Old Couple HandsThere’s a group of young people at our church called Break the Grey who go into the public school systems and hold a school assembly with great media pieces and current music conveying powerful messages in skits. Bill Ballenger gives a talk to the students about anything from teen suicide and drugs to abuse and eating disorders. The students are invited to attend a concert that Thursday where different types of bands play and Ballenger gives a message again, this time introducing them to Jesus. Tens of thousands have been impacted for the better.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to a graduation banquet for six of those interns. I had the honor of sitting next to a sweet, elderly lady. I asked her what brought her to the event and she explained she is a financial supporter of the ministry. I soon realized she was much more than a financial supporter.

The lady’s shaky hands were the first clapping with the loud rock band. Instead of complaints about the volume or crazy lights, she was cheering louder than anyone with the music and the message. As people took the stage to share stories, her feeble shouts of “amen!” and “yes!” never backed down. Finally, when our pastor asked us for financial donations, I heard her twice lean to tell her relative in the most sincere tone, “I wish I could give them more than I have.”

It was my absolute privilege to have been able to sit next to her. Tears welled in my eyes as I thought about the legacy she was leaving through these young adults. As I heard the dozens of elderly in my head condemning secular music, or showy tactics, my heart filled with gratitude for others like this lady.

I made sure to grab her as soon as the night was over. “I just wanted to let you know how great it was for me to meet you. It means so much to me when I see your generation caring and investing in my generation. You are a blessing. Thank you so much!”

She looked and me, thanked me, and as teared came to first her eyes, and then to mine, she said, “There’s just too many young people committing suicide. It has got to stop.”

Wow. A pure heart full of compassion rather than growing cold and jaded over the years.

I pray I have a heart like this when I’m her age. I see how much my generation is so focused and passionate about reaching our generation. That’s great since we’re almost the youngest generation living right now. I just hope and pray that we soon begin to grow increasingly more compassionate for the next generation. They will need that care as much or more than we have needed it.

Since I studied psychology in college, I can be a psych nerd sometimes. Here is one of those times. There is something called Erikson’s stages of development in which eight stages are used to explain a healthy psychosocial development throughout a person’s life. I always thought of these stages as a way to work towards the goal of being content with my life when I come to the end of it.

The last stage is for older adults and is called Wisdom. In this stage, a person either becomes full of despair, or is at peace with feelings of integrity. Which of these happens is largely determined by the previous step for middle-aged adults: Care, where one chooses between generativity or self-absorpsion. This lady I met is still operating out of generativity, leaving a legacy, and I’m very sure will look back on her life, pleased and full of integrity because of it.

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One thought on “Generations

  1. Elizabeth Taylor says:

    The Ballengers are a great family! They have been a part of our church for many years even before we were attending Spirit of Life Church – small world – BIG God!

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