Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged...Leviticus 19:32
This past weekend we had a Christmas party on my mother’s side. For the first time in many, many years, it was cancelled last year due to no one volunteering to host it. For as long as I can remember we’ve had parties but, although my Mum’s generation has the want for a party, most no longer have the stamina to coordinate them. It fell to my generation and there were no volunteers. My heart went out to the family but we had sickness in my own household; there was no guarantee we’d make it to a party if they had one let alone host it. Earlier this year, at my request, I was entrusted with the family finances that remained and offered help and cooperation to make this year’s party happen– which it did.
Planning the party was an incredible amount of stress, but I needn’t have worried, it went off without a hitch. Throughout the evening I observed the “gray heads” laughing and sharing memories with each other and catching up on the new homes, new babies, and new jobs of nieces and nephews. Then there were the cousins and cousin-in-laws entrenched in light-hearted chitchat. Love bubbles floated all around me as I saw what joy getting together brought, especially to the elders. Their joy made all of the time, effort, and resources invested worth it.
Family: love them, leave them, don’t judge me by them–I laugh every time I read that last one on a t-shirt. Bob dared me to buy it and wear it to family gatherings. Getting together with family creates stress in some people with just the very thought of it–I know, I confess that I’ve experienced it. There always seems to be that one relative that rubs me raw. Hosting the Christmas party this year caused me to see family through a different lense, and though that evening was joy-filled, part of me is very grieved by what I’m seeing and hearing.
I fear what will happen when the gray heads, those ones not submersed in technology, who believed in hard work and not entitlement, and knew the value of family, are gone. What will society be like? How many times have I witnessed parents in public with their young children but they’re paying no attention to them; their eyes are glued to their gadgets. I want to say, “Hello. There’s a real, living being, your child, in your presence, engage them. Look them in the eye and invite them to talk. They’ll be grown before you know it.” Then I’ve seen it in reverse: the kid out with the grandparent who absent-mindedly stuffs food in their face while staring at their gadget and the grandparent looks on in silence, a wistful expression on their face. I want to grab that kid and say, “Hey! Look them in the eye and ask them about their life. They have so much to share and they’ll be gone before you know it.” Another chance for meaningful conversation and memories shared, lost.
As frustrating as family can be at times, I’d suffer a huge void without them. Earthly family got me to thinking about heavenly family.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us… John 1:14
God created man. He came and talked with Adam in the cool of the evening. Then man sinned. And the only way to redeem him, the only way God could bring man around to right relationship with Him again, to have him for the family He longed for, Jesus had to come. He had to leave Heaven, His throne, and every thing familiar to Him. He humbled Himself and became one of us. As a child, He submitted Himself to His parents (Luke 2:51). He learned the dynamic of the human family on first-hand terms. He witnessed the ugliness and the beauty of humanity in an up-close-and-personal way. And despite it all, He loved us to the cross.
Mind boggling, this love that God has for man.
Join me in passing on this love to the gray-haired by means of an unexpected phone call, surprise lunch out, or card via snail mail. Having done visitation at a nursing home years ago, I remember how forgotten and lonely some of the residents felt. Let’s show them love and give them the honor that’s due.
Let us also show love and gratitude to the Father of fathers and the Son Who has made us joint heirs with Him.
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…” Romans 8:16,17
*For a comic treat, click here and check out some senior experiences and parodies done by “gray-haired” Barb 🙂 To make it even more meaningful, view it with an elder in your own life.