For my most of my life I have struggled with friendship. I’ve had a difficult time building long-lasting friendships with girls my age and girls in a similar stage of life. In fact, most of my closest friends are significantly older than I am — as in they belong to entirely different generations. I’ve always viewed this part of my life as just something I couldn’t quite crack the code to. Earlier this year, as I transitioned into working full-time from home, I knew I needed to be extra prayerful about friendship. I knew this new stage of life might come with some loneliness and I knew not having those close co-worker relationships would leave somewhat of a void in my life.
So, I prayed that in the new year the Lord would provide me with friends. And boy was I excited when I was given an opportunity to join a women’s bible study. Yes, I thought. This will finally be a way for me to connect with some girls my age. And, as luck would have it…every single woman in that study is at least a decade older than me; some are a few decades older. And I was honestly a little disappointed. Because it fit right into the story of my life — always having a circle of friends that is far older than me.
And as we sat in study one morning and each woman was sharing her story and the things she has learned….I realized what an amazing privilege I had in being the youngest one in their presence. The wisdom that surrounded me was so refreshing when I finally saw what a blessing it was. And I finally learned something I think God has been trying to teach me for most of my life: the friendships I have with older women are the friendships I need the most.
So, today I want to walk you through why I think this is something God has been trying to reveal to me and why I think it is so important that we seek friendship with older generations.
Why Do We Need Older Women In Our Life?
The answer is probably pretty obvious: they are wise. And they can offer perspectives on our current situations that none of our similar-in-age gal-pals can. Having experience in different stages and transitions in life gives these women the ability to speak encouragement and direction into our lives.
At only 25 I feel like I still have so much growing to do. I still have moments of over-reacting, selfishness, and jumping into decisions a little too quickly. I still have so many questions about normal parts of life and adulthood. Like…at what point do I stop wearing cat-inspired clothing? What kind of vitamins should I really be taking? How often should I wash my windows? And exactly which garments should I be dry-cleaning? And, obviously more profound things like marriage, biblical principles, and the fears I have about starting a family. That is precisely why I need older women in my life to turn to with these questions.
The wisdom of women in older generations, whether 10 years older or old enough to be our grandmother, is unlike any other wisdom you can find. I would encourage you to seek these women out and befriend them with intention. Let them know you want their guidance and mentor-ship. They are likely spilling over with advice and more than willing to share with you.
Where Can We Find These Women?
Friend, the wisdom is all around you! In your family, your church, your workplace, and probably even your university.
The women in my family that I spend the most time with are, of course, my mom and grandmother and aunt. But, I also spend time with cousins that are significantly older than me. In fact, my summer after college was spent mostly with a cousin that is older than my mom.
Now that I live a little farther away from my family, I spend time with my husband’s family. My mother-in-law is a wonderful source of wisdom and because she has lived a totally different life than my own mom she can offer a whole new level of such wisdom. I’m close with one of my husband’s older sisters even though she is more than a decade older than I am. She offers so much wisdom about raising children and navigating marriage because she is still journeying through that season of her life.
Outside of family, I spend a lot of quality time with older women from my church, former co-workers and even former supervisors that I have gained so much wisdom from. I’ve even built friendships with wives of older men that my husband has befriended. As a couple, my husband and I have discovered that there is just nothing like getting marriage advice from couples who have been married far longer than we have.
If none of these routes seem like a good source of friendships for you then try reaching out to older women in your community like those that own small businesses, women you see in your gym or yoga class, and that lady that lives across the street. You might be surprised by the places you can find really wonderful friendships.
If you have known me for any length of time then you know that I used to work in the Interior Design field. And one of the most wonderful blessings I found in that was getting to befriend all of the clients I had, especially the older women. I’m still quite close with a few of them even though I have stepped out of the industry. I fell in love with going into these women’s homes and hearing their stories.
So, friend, just keep your eyes open. There is a woman out there that is so ready to offer you wisdom and guidance and true friendship.
How Do You Invest In These Friendships?
So, maybe you already have some women in your life that you look to for advice. But you’re just confused about how you can invest in those friendships. Well, just like everything else we have talked about today, it’s really quite simple.
First of all, it’s important that you recognize that the friendship you can have with an older woman is not a one-way street. I have found that most of the friendships I have with older generations are just as much a source of joy for them as they are for me. So, never believe that by seeking out these friendships you are taking more than you can give. You just have to be conscience about how you invest in them.
I have found that older women love to share their life experience with me and talk for hours about what they have journeyed through and what they have learned. And I have found that they wouldn’t have these long conversations if it didn’t give them some sort of purpose. My mother-in-law is part of a the same local bible study that I attend and she has regularly mentioned that she loves being the oldest at our table because she loves getting to share her experiences with the rest of us in hopes that it helps us journey through our own seasons and stories.
So, you see, there is room for you to make a difference in this friendship as well. Be receptive of what your friend shares — really consider her advice and apply it to your own life. Give your time and be fully present in whatever it is you choose to do together. Share your worries and fears and questions about life regularly — this reminds her that her own story is incredibly purposeful. And, of course, be sure to let her know how grateful you are for her friendship. If this particular woman is not a family member, go out of your way to make her FEEL like family. Invite her to important life events — like your bridal shower or college graduation. Let her know that you don’t take her presence in your life for granted.
How can we pay it forward?
Maybe you have a solid friendship with women of older generations. And maybe you are really being present in that friendship and investing as best you can. But, there is one more way that you can be intentional about friendship: be the older woman. Even if you are barely out of high school or only in your early 20s. You can still find a young girl that needs your presence in her life. Maybe she is an only-child in your extended family — be the big sister she always wanted! Perhaps she is a teenager you know without a mom or a strong female role in her life. Maybe she is YOUR little sister or your best friend’s little girl. Whoever she is, try to remember where and who you were at that stage of life and what you needed in a role-model. And be whatever that is FOR HER.
Friendships are so much more than just our girlfriends whose life is just as messy as our own. Friendship is a long conversation with your neighbor. Friendship is crying with a co-worker when she’s walking through a time of grief. Friendship is being the role-model to someone that you wish you had growing up. Friendship is valuing the presence of someone in your life, no matter her age.