Every so often in conversations I find myself about to say something like “I used to…” Maybe the same urge comes to the surface in your conversations? If completed, the sentence would recount some skill or experience from our past that might be relevant to the subject at hand. Perhaps some part of our storied histories could add personal notes that would enrich the conversation. Perhaps our faith witness could instruct or assure someone else.
Usually I suppress that impulse, though, because I sense that my self-revelation may also be tinged with my need for admiration—and perhaps not all that germane to the subject at hand. This would probably not be helpful to others—they’re most likely able to figure out things by themselves.
There are times when I wonder if some of my life experiences would be helpful. That the knowledge and skills that God has granted me might warrant my judicious sharing with others. That some of what I used to do might fit today’s contexts.
Because these are confusing, uncertain and anxious times, my past capabilities might benefit folks finding a way past their worries. Or leaders seeking historical perspective. Maybe searchers looking for mentors/teachers. Perhaps in situations like these there’s wisdom in completing the “I used to…” mental prompt. In those circumstances, why would I hold back?
I don’t know exactly the best way to answer that question, so most of the time I keep my history to myself. It feels unseemly or inappropriate to insert my life experiences into conversations. If I’m asked, though, I’ll gladly share.
In all this, I am thankful for older adults who shared their life experiences—some of them unique and some of them ordinary—so that I can live my older adult years joyfully.