I had been going to a little church on my street corner for over a year. I was a single mom and had gone through having a baby alone, with a toddler to take care of, and financial destitution, which landed me on welfare. This church provided for me often, cared for me emotionally as I dealt with the pain and fear of abandonment, and when my little boy got very sick, and ended up on life support, the prayers and spiritual support I received was unbelievable.
In this season, I began praying and planning for my future. Through God’s direction I applied for University. As plans fell into place, the next step was to move, and moving would included a new church.
As this huge life transition was about to unfold, I felt sad to say goodbye, and nervous to leave such a strong support system. I clearly remember God saying to me, “I am discharging you from intensive care.” This little church, full of support had been my emergency room. I arrived there abandoned, broken, poor, and full of shame. Through God’s spirit, I was almost whole and well enough to be discharged from such intensive spiritual, emotional, and physical care.
That was 12 years ago. Now I belong to a church, where I am a part of the care team, who helps facilitate healing in others. It’s amazing, and I cannot think of anything more fulfilling than pouring into another persons life. I love being a part of the healing side of the fence. I love watching God move and ministering into people’s lives, and watching them get stronger and stronger.
Can I admit that sometimes I miss those days of being in intensive care? I definitely don’t miss the circumstances that led to my weakness, but I missed the dependency I had with God. It was the kind of dependency where you often prayed – “God, if you don’t come through, I’m going to die!” This is the type of intimacy only trial seems to bring.
I also missed the season of being mentored by others, always asked how I was, and the offer up of wisdom and support at any chance. Now I am in this stage in my life where young people want my wisdom, and older people want my strength, and sometimes it can be very lonely.
I always thought that when a woman hit her 40’s that her full independence would arise, I looked forward to arriving, to having a lot of experience, knowledge and strength and still the energy to move forward; but I just never expected to feel so floundering some days. I think people just forget that women my age are often desperate for encouragement and crying out for support, but we are trained well to be strong, and know how to posture ourselves to give more than we receive.
Can I even say that we feel stupid feeling this way? We feel immature and needy? Inside we are still longing for approval and encouragement, because we are tired and we are afraid, and we have more on us than we know how to carry well, and we are overwhelmed, and we just need someone to give us a big hug and a little of their strength.
In some ways, this pushes us into a more dependent relationship with God, it pushes us to His Word more for direction and wisdom. I see the inner value and strengthening that comes from being strong for others, and having to be strengthened by the strongest of all.
However, I do feel that the loneliness I feel often is legitimate, and the only reason I am writing this personal blog post, is that I know I am not the only one who feels this. I know that there are many other strong women, who have a lot of responsibility who feel this way too. Many of us middle agers, are desperate for the wisdom, encouragement and support of an older woman, but we are in that strange stage of life where we become the ‘middle child’, prone to being ignored because we know how to behave well and not demand attention.
In our culture we have divided the generations. Older women with older women, middle-aged women high fiveing middle aged women in the carpool lane, younger women taking selfies with younger women. This is a terrifying divide and I feel that if it continues, our souls and spiritual strength will suffer.
I feel that the middle-aged women need to take young women under their wing more, and offer advice. And young women need to stop throwing our advice out over articles you read online. Young women need to start cleaving to the wisdom and experience we have from our stories of failure and success, not scientific statistical data. You need us. Trust me, put down your safari and search out a middle aged woman to mentor you. Middle aged women – you need to take care of the older women, loving them and honoring them. The older women need the strength of a middle aged woman, who has the maturity to see their needs, and the energy to fulfill them. Middle aged women have got to start stepping up to the plate and easing their fears of the future, offering the gift of conversation, and easing the burn of loneliness. Older women – middle aged women NEED you so desperately. We need to hear that you battled and won, or at least got stronger. We need your encouragement so desperately, we NEED you to see the pain and overwhelming panic behind our strong smiles and kind eyes. We need you to pray for and mentor us, and tell us that it’s going to be okay. We need to feel sheltered by your emotional support.
Every generation is desperate for a touch from the other. We need each other, in unique and personal ways. If we were to be really honest I think we desperately need one another, and I believe loneliness is one of the greatest hidden secrets us strong women feel.
We need a hand below and a hand above to lead us.
Who’s hands do you need to grab?