wsFJP_k" /> Spiritual Poems by Nicholl: Thoughts & Prayers to Encourage & Convict: Older Women: How to Relate to Younger Women


Older Women: How to Relate to Younger Women

You see them, younger women, decorated with the latest fashions, giggling amongst friends, tossing their hair, shifting their body in ways that taunt men, and some of you either reflect on your youth when you see them or turn away in disgust passing judgment. As one older woman put it, “Older women you had your day too!” That’s right and some older women are still having “their day” even if they look ridiculous doing it. Gray hair, lines, wrinkles, age spots, and other signs that come with age just doesn’t flatter an outfit that was specifically designed for a young woman in her twenties. But some women try very hard to fit in with the younger crowd rather than be an example. So what is it that older women should be doing or saying to usher the younger women into maturity other than scolding them or gossiping about them? You will find answers to this question in the Book of Ruth, as quoted from the New King James Bible.

For those of you who are not familiar with the story, to summarize it briefly, it is a story about a relationship between a daughter-in-law and a mother-in-law. The mother-in-law, Naomi, lost her husband and sons to death which resulted in her two daughters-in-law and herself becoming widows. After her husband and sons passing, Naomi, decided that she would return to her hometown without her daughters-in-law. According to the scripture, she tells them, “Go return each to her mother’s house. The Lord deal kindly with you as, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” Ruth 1:8. But her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, objected. They said to her, “Surely we will return with you to your people.” Ruth 1:10. After reading this biblical text, one can reason that in preset days, when it comes to not only relationships similar to this one between in-laws, but also with older and younger women, that older women are telling younger women, “You can’ t go with me. Go find a man and leave me alone.” You see, these older women have had heartbreaking issues, just as Naomi did, in their lives from dealing with health related problems due to age to partners running away with younger women or even dying and all these older women want is to be left alone! What they don’t realize is through their pain they can be a blessing to these younger women which we see later in the passages of scripture.

So Orpah and Ruth aren’t taking Naomi’s subtle rejection lightly. But Naomi isn’t giving into them easily and tries to provide them with the benefits of not going along with her on her trip back home. Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husband’s? ‘Turn back, my daughters, go – for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons, would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone against me!” Ruth 1:11-13. Sometimes older women provide a list of reasons as to why they can’t or won’t do something, just as Naomi did with her daughters-in-law. The old adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” seems to be befitting here since she is acting stubbornly. Although as intelligent as the reasons may sound that Naomi gives her daughters-in-law, the information is useless to the younger women. With all the years of life experience, some older women tend to avoid opportunities to share life lessons with younger women. Like Naomi, they will reject younger women in subtle ways or boldly.

Eventually, Naomi’s efforts successfully turned one young woman away and that was Orpah. The Bible says that she cried, kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. Ruth 1:14. Sometimes an older woman’s reactions will push a younger woman away rather than draw her near. However, Ruth wasn’t buying into Naomi’s rhetoric. There are young women who are in older women’s lives clinging to them! These older women have done everything to try to keep them away! Whether she is the girlfriend of the son, the young co-worker, the relative or the neighbor, she keeps coming around the older woman. Some younger women may be a nuisance to the older women by doing the following: calling her on the phone, repeatedly asking to go out to lunch with them, following them to an event, or even sitting beside them in church making small talk when they rather be left alone. Naomi told Ruth after she clung to her, “Look your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” It is safe to say that God had ordered Ruth’s steps to stay with Naomi just as that nuisance of a younger woman today has been ordered to stay in the presence of the older woman. So after rejecting her daughter-in-law, Naomi did in this next passage of scripture what older women should be doing today, she listened to Ruth. “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you will die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” After Ruth responded to Naomi’s rejection, the Bible says she stopped speaking to her. Sometimes an older woman will have to stop resisting the efforts a younger woman is making to befriend her!

The biblical story of Ruth and Naomi’s relationship, a younger woman and an older woman, should be an inspiration to those of you who think that you must only have relationships with women your own age. Ruth’s youthful energy is evident as you read more scripture; she actually worked in the field and brought what she earned back to Naomi. Naomi realized the blessing she had in Ruth. Some older women have been missing out on wonderful opportunities both personally and professionally, because they just don’t realize the gold mine they can receive when partnering with some younger women! She may be the connection that will give you the following: a husband, the increase in income that you have been praying about, the companion that you need to attend functions, and so much more! Naomi received Ruth and realized the many blessings she was due to gain in the future. A relative bought a field from Naomi as a result of her teaching Ruth.  In addition, her daughter-in-law was a good listener and received wise counsel from her elder. When an older woman takes the time to teach a younger woman a few things about life, she may gain from the teaching that she has given to the younger woman.

Naomi and Ruth’s relationship is an exceptional example of how older women and younger women should relate to one another. If older women followed this biblical teaching, there would be less eye rolling, gossiping, and angry feelings toward younger women. If one cannot be a blessing to those around them, then it is better to just stop speaking and do more listening as Naomi did with Ruth in the beginning of their relationship.

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