Linking Arms, Joining Hearts
by Sophie Hudson
It was last January, I think, when my friend Mary Jo asked if I’d like to ride to the beach with her and her dear friend Jeannette. We were all planning to attend a local church’s weekend women’s retreat in Gulf Shores, and since I hadn’t even begun to work out my travel arrangements, I was delighted by Mary Jo’s invitation. I mean, sure, I like to pretend that I’m super-organized and on top of things, but the truth is that my day-to-day demeanor falls somewhere between Cuckoo Town Banana Pants and Flailing About Like My Hair Is On Fire. So for someone to take the logistics of a trip off of my hands and provide transportation?
I accept your kind offer.
My crazy and I are more appreciative than you know.
And in addition to the fact that traveling with Mary Jo and Jeannette removed an item from my ever-present mental to-do list, there was one more bonus: a long stretch of uninterrupted road (and time!) with two dear friends who are a generation ahead of me.
Mary Jo and Jeannette, you see, are both in their 70s. And while I don’t mean to blow you away with my rock-solid math skills, that means they’re 30-ish years older than I am. Both of them have become trusted, treasured voices in my life, and each time I’m with them I’m reminded how important—how vital—it is to step across generational lines and connect with other women.
Here are a few reasons why.
- Scripture shows us the blessing of cross-generational friendships. Even though our churches sometimes err on the side of same-age, same-stage silos, Scripture clearly illustrates the benefits of reaching out to the women ahead of us and behind us. From Mary and Elizabeth to Ruth and Naomi to Eunice and Lois, we’re fortunate to see examples of women who encouraged each other, instructed each other and worked together as they walked out their callings. Culture might tell us to compete and compare—to criticize how one generation tends to do this or another age group is prone to do that—but Scripture shows us women who blessed and honored one another across generational lines. There’s no doubt that we are desperate for each other’s perspectives, even if we don’t always realize it.
- Voices of wisdom remind us what really matters. I will never forget one night about eight years ago when I went to Mary Jo’s house for Bible study. Suppertime at my house hadn’t gone very well that evening; if memory serves, I’d gone toe-to-toe with a very stubborn five-year-old who had suddenly developed a strong sense of opposition to peas. So when I got to Mary Jo’s, I recounted the whole ordeal in what I’m sure was excruciating detail. She listened so carefully as I told the story, and when I finally reached the conclusion of all the peas-related details, she looked me in the eyes, smiled, and said, “He’s going to be fine. You’re going to be fine. This is all so normal. Everybody is going to be fine.” Within a minute she had diffused a situation that had gotten totally blown out of proportion in my mind, and by the time I drove home that night, I felt like a normal, functioning, not-terrible mama again. Her experience with her three children—the wisdom from her days in the trenches, so to speak—infused her words with quiet authority, and it did my heart good to hear them.
- We can fill each other’s relational gaps. You know what would be awesome? If every woman’s background included a healthy family life, life-giving friendships and an unshakeable understanding of her identity in Christ. However, real life doesn’t work that way, and since we’re always—ALWAYS—in the process of working out our salvation, we need the support, affirmation, honesty and perspective of other women. Older women who have spent many years with the Lord can counsel (and sometimes caution) us, and younger women in the faith can spur us on with their zeal and enthusiasm. Crossing generational lines also gives us opportunities to share the Gospel with women of all ages who might not know the Lord, to give them a safe place to express their hopes and doubts and struggles and dreams. We need each other so desperately, and we are meant to walk through this life together. Life is so much richer when people are our priority.
My car ride with Mary Jo and Jeannette was everything I hoped it would be—and more. We covered some significant conversational ground, to say the least. We talked about our families, our churches, our favorite TV shows and our deep and abiding affection for Trader Joe’s. We prayed together, laughed so hard we clapped our hands and listened with our hearts as well as our ears.
In lots of ways, I guess, it was just an ordinary road trip.
But as I soaked up the company of those precious friends?
I couldn’t help but give thanks to our extraordinary God.
It’s so sweet of Him to give us the gift of each other.
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” Romans 12:10 (ESV).
Sophie Hudson loves to laugh more than just about anything. A blogger, author and college sports fanatic who recently released her third book (Giddy Up, Eunice), she lives with her husband and son in Birmingham, Alabama.
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