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  • Writer's pictureSam Salerno

My Friends are Old.

My friends are old.

My mom would probably slap me upside the head for saying that, but it's true.

Old in today's verbage doesn't have a positive connotation. Young people don't want to grow old, old people wish they weren't old, and every magazine you see in the grocery store has some new remedy for combatting getting old. Magic tonics, ridiculous exercises, oxygen diets, it's insane.

But in all the hullabaloo of fighting for lost youth and staving off those inevitable wrinkles, I think we miss the strong, lasting beauty that comes from a life long lived.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I meet with a small group of old men who love Jesus. Three of them are pictured up above there. The oldest of the group is 93; the youngest of the group is me at 26; and the remainder of the group is at least 2.5 times my age. I'm the youngest by a long shot and often the brunt of a good couple of jokes, but every time we meet, these men just blow me out of the water.

I could tell some great stories that I've heard from these men, but what happened last night was the epitome of my time with them. As our meeting wrapped up, one of the guys told me that he felt led to pray for me before I left. Apparently, I had said something during our time together that put a check in his spirit. Now, this guy has walked with Jesus longer than I've been alive; he's been through the ringer in life, and by God's grace he's where he's at now. If he says he's feeling called to pray for me, then I'm pretty dang sure it's supposed to happen. So we prayed.

I don't know about you, but deep deep down, I get pretty skeptical in situations like this. I'm learning to let that go a little bit, but my heart kinda clams up when I hear someone saying they have a "word from the Lord" for me and I need to hear it.

But this man's prayer for me...

It was like he was reading my mind, seeing my thoughts and lifting them up in prayer. When we all meet, there's so much life wisdom in the room that I usually keep my mouth and simply listen. You know the saying – we have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak. But the way he prayed for me was like I had been talking to him for hours about what was on my heart.

Prayers for direction in my life, in my work, in my relationships, in my ministry; prayers for comfort and peace and understanding and patience. I felt as if I was getting an emotional and spiritual hug from someone who, in that moment, knew exactly where I was at an had been there himself. I didn't cry, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't on the verge of losing it .

Prayer is prayer is prayer, and that same prayer could have been prayed by any one of my younger friends and I would have been appreciative of it. But to hear the Spirit-filled prayer of an older man – a man who's been in my shoes and knows how things play out – praying for a younger man in that rocks you to your core in a different way. It was like the difference between hearing "You look great!" from a stranger and from your best friend. Both are nice comments. Both are uplifting. But one carries significantly more weight than the other.

As I was driving home from the meeting, it occurred to me that, recently, I've been desiring a deeper sense of community with people my age. The passion, energy, and fun that comes from relationships with people in the same stage of life as you is fantastic; life is HUGE, full of wonder and opportunity.

The more I think about it though, I can only handle so much of that before I get I guess that's a bit of a half-hearted prayer.

I'm actually starting to laugh about it as I write this because it's so true: There are many times when I'd much rather sit and talk with my grandparents in their tiny kitchen instead of going out for another round of beers with my friends. Or sometimes, instead of going to a hipster coffee shop filled with young, beautiful people "doing life together," I'd rather have a cup of beefed up Folgers brewed in a coffee pot that is older than me and lovingly served by my grandma. And to top it all off, I'd rather hear my grandparents talk about how they somehow still enjoy waking up to each other every morning after sharing a bed for 64 years than hear one more newly wed couple giving marriage advice, or conversations about the purpose of marriage or singleness or all that other stuff that young people (particularly in the church) are obsessed with.

There. I said it. I feel better.

That was like an explosion of pent up emotion that just blasted through my fingertips.

This post is kind of all over the place, but I'm at the end. I promise.

You obviously need to have a balance in your social life. You can't just hang out with young people, and you can't just hang out with old people. You'll either never learn from those who've been through life, or you'll get too far ahead of yourself and never take those adventurous first steps into the big wide open world.

So today, in light of all the highly curated social media feeds of your peers having the "time of their lives," spend time with people who have a little bit more wisdom than you. Instead of avoiding people or places because they are "old," dive in and let "old" people show you some life-hacks that got them through the ups and downs of their lives.

You will be better for it.

I know I am.

"Once you stop learning, you start dying" - Albert Einstein


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