The summer before this last, I attended The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference in Orlando. It was reported then that half the conference attendees were under the age of 40. In my own group of real life friends who made the trip together, of the four of us I was the only one above that age marker. Not only that but of the authors and bloggers I had the privilege to meet in real life there at the conference, all appeared to me younger than their profile pics might indicate. In fact I finally admitted as much to my friend and fellow blogger Staci, exclaiming “Everyone is so young! They all look so much younger than they do online! Wait, it’s the same for me too, right!??!?”
She said so but then again she is my friend and she loves me and thus she may be somewhat prejudiced or at the very least unwilling to hurt my vanity.
My vanity and youthful (or, not) appearance aside, I’ve observed that much that is currently being written to and for and by women seems to be written by the younger generation, those under that 40 year marker. My experience at the conference bore that out as I sought to get a book signed as a gift. “She’s adorable, isn’t she?” my friends and I remarked as the author walked away. And she is. And young. Young and adorable she may be but she is also serious about her craft and using it for kingdom work.
I am excited. I love that there is a generation of young women the Lord is using to reach the world with their words. I applaud their efforts, I seek their wisdom, I buy their books. I have such respect for these young thinkers and theologians, young women earnest about their faith, hungry for the Word, passionate about reaching the world for Christ.
My desire is for women to know and love the Word of God, that knowledge and affection fueling a knowledge and affection for the Lord God Himself. I see that in these young women, in their words, in their blogs, in their determination to spend a weekend in Florida to attend a conference about the gospel.
That being said, I feel keenly the void of the older voices among them. Where are those of us writing from the middle and late years or from grandmotherhood? Be it books, blogs, or tweets, it seems to me we are underrepresented in the world of words and ideas.
Awhile back blogger Tim Challies observed there are more and more women neglecting and even abandoning their blogs (present company included, ahem). I think of his comment often and I wonder if the real question may be where are the older, more “mature” women bloggers?
Tim published a follow up post in which three women offered their explanations for the falling number of women bloggers. Interestingly, all were of the younger set.
I have one friend who recently had her mother to move in with her and her husband and daughter. She purchased a hospital bed as well as renovated a bathroom in order to be able to care for her mom. I have another friend enduring the heartache of a rebellious son, another who hasn’t spoken to her daughter in months. One friend suffers ongoing health problems, nothing life threatening, but the kind of difficulty that is both annoying and debilitating in its own way. Another friend is looking for a job for the first time in many years in order to help with college expenses for her child. Just last week I met a woman whose family has sold everything they own to pay for their son’s drug rehabilitation program.
I offer their examples to say this: a lot of us aren’t writing not because we don’t have anything to say but because we can’t say what we have to say. Not on a public forum. It’s one thing for a mommy blogger to write a post about a two year old’s tantrum at the grocery store; it’s another thing entirely when it’s the rebellion of your twenty something year old, not to mention the heartache and confusion therein.
So to my young writer friends: please, keep writing! Use your words and your platform for the advancement of the kingdom of Christ, yes and amen. As you do so, do not forget the wisdom or experience of the older woman in your life. Maybe she isn’t on Twitter but she may be in your church or your Bible study. Seek her out and be her friend. She needs you and you need her.
To my sisters in the middle and late stages of life: let’s support our younger sisters! And as the Lord may grant us freedom and grace, yes and words, let’s use our voices to fill this void with encouragement and edification. We are not alone in this journey, no matter how heavy our burden or unique our circumstance. Whether our conversation happens online or in real life, we can speak up and speak out in friendship and fellowship.