“You don’t have much to offer at your age”

31 Aug

August 31st.

Next to Christmas (because growing up at my house meant a whole TON of presents) August 31st became my favorite day at a VERY early age.

You guessed it; it’s my birthday.

Oh let me tell you, this birthday is the “living large and in charge” birthday.  I’m 29 today.  The last year of my 20’s, before I’m officially “old” in my thirties (give me a break!), the prime of my youth.

Check me out baby- I’m all over this year… taking care of my four kids… driving my mini-van… as an official member of the middle-class.  I got it going on GURL (Isn’t that right, the new thing the teens do? Miss-spell words, on purpose?)

First of all, I’m not all about birthdays.  I’m not against them, but I don’t think the whole world needs to celebrate with me.  We celebrate birthdays at our house with just those that live in our house, cake, and one present.  I don’t think planning the whole sha-bang of a celebration every year is wrong, we just don’t do it.

And I hope you could read a little of the sarcasm about 29 in my opening dialogue. I will be THRILLED- you read that right, T H R I L L E D to see my 20’s go.

Hear me on this. Our words and responses to people carry a lot of weight.  Whether we like it or not, they leave impressions and cause reactions.

For example- how annoying is it when you’ve been married for one week, and 1,000 people ask you “when are you going to have kids?” Yet, even those annoyed by the question when it was them being asked, will often repeat it to others.

It’s this “small talk epic fail” as I like to refer to it.  When you don’t know someone very well, or aren’t known very well, but you want to be polite and strike up conversation. So questions that are usually WAY too personal, pose some form of inferred judgment, and actually leave the person possibly wishing no conversation had happened at all usually take place.

The last few years haven’t been nearly as bad since we have 4 kids, and I’d taught a number of studies at our church really giving people the opportunity to get to know me, but 20-26 seemed to remind me constantly that I was young, inexperienced, and had very little to offer.

I know that women never mean to be condescending when they say things like “Oh honey, you’re young, just wait until you’ve lived longer or have more experience.”

The message that comes across is “Oh honey, because you’re young, you really just shouldn’t even talk… leave that to us who have experience and actually have something to offer right now.”

I’ve watched so many women sit in fellowship with older women and never open their mouths because they feel such a deep level of intimidation it almost evokes a spirit of fear.

And the sad truth is that this happens even with “age of Christianity.” Women who are 45 years old but just became a Christian two years earlier will actually sit on the sidelines and never attend a Bible study because they feel so afraid to look a fool in front of others who have more wisdom or maturity and their way around the Bible.

Most of the time, if an older woman was told she made a younger woman feel like she was stupid or had nothing to offer, she’d feel terrible about that.  The feeling of being belittled is not always done intentionally. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still happen.

Which is why I’m taking note of this while it is fresh on my mind.

Practical Application:

As I enjoy this last year of “being too young to have anything to offer the world” I hope to take good notes and really burn this lesson on my heart.

I intend to take the weight of my words that are meant to be humorous or ice-breakers, with a little more merit than I would have before.

I pray that as I go forward, I will allow women of all ages and all spiritual levels of maturity to speak without interruption and without cutting them off at the knees with comments that actually take away from what they do have to offer. Instead, I hope to build them up and bring out points that are rooted in the experience they do have and wisdom they’ve been given through their life circumstances and/or revelation from the Spirit, regardless of their age or how long they’ve been a Christian.

How about you?

Do you have a memory where someone really spoke something that almost gave you a shove back and made you feel like you didn’t have anything to offer?

Is there an age you were happy to reach that made you feel significant?

Do you have any other “common phrases” like what I refer to as “small talk epic fails” you’d like to share to give us all a laugh?

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