It was a weekend I will not soon forget. Just the previous night, I was out with a bunch of twenty- and thirtysomethings celebrating my cousin’s bachelor party. Then Saturday afternoon rolled around, much sooner than I would have liked, and I had to prepare to serve senior citizens. My day and night could not have been more different.
I had only a few hours of sleep before my alarm went off, telling me to get up. A part of wanted to stay in bed, but I really had no say in the matter. I had to re-up my strength to prepare for that special day, for it was a day that would feature a full-blown event to celebrate the wonderful and ever-young grandpas and grandmas of our church. No matter how tired my body was or would be, my spirit would be revitalized at just the thought of the privilege I had to serve this amazing group of people, a group that holds a special place in my heart.
A couple from our church, Drawlon and Daisy, hosted the event at their home. They, along with several adult volunteers, would prepare everything from the food to the decorations to even the surprise entertainment of the night (hula dancers!). I would be simply assisting with whatever it was that they needed. That day, several of the adults ran around to cook, coordinate, decorate, serve, and bless the twenty or so seniors that appeared before us.
From an outsiders’ perspective, it is easy to conclude that the work that went into the event paid off. The food was spectacular–it was like something straight out of Top Chef–the games and entertainment were top-notch, and the fellowship was meaningful. And I could spend hours just writing on the details of those things alone.
But it ultimately wasn’t about the show. It was about seeing the smiles on their faces and hearing the laughter come from people who have learned to appreciate every second, every breath of life. It was about experiencing the joy of expressing to them their value and worth as individuals and what significance and meaning they add to our world.
The seniors’ impact can be traced to the very origins of Lifesong Community Church. When I first joined the church about five years ago, the seniors made up about half of our church. It was them and a bunch of young families. There were no young singles, no one my age. Though I was initially discouraged, I stuck it through because I felt it was my place. It didn’t take long for me to learn each and every senior by name. Auntie Kai. Auntie Mae. Uncle Ken. Carole, Earl, Hach, Wanda, Linda, and Cherry. They would welcome me every week with warm and genuine smiles. They would ask me if I could use some prayer. And each time they asked, I knew they meant it.
It’s funny when I hear that some of these seniors feel and think they are useless. Sure, they might feel less energetic and experience more aches and pains. But these are also the same people who would be folding the programs, putting up chairs, setting up the snack table, and greeting church newcomers. They tell me they are useless and I tell them that Lifesong would not be what it is today without them–the seniors are the backbone of our church.
I’m glad I didn’t go anywhere else. I’m glad I didn’t bail on those days when the loneliness of my journey started to feel overwhelming. Because this church is about family. And family isn’t just all young couples or adults. It includes the crying babies and crazy uncles and grandpas, too. Family means you get to grow and learn to love one another. And you stick together, through both the good and the bad.
Now, we have about more than a dozen young singles at our church. Not a lot compared to some churches, but it’s still something. Because I started out on my own, I’ve learn to appreciate each one of them. The best part about not having them as my crutch in the beginning? I got to really know my seniors.
And their stories are amazing, more than words can say.