By Lindsey Carlson
I have never felt like an older thirty-two-year-old than I have this week. Yes, ladies above 32, you may commence eye-rolling. Having the chance to fellowship with a bride too young to have celebrated her first wedding anniversary and moms still cleaning off the warm spit-up of their newborns, does that to this mother of four who’s been married a whole eleven years. I joke, because I am well aware I am really not overly seasoned. But to a new wife, or a new mom, I seem seasoned enough.
If I were to tell these fresh faces “When I was dating my future husband, we chatted on AOL Instant messenger, or “When we got married Facebook didn’t even exist,” or, “When I had my first baby I didn’t even own a cell phone,” I’m sure they’d write off my ability to relate in one hot second. I know, because I’ve been-there and done-that to women older than me who supposedly walked to school uphill in ten feet of snow. Now ten years into being one of those women, I feel I’ve joined them uphill.
From up here I can see, no, my husband probably won’t ever learn to close the kitchen cabinets (despite my constant nagging) and yes, I will need to learn to respond with joy and just close them myself. I’ve learned even witty moms and great looking dads still have a 100% chance of spawning sinful sons and daughters who will demonstrate said sin-nature in the most inopportune moments and the most public of places. And I’ve realized you never really get the hang of marriage or parenting before some element changes, making you double-back on your efforts.
Unfortunately, instead of using my vantage point for good, something about having more experiences and years under my belt makes me want to vomit my-so-called-wisdom all over all those sweet, innocent, young things around me.
God Uses Our Years
Of course God uses our pain, our trials, our heartache, and our suffering for our good and for the good of those who love Him. We are instructed by scripture to use our suffering know-how to honestlyknow how togrieve with those around us; to mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep. Our common encounters are each a gift of grace, training us in compassionate camaraderie so we can relate to everything from mommy-guilt to miscarriages.
God uses our moments of greatest joy to teach us to rejoice with those who rejoice. Not to give us opportunities to laud our successes over one another or to those who have yet to experience their own triumph. Seeing victories and blessings throughout my life and my relationships gives me a chance to thank Godpublicly, not to praise myself, my own strengths, abilities, or perseverance. Knowing all good and perfect gifts come from the Father above leads me to rejoice with pure motives alongside my sisters when they’re celebrating everything from their child’s first pee-pee on the potty to the first confession of faith in Christ.
But God never intended to use my years to place me high up on a pedestal, above women who trail behind me in years, experience, or faith. He never intended for me to forget past struggles, the source of my strength in weakness, or whose hand offered me such grace, mercy, and deliverance. When I allow the years to edit out my own sin and the Lord’s sanctification, I proclaim only the parts I choose to remember and sing only of my own glory. And instead of faith, I demonstrate foolishness to the women listening. Instead of humility, I demonstrate haughtiness.
Over the years God has faithfully used my foolishness to expose the evil in my own heart (Proverbs 30:32), and called me to instead pursue wisdom “so I might understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). His will is for me to honor him above myself and all else. The thing about humility is it comes before honor. Before I am able to honor God, I must humble myself before him and also before the young women I hope to relate to. Even when they think they know all about what lies ahead.
In Ten More Years
If the Lord should grant me ten more years, I’m sure I will feel as outdated as my current iPhone when I sit across the table from new young women. But I pray my heart will be more relatable than ever as I counsel the bride still trying to cling to independence or the weary mama running on two hours of sleep.
I pray my vantage point would not be higher, but lower—lower in esteem than those around me, lower in expectation of what I hope others think of me, lower in what I think I’m able to accomplish in my own strength, lower in my need to impress others, lower in what I demand of others, lower in how often I judge hearts, lower in how quick I am to respond with prideful correction. In ten more years, Lord, I want a face lower to the ground, lower in humility.
Christ was not esteemed for His perfect, flawless life, but despised and rejected. A man of sorrows acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). Over the years I pray I see my inevitable aging not as a chance at my own exaltation, but as an opportunity for deeper fellowship with Christ. And, that the resulting self-control, purity, kindness, and submissiveness that flow from such intimate nearness would teach these younger sisters across the table and not my own prideful prosperity, reflective rebukes, or assumptive admonitions.
Lord, make me zealous for a lower vantage point so your name would be exalted among the nations.
Lindsey Carlson lives in Houston with her worship-pastor husband and their four active kids (all under age 9). Her home is filled with the sounds of childhood (galloping horses, swashbuckling heroes, and the occasional sibling brawl), the near-constant presence of music in some form, and volumes of great literature, old and new. You can catch her regular reflections on faith and worship at Worship Rejoices or follow her on twitter.
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