In honor of the tenth anniversary of Red Tent Living, we are featuring a monthly legacy post written by one of our regular contributors from the past decade. Dr. Natasha Stevens was one of the first women of color to say to yes to writing for us. She was a life-giving source of wisdom, encouragement, and joy. She passed on to Jesus in October 2022, and we miss her voice and her “yes” energy daily. This post originally appeared in September 2018.
Where had the summer gone? Faced with so many responsibilities, I walked to the edge of the shore and curled the sand back with my toes. On the surface of the water, I watched my reflection converge with my shadow on the sand. I’m sure I looked silly, standing there watching the kids play, attempting to keep up with them.
Where did my rhythm go? I was a very good dancer, but for some reason, I could not keep up. One of the kids said, “You’re just getting older.”
My ego was bruised until a young lady walked up, held my hand, ushered me deeper into the ocean, and shouted, “No, she’s not old. She’s just wiser now. She’s taken the lessons, the hits, the heartaches, the losses, and the wins, and cast them at the feet of Jesus. She’s much less opinionated now. Her glory has become her grace.”
Wow! How could a 14-year-old have so much lady-like wisdom?
I invited her to sit with me to help me unlearn some of the things about wisdom, aging, and life that I was taught and had erringly taught others in return. The simple profundity of her words pierced my soul and anchored my heart. She explained that, as women, we’ve struggled with an age complex because we’ve tried to master it instead of mimicking the ebbs and flows of the ocean. “Just rock with it,” she said. “Faith…it’s not too late.”
She reassured me that I had accomplished a lot, seen more than anyone she’d ever met, and still managed to get up everyday without scrutinizing myself as women my age tend to do. I asked her if I looked silly wearing the latest fashion, on the beach of all places. With a warm smile, she said, “Mermaids don’t question their tails. Why are you looking behind?”
Past insecurities, rejections, abandonments, immaturities, and ponderings paddled their way out to the depths of the sea until I could no longer see them. I became my kind of lady-like.
Standing on the surfboard, I lifted my hands in the air and screamed at the top of my lungs: “She is BACK!” The wave came and I rode it. My inner, courageous 14-year-old girl was back, fiercer than ever and open to learning new things about herself.
Three minutes in, a fisherman caught my eye. He stood there, motionless but in full intensity. Spinning around on my board, I asked him if he was okay and if he needed help because he seemed older and alone. His brilliant skin coordinated with his glistening smile, and he said, “Everything isn’t what it seems. You, too, started this new chapter hearing the word ‘old.’ You saw me here appearing old. That’s a projection you need to release.”
The waves crashed over my head, and I landed underneath the board, looking up to the sky. In that moment, I waved to my former “I” with a benedictory goodbye! Good riddance to perceptions of age, wisdom, what’s “lady-like,” and what isn’t.
I’m waxing my board today and pondering what women could accomplish if we bravely questioned what we’ve been taught and walked in the wisdom locked away in our 14-year-old girls. Each day is a gift. Live in the now and wow yourselves because you’re worthy.
There are fine lines between age and wisdom.
We have the right to stand boldly in who we are, capturing life’s most eloquent, awkward, captivating, and breathtaking moments in a world that wishes to silence us.
Turn back the hands of time and see how brilliantly you have navigated storms. Remind yourself that grace met you on every wave and that you are the glory that everyone is seeking but not all are seeing. Go from strength to strength and smile. Embrace every new wrinkle with a wink and walk in your inheritance. Now that’s lady like!
The child in you doesn’t want you to adult today. Learn with her, and heed her wisdom. Oh, and you’re the fisherman too—washed in wisdom by an all-inclusive God. He sees you perfectly as you are.
Natasha Stevens was passionate about humanitarian efforts ranging from empowering girls and women through education, writing, counseling, and speaking engagements, to hands on mission’s work in various places, including the eradication of forced child labor and early marriage through human trafficking. She loved a hearty laugh in summer gardens as much as a healthy bowl of oats in winter. She enjoyed interacting with people from all walks of life, giving back where needed, and ministering the love and grace of Jesus without a title.