Respect Your Elders: An Open Apology to the Previous Generations

Cool Dad's grandma. 89 years of cool.

Up until the age of 18, most of us are under the authority of the previous generations. They are our teachers, our lunch ladies, our pastors, and our parents.

Then we break free, cut our ties, and start building our lives without them.

Speaking for myself, I think I went too far with it. It took me about 31 years to realize that I am guilty of being a bit of an ageist in my thoughts toward the previous generations. I guess I’ve been a little paranoid about someone coming around telling me, a girl who was CLEARLY wise beyond her years, what to do. 

Thankfully, God put me in my place by bringing two cool-beyond-measure 60-somethings into my life. This is after quite of few years of not having any nearby to befriend me. (And hmm….I wonder why any would not want to befriend someone so wise as me?) These two women have blessed my life incredibly! They were an answer to a prayer I never prayed.

I’ve gone from stereotyping the Baby Boomers and their predecessors, to having my heart leap when I spot silver hair among a crowd. (Sidenote: I personally think the trend I see all over NYC of women letting their hair go completely silver is awesome!) I’ve gone back to hug some teachers I had in high school. I’ve also gained a whole new appreciation for my own parents and how they have influenced me in such powerful ways. I am indebted!

And so, on behalf of my generation, I present an open apology to the previous generations:

The Past

  • We have to admit, when we left home we thought we would never need you again.
  • We stuffed 18 years of your investment into us into our bags as if we had earned it somehow.
  • We didn’t look back as we rode away to start our own lives.
  • The times we did look back, we looked down on you for not doing things the way we would have done them.
  • We only came to you in desperate moments–coming in, taking advantage of you, and then leaving you with a broken heart.
  • We were offended if you were not available at a moment’s notice.
  • We started our own families without you.
  • We even started our own churches without you.

The Present

  • And now we face a humbling reality: we are a mess without you!
  • Every day we are trying to reinvent a wheel that you could probably tell us how to build in 5 seconds, given the opportunity.
  • Your wisdom and life experience is something that cannot be replaced by extensive Google searches.
  • Your stories are jewels that could illuminate our lives, inspire us, and show us what’s really important.

Our Glaring Mistakes

  • We have disrespected you.
  • We’ve judged you.
  • We’ve shut you down and made you believe you have nothing to offer our generation.
  • We’ve tried to convince you to leave your identity behind and be like us. (Except for those of us who are hipsters, of course.)
  • The only seat we’ve offered you is the one in front of our podium, where we tell you how we think things should be and how you messed things up for us.
  • We look around to our peers to find a replacement for you.
  • But it’s usually the blind leading the blind.
  • It’s only by God the Father’s grace and mercy that we have gotten this far without asking for your help.
  • Some of us haven’t realized it yet.
  • Some of us are ashamed to admit it, so we put on a good act.

But, I will let you in on our secret. Past our walls of pride, something deep in our hearts wants to hear these words from you:

Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Psalm 34:11

Will you please forgive us?
Will you give us another chance? All of us?
Will you have mercy on us, remembering the days you may have done the same thing?
Will you please make your way into our lives and our churches and our families?
Will you amaze us with your love, that treats us as adults but also watches out for us as children?
We like that!

Don’t let us get you down.
You’re not done changing the world.

One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.
Psalm 145:4

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