging.
- Share your faith together. Point out “God Sightings” to them in your own life. Talk about “What a friend we have in Jesus”, regardless of our age!
- Ask the little ones for their advice. Get a better perspective of their views on issues, joys and concerns of living. Then share your thoughts in non-judgmental ways.
In general, celebrate the little things in life with as many young people as possible. Be the “friendly, encouraging older adult” and a model of celebrating the Christ-Life, rather than the stereotype “grumpy old guy”! All it sometimes takes is a smile, a chuckle, and a kind word of friendship and support.
Come to think of it: as we encourAGE, encourAGE, encourAGE the younger, the Lord turns it around and helps them to encourage us as well. What a partnership of faith!
Philippians 2:1-3 is a nice conclusion for our St. Arbucks discussion: “If you have any encouragement from being united in Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. “
I think I’ll go and call my grandson right now, just to say “Hi” and “Thanks for being You!