My cluttered brain and my grey-headed friend

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(My late grandma Oleta and I in conversation weeks before she passed. She was an “older woman” in my life too.)

I have ideas all the time. All the time.  My phone is full of notes I voice-to-text to save for future reference. My bullet journal is full of thoughts, ideas, to-do’s, goals, dreams, plans, appointments, more ideas.  And if I had to draw a chart of what’s going on in my brain and try to organize and prioritize it would look more like a messy bubble map or word cloud.  If I don’t spend time getting the storm of ideas out of my head onto a paper (a bullet journal in my case… post it notes and individual paper notes just get lost at the bottom of my purse or left on the counter) I start to feel foggy-brained and anxious.  And usually this shows up in picking at the cuticles around my fingernails (don’t judge).

This past week, the skin around my nails was torn and bleeding.  Yeah, it’s bad and gross, especially when you’re a nurse.

About once a week, my friend Victoria and I get together to pray.  Actually, we get together and I feel like I mostly dump all the goings on in my life on her and she shares some of her burdens with me. We both close our eyes at a table, sometimes holding hands, and start casting our cares upon our Father, pleading with God to help our unbelief, praying for our family and friends. It’s treasured time.

Victoria and I aren’t “typical” friends. She is 30 years my senior.  She would say she’s a Martha and I a Mary. I would say she’s a strong, older woman in my life. She’s gone before me down many similar paths in life and her humble dependence upon the gospel spurs me on to love and good deeds.

This week I came to her house with my bubble-map/storm of thoughts on two pages of my bullet journal. All committments and desires I had.  All my pans in the fire.  She called it a shotgun of productivity and identified my need for priorities.  She approached God with me in prayer and we called on Him with scripture and confessions of not knowing how to pray.  It was so good.

Why am I sharing that my brain is a dust-storm of thoughts and I pick at my cuticules when I’m stressed and I pray with my 73 year old neighbor? Because we need this.  More people besides me in the church need this!  We need so desperately to depend upon each other.  We need to be vulnerable with each other as Paul taught Titus to teach the church in Crete when he said:

‘But you are to proclaim things consistent with sound teaching. Older men are to be self-controlled, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance. In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not slaves to excessive drinking. They are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, workers at home, kind, and in submission to their husbands, so that God’s word will not be slandered. In the same way, encourage the young men to be self-controlled in everything. Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching. Your message is to be sound beyond reproach, so that any opponent will be ashamed, because he doesn’t have anything bad to say about us. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people for his own possession, eager to do good works. Proclaim these things; encourage and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.’ Titus 2:1-8,11-15

He wasn’t prescribing that women should get together for teas and sewing classes and men get together for poker and football.  He was teaching Titus to teach the Cretans… to teach us to be a family, a body, dependent upon each other for muturing into the brothers and sisters of Christ!

If you don’t have an “older woman” or “older man” in your life pointing out your need for some priorities, praying with you, confessing and listening to your confessions, pray and start looking for them.  They’re there. They’re in your church.  They might have grey hair, or seem unapproachable because they’re from a different generation or culture or whatever.  But that’s what you need!  You need them. And boy do they need you.  The older men and women in the church need the younger men and women.  We need each other.

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