Writing from the middle years. Or, not.

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.

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Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

19 thoughts on “Writing from the middle years. Or, not.”

  1. Two thoughts come to mind as I read this:

    1.) Thank you for not discouraging young women writers but encouraging them to use their gifts for God’s glory.

    2.) I have often bemoaned this reality to friends. I believe that both young and old(er) women have much to contribute to the church and should seek to serve in whatever capacity they are able to. However, there is no denying that Christian publishers are businesses and youth sells. I think that social media has had a huge impact on this. When I think back to 10 years ago, most material written for women WAS written by older, more mature women. But now, that is not the norm at all. I think that is because these days young women are able to build a platform through blogging, where they never would have been able to before. And in our current culture (even the Christian culture), a young, reformed, attractive, marketable woman garners more twitter followers, builds a bigger “platform,” and in the end, sells more books. We are obsessed with youth. I think this is a very sad reality as it robs young women of the opportunity to hear from those who have actually come out the other side of motherhood, marriage, etc… not just those who are in the middle of it. It also sets an unhelpful mentality for those who ARE older, who wonder if they are still relevant to the church (Which of course is a huge, YESSSSS!!! Please!!!!)

    This is not, however, to say that young women should not write or have books published. There are many young authors that I’ve benefited from immensely and whose wisdom is evidence of the Lord’s grace and desire to edify the church. I just wish that publishers took life experience, and faithfulness to the church as seriously as they do Twitter followers. The church would be better for it, but perhaps not the publishers’ pocket books.

    I’m very thankful for older women who faithfully seek to build the body through their blogs, because their blogs offer so much that us younger women cannot.

    So, all that to say, PLEASE, please keep writing and continue to ponder how you can stir up the body of Christ, both old and young alike. I love to read your posts.

    Also, I definitely thought you looked infinitely more young and cute and adorable and beautiful in person than your profile pic. 🙂 Meeting you at TGC was one of the highlights of the conference for me.

    1. And, in saying “more young and cute and adorable and beautiful” I am not saying that you don’t look those things in your profile picture… But rather, that you somehow looked even MORE young an cute and adorable and beautiful… Just realized that that could have come off in a way I didn’t mean it to. I love you. 😛

      1. Love this. Love you. Thank you for this! And not just for the compliment–though I’m pretty sure you are now if not before my BFF always–but for the thoughtful insight. I agree with your thoughts and I appreciate the encouragement to keep thinking about this topic.

  2. This is very thoughtful, Lisa. At 41 I feel a little lost in the middle years. I’m too old to write a mommy blog yet I am still in the throws of motherhood. I find myself writing less and dealing with the mess of life more on a tangible level. Perhaps we need to push out of the mindset of writing about the how-to’s of life and focus more on the beauty of Christ and the gospel. That is a message that spans all generations. Keep going!

  3. I am an almost 44 year old reformed gospel blogger. The majority of women that write in to me with questions or comments are almost always younger than I am. In fact, the posts that I have written that have ‘gone viral’ are mostly filled with subject matter regarding the younger crowd. I have often wondered about this myself.

    As a person who has had the blessing of sitting under great reformed teaching, and who is speaking to a much younger audience, I have enjoyed being able to write about the application of the gospel into all of our lives, young and old alike. And I try to do that in a simple way, still filling the message with deep theology without it being obvious.

    I also have felt like a loner out there amidst the young mommy bloggers. I think you hit the nail on the head regarding the reasons why. Many of my fellow sisters that I know personally would not have the time or ability to sit down and do the hard work of writing with all the added responsibilities and health issues that come with being an older woman.

    I also think the world of blogs and reading online is something the younger generations are a part of that many older women in their 50’s and 60’s are still catching on to. My mom for instance just shared with me a conversation that she had with her friends about trying to figure out Facebook so they could have more interactions with their grandkids. So I think there are many factors at play. But yes, we definitely have a need for older women bloggers. I would love to see that happen. As we older women all know, time goes so fast! And soon these young mommy bloggers will be in their 40’s as well. The generation behind us may be filling in the gap before we know it.

    1. I definitely agree that the younger among us are better equipped to navigate the world of social media, which has become the new standard for platform and perceived effectiveness. So, yes, so many factors, from social media savvy to life issues to how women’s ministry has been modeled in many churches. I appreciate your insight here. You’ve given me much to ponder. I pray the conversation continues and many women like yourself continue to speak out, giving voice to the mature stage of life.

  4. Thank you Lisa. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am 49 years old and my experience bears out your witness.

    I cannot tell you how tired I am of “Ladies ministries” that alternate between sorority silliness and canned questionable lectures on women’s roles and the family. I could just weep about it. Wait a minute, I have already.

    I found your end paragraph very telling.
    ” To my sisters in the middle and late stages of life: let’s support our younger sisters! ”
    Frankly, why limit ourselves to just them?? Are there not women in your life who are older and need encouragement to push themselves to excel in the body of Christ? I certainly am tired of people trying to put me on a shelf and I imagine it is worse for others.

    Sometimes, I find that as sincere as the younger women bloggers and writers may be, I would rather wait to hear what they are saying in 30 years. There is no amount of energy and sincerity that can make up for experience, wisdom and godly sanctification.

    Thanks for making me think this morning. God bless you in your work.

    1. Thank you for your comment. My encouragement to support our younger sisters was framed in the context of the post about the numbers of younger women writing about the gospel be it blogs or books. I have in mind young authors like Aimee Byrd, Trillia Newbell, Gloria Furman and others. As I said in the post I am excited about women writing and using their gifts and their words to advance the kingdom. By no means did I intend to suggest that this is the only encouragement we can offer nor the only group deserving of our attention. Yes, yes, yes, YES, let’s encourage all women to use whatever gifts granted to them and whatever sphere of influence the Lord has placed them in. That is, I hope, the point and the lament of my post. I appreciate your input; you in turn have made me think and I like that!

  5. I so deeply appreciate your thoughts Lisa. I am a 53 year old, recent empty nester (raising 5) and recently enrolled in seminary as a “later in life” learner! I have been teaching women as part of our women’s ministry leadership team at my non-denominational church for approximately 12 years and have a profound passion for sharing God’s word and seeing women flourish walking in a deeper, fully awareness of their identity in Christ and the implications of the gospel that can transform every realm of our lives. With the demands of raising my quiver over the last many years, and ministry at my church, time did not allow me to enter the blogger world. I have been wondering if now might be my time? Your post reminds me that God indeed may be nudging me towards that. I do deeply relish the opportunities God has provided in the last couple years for me to mentor and influence younger women in their 20’s and 30’s.
    I personally am so grateful for 40+ voices such as Nancy Guthrie, Kathleen Nielson and Elyse Fitzpatrick who have greatly mentored me through their speaking and writing!

    1. I too am grateful for Nancy and Kathleen and Elyse! They serve as examples and mentors to me. Whether or not you make the plunge into the world of blogging, I am confident the Lord can and will use you to influence the younger women in your life. That is awesome! If you do begin a blog, be sure to let me know!

  6. I feel like the cell phone has made us more available to our young adult children than ever before. Also, as our parents begin to age, they need more of our time. Add to it the fact that as we age, we don’t have the physical and emotional energy we had in our 20 and 30’s and basically, we are just plain tired.

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