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  • Malisa Payne

Battling Your Inner Ageist

I sat late Tuesday night with this bright light of a woman. She is a truly gifted speaker and being in conversation with her leaves you amazed and astonished. I have been given the opportunity to engage in these conversations with Sarah often. I see her so clearly that what she shared with me was surprising.

She said, "As I age people don't see me. I am a middle aged, overweight, white woman and I am experiencing ageism." This phenomenon was something I had no personal experience with, being 30-something myself.

Sarah is a beautiful, intelligent, professional woman. She beams with confidence. She owns a company that specializes in training corporate employees to communicate effectively. Her faith in Jesus is attractive. Her spirit of love and compassion fill a room every time she walks in. Yet she described with honest detail how, when she is in the company of others and she is not in a managerial role, she is overseen. She described entering places of work and not having one person notice her until her title is announced.

"Their eyes just gloss right over me," she says. "The older I get, the less significance people initially place on me." She continues, "I feel I might finally be experiencing what some of the marginalized experience."

These words hit me. It was evident by my facial expression that I was awakening to the truth of my failing. She was so patient with me as I gathered myself up and confessed that I overlook goodness every day. I was struck with the realization that in my limited ideals of what I find interesting, I overlook people.

Then the sad truth of all I've missed sunk in. There were many unopened gifts of humanity that I just passed by. I have since asked God for forgiveness for my lack of awe in his creation and for my pride in thinking that people who are most like me have the greatest value.

I am so grateful for Sarah. Her honesty and vulnerability left an impression on me. I couldn't help but respond with compassion and take an inventory of the worth I place on others. This is the type of awakening I want to have on a regular basis. How about you? Consider regular lunches with your neighbors and co-workers that are twice your age. How can we leave our hearts open and eyes wide?

On Age and Commitment, by Oswald McCall:

"As year adds to year, that face of yours, which once lay smooth in your baby crib, like an unwritten page, will take to itself lines, and still more lines, as the parchment of an old historian who jealously sets down all the story. And there, more deep than acids etch the steel, will grow the inscribed narrative of your mental habits, the emotions of your heart, your sense of conscience, your response to duty, what you think of your God and your fellowmen and of yourself. It will all be there. For men become like that which they love, and the name of thereof is written on their brows."


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