When I turned 30 (a few moons ago now), I remember being told by a woman older than me at our church, that she was shocked I was only 30. I was, of course, a little offended. Did I look old? No, she reassured me, I sounded old in the way I spoke. I sounded wise. Like I knew what I was talking about.
I laughed. No one had ever said I was wise. I wasn't actually thinking that anyone really ever took much notice of what I said. I just rambled on and hoped for the best. (Not much has changed I hear you say!)
However, I was struck at that time of the responsibility of my words. What words, if someone was actually going to listen to what I was saying, were they going to hear? Would they hear positive words or complaining words? Contented words or discontented words? Words of substance or fluff? Words of gossip or words of encouragement? It was challenging to suddenly consider the power of what I said.
And I'm still thinking about the power of my words. While I'm not sure that I am strictly an 'older woman' in the sense that the Bible uses it (woman who is past child-bearing age with older children), I have often found myself in contexts where I'm a more mature Christian, or I've been married longer or my kids are older. It is a bit scary when someone quotes back to me something I've said in the past.
If you know me personally, you'll know that there is much work to be done on this topic - many words with lots of rambling and complaining still seem to be coming out! But recognising that what I say actually does matter to others and does impact on others is hugely important.