Afew months ago, I attended the Laura Isaacs Appreciation Barbecue. Laura's a coworker at the newspaper where I work. At 24, she lives with her cat, Spock, and loves Hello Kitty and ballerina flats.
I don't remember what was going on in Laura's life at the time—boyfriend problems, I think. The impromptu barbecue to celebrate Laura was fellow coworkers Cristy and Shemir's idea, and it took place at Cristy's apartment.
Cristy made about ten pounds of potato salad and enough hamburger patties to feed 25 people—even though only 8 from our workplace attended. Shemir was the only one of us who'd ever lit a barbecue fire before, so she did the honors. Cheri brought a cake she made using a Southern Living recipe, and someone else brought the High School Musical version of the board game Mystery Date. And I brought a tube of chocolate chip cookie dough to eat raw—because that's what you do at an appreciation barbecue for a friend who needs some appreciation.
I felt honored to be included in this circle of young women who are my daughters' ages. We played Mystery Date (Shemir won) and Apples to Apples. We laughed a lot and told Laura how much we appreciated her. Cristy even made a "Hooray Laura!" banner by stringing together individual letters cut from magazine pages.
After I left, the rest of the guests played music and danced until way past my 53-year-old body's bedtime.
Although I consider these young women work friends, I'd almost stayed home. Being more than twice their age, I hadn't thought I'd fit in at their party. But I wanted Laura to know I appreciate her, too, so I went, but hesitantly. The young women welcomed me as one of their own, letting me into their lives and asking to be a part of mine.
We all come from various parts of the country and have different histories and unique stories. Their Generation Y worldview is vastly different from my Baby Boomer perspective. Their ideas on faith and the Bible differ in varying degrees from mine as well. But we, a mish-mash group of coworkers, are knitting ourselves together as genuine friends.
From them I get a clearer sense of how my daughters might think. At lunch, when my coworkers bemoan their mothers' intrusions into their lives, I make mental notes: Don't call my daughters so often. Don't assume they don't know how to solve their problems themselves.
And my young work friends listen to me when I speak from a mom's point of view. One day, after Cristy's mom had called her at the office for the fourth time, Cristy pounded her desk. "Does she think I'm 12?!" she cried.
"Yes, she does," I told her. "She doesn't mean to, but she can't help it. We moms have trouble thinking of our babies as grown women."
Titus 2 talks about older women teaching and training younger women in matters of home and family—and life. Such relationships have great value, and I appreciate the older women from whom I still learn.
But I also appreciate younger women in my life. Unlike my generation, with its "Lone Ranger" tendencies, their generation understands the importance of community. I continually marvel at how community is second nature to them; I find myself drawn to how they do life together.
I have so much to learn from them, so much to appreciate about them. My life's richer because it includes people who aren't just like me.
As iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen one another, says Proverbs 27:17. I, for one, am grateful to have these young women in my life to sharpen my dull edges, accept me as an equal, value me as an elder, and teach me how to be a friend.
Does your circle of friends include those of varying ages, ethnic backgrounds, economic levels, and religious beliefs? If so, how have you benefited from it? What kinds of challenges have you tackled?
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