I remember back to a season of life when I was single and majoring in Human Services in college. I had to do a research paper on marriage and read a plethora of books on it so as to be well armed and articulate when I dazzled my professor with the profound wisdom and insight I had gained.
Move over marriage counselors, here I come!
Then I got married and all of my great knowledge instantly derailed on the train tracks of real life experience and the difficulties of melding two individual lives into one.
I soon discovered that our marriage didn’t fit every textbook and counseling manual.
There was only one him and only one me. Despite the helps of general pragmatism and spiritual advice, the uniqueness of our individuality was a coupling that hadn’t been written yet and we were ultimately at the mercy and wisdom of our God who had custom designed us both for his purposes.
As marriage journeyed along, I began to observe the couples around me who had children.
I would watch them interact with their children and think things such as, “my child will never behave like that” or “if only they would handle things this way.”
In time, I had my own children and humbly gagged on those words as they slowly slid down my dry and much parched- from- parenting- throat.
Having had five kids of my own and manning myself with all kinds of parenting books and articles, I had to acknowledge that not a one of my offspring was exactly alike and each had their own unique personality and dynamic that they brought to the family.
What worked with one child, did not work with the others.
I would have to gain wisdom from those books and advice where it applied to each child, but be ever mindful that there are no exact formulas when it comes to a people who are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’.
As well, I would go to church and observe so many of the things that I felt the older people were getting wrong with the faith.
They didn’t seem ‘authentic’ and ‘real’ like the younger generation was. Were their prayers and spiritual disciplines just going through the motions of tradition or were they sincere?
Wasn’t it time to replace the outdated with the fresh and the new?
Then I began to open my eyes to the many trials that older people deal with. The countless losses they experience with health, death and finances. Watching their hardships began to make me wonder if there might be some things in life that they could teach me about faith.
It became evident to me that as much as I thought I knew, I still had a whole lot more to learn.
With age comes wisdom and life experience teaches one much.
Fast forward to those years where I now look back and have learned from my own many trials and errors coupled with the ebb and flow of lifes circumstances.
It is easy on this end to think once again, I have arrived and have the answers. After all, have I not added some grey hair and wrinkles to the mix?
Then I hold a conversation with a person in their 20’s or 30’s, maybe a teen and I realize that lo and behold, I have learned something from them and gained some wisdom.
The biggest revelation in all of this is that whether young or old, the temptation to be wise in our owns eyes is a struggle that is real!
It is beyond easy for us to judge the generation above or below and miss the fact that every age has something to bring to the table.
I need the vibrancy, vision, fresh ideas and perspective of youth as well as the life experience of the elderly who have been tried and tested in the fire of trial.
Youth may be naive but the aged can become cyncial.
Youth may offer vision but the aged can offer experience.
Since none of us have life totally figured out yet, maybe we should continue on this path together and help each other grow.
As for myself, I still have a lot to learn.