To the “little old lady” working at the clothing store:

Thank you for graciously allowing me to browse the store after closing time. You opened a changing stall and told me I looked great in the mustard blouse.

I don’t think you realized the gift you gave me, allowing a slightly worn-out mom the chance to shop without her little ones.

When I made my purchases I thanked you, saying you were the nicest person who worked there.

Your eyes glistened with emotion. In a rare moment of vulnerability between strangers, you confessed, “Sometimes I just feel like a little old lady who can’t do much.”

I wish I could have gripped you by the hand, looked deep into your eyes, and set you straight.

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Your hair may have lost its original color and you no longer work in the career you once trained for, but we still need you.

You may no longer say bedtime prayers with your children at night, and you have no idea how to log into a Zoom call meeting, but we still need you.

We need you to teach us how to get our cinnamon buns to rise and tell us why our tomato plants keep dying.

We need you to quilt blankets for our newborns and care for our toddlers when we need an afternoon just to breathe.

We need you to invite us over for Thanksgiving dinner when we’re far from home and offer counsel when we ask.

We need you to meet us for coffee and let us cry as we share our struggles in marriage and motherhood.

We need you to express your creativity on the canvas and your poetry on the page.

We need you to teach us how to work hard and persevere when life doesn’t turn out the way it should.

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We need your expertise and knowledge, your life experience and passions.

We need you to share testimonies of God’s goodness and model for us how to suffer well.

To all the “little old ladies” in my life, I want to reach out and squeeze your hand and tell you this:

Your life is purposeful not only because of what you have done, but because of what you are still doing, and what you are yet to do.

Your impact may be small and ordinary or it may be public and far-reaching. Either way, you are needed.

Retirement isn’t synonymous with done; it is just another way of saying redirected.

The accumulation of years does not render you irrelevant. Wrinkles and sunspots do not diminish your beauty. Weight and aches do not alter your usefulness.

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You have qualities women my age don’t have yet:

Perspective, which is gained through years of life experience.

Character, which is acquired through suffering and perseverance.

Patience, which is nurtured with time.

We need you.

You are not just a little old lady.

Shara-Rae Jansen

Shara-Rae is a stay-at-home mom to two adventurous boys. Whenever she's not parenting, she is at her local coffee shop with a book and a laptop. There is nothing Shara-Rae enjoys more than meaningful conversations over coffee, walking with her family along forest trails, and creating. For more encouragement in experiencing contentment in Christ, you can follow her on Instagram at @shararaejansen.