One email changed my life more than I could have ever imagined. It was sent four and a half years ago to my college community group leader. Someone had reached out to her asking for a babysitter. It was the only night of the week I was free, so naturally, I said yes. Two of the sweetest relationships in my life have come as a result of saying yes to that email. These two relationships are with two of my sisters in Christ in one family: a mom and her eight-year-old daughter.
These relationships reflect the two kinds of people everyone needs in their lives: people who are younger than you and people who are older than you.
People Older Than You
There is such beauty in having people who are ahead of you in life. You need people who are one step ahead of you and a whole block ahead of you. The Lord has shaped me into who I am through being in community with this particular woman for four and half years. She invited me into her life and showed me what it looks like to live out the gospel in marriage and parenting, speak truth in grace, and walk humbly with the Lord. She weeps and rejoices with me through suffering and victory.
She displays attributes of God that I naturally struggle with. I am comfortable in confrontation and able to speak hard truth very easily. However a couple years ago, I would share truth in a way that was seemingly absent of love. I tell people the truth because I love them, but I am prone to forget that God speaks tenderly to us. Although I love them, it doesn’t sound like it. I have grown immensely in speaking the truth in love because of this friendship. I am more like Jesus because I am around someone who is more like Jesus than I am.
People Younger Than You
Just like you can learn something for someone older about what it’s like to follow Jesus, the same is true of people younger than you. Also, you have great opportunity to teach them what you know about Jesus. It sounds ridiculous at times, but I can honestly say one of my sweetest friends is eight years old…and she loves Jesus. I’ve learned much about the joy of following Jesus and the work of the Spirit by watching her life. I’ve seen her cry in conviction of her sin and celebrate how grateful she is that her babysitter also loves Jesus. We’ve danced and shouted about her friends coming to Kids Week and confessed our pride to God together.
I’ve been able to disciple her in small and beautiful ways over the past four and a half years. Every night I babysit, we pray together for each other’s sins, each other’s needs, and a country that doesn’t have access to the gospel. A couple weeks ago, a missionary family was visiting and their daughter had a sleepover with my sweet, younger friend. Apparently, my girl asked her friend what they could be praying about and then spent time praying with her. Her mom told me it happened and said that she did that because it was something we’d done together. I almost started crying!
Having people a couple steps ahead or behind in life is essential, but it’s also necessary to have people way ahead of you and way behind you. College students need kids. Moms with young kids need moms with teenagers. Young professionals need retirees. We need to see more of the Lord through people He has made in His image that display what we do not. I’m forever grateful for that one email that gave me this four and a half years ago.
-Greta Griswold (College Team)