Change Font Size:   A A A

Apr 18, 2012 | Gayle Raif

Commentary: Making the Second Half of Life Count

Two years ago at age 70, I received my master of social work in direct practice/counseling.  Just going back to school at age 69 was a leap of faith, but since God opened the door and pushed me through it, I had no choice. My faith story is long and has many twists and turns…too long to relate here.


However, rather than take a paying position (and I turned down several) I use my profession as my ministry. Two days a week I work as a volunteer to counsel  teen-agers and adults at Pathstones, a  Christian counseling center at Alpine Church of Christ in Longview. God has allowed so many experiences in my life where I had to lean on and learn from Him, that I am able to go beyond my classroom learning in graduate school and tell my clients specifically how God can help them with and through their problems. I get quite a few clients who have an acquired disability or incurable disease. I have been totally deaf since age 33 (I hear through a cochlear implant), but If God gave me the choice to have my hearing again, I would decline. My deafness, and what God has allowed me to accomplish, is the single best witness I have for Him. When clients hear my story, it gives them hope that God can help them, too.


My clients have given me ideas for ways we seniors can still be used by God. Here are just a few:

  • A person who has dealt with depression can best explain to someone else why one can’t just “get over it.”
  • A young woman who is a single parent can benefit from the wisdom of a woman who has successfully  reared her own children in a similar situation.
  • Those who have an acquired disability can learn how to overcome daily barriers  from one who has faced the same barriers.  There are so many young people in the military who are returning with life-changing disabilities.  I’m sure there are Viet Name veterans with a service-related disability who can help the new veteran through the pitfalls of learning to live again, but in a different way.  I seek to do this with those who have lost their hearing.
  • A retired military wife can help a young military person with the problems of being both mom and dad to her or his children while trying to help them maintain contact with their dad (or mom).
  • A woman who has experienced childhood sexual abuse can be a great comfort to a younger woman who was abused, but has been afraid to tell anyone.  The older woman can help the younger   one overcome the (false) guilt she still feels about what happened.
  • A woman who was raped years ago can help a young woman through the trauma in the aftermath of her own rape.
  • A man who was addicted to internet pornography can share how God helped him overcome his addiction and, hopefully, restore his marriage.
  • A man or woman who has been divorced can help a younger person find a different perspective, and perhaps even help save the marriage, or the person’s sanity.
  • A person who has struggled with forgiveness can help a younger one define forgiveness and find a way to let go and forgive.
  • A woman who has survived breast cancer can be an invaluable comfort to another woman…and she can tell the young husband what his wife needs from him.


As you might realize, most, if not all, of these are similar to what 12 Step programs offers. But they are also ways we can reach out to show God’s love in a tangible way, not just that of a Higher Power. To me, this is what Christianity is all about.


At Diocesan Council, Bishop Doyle asked that we reach out, not to increase our membership or financial situation, but because we are compelled by Jesus’ love. I believe in the list above (and this is not complete by any means) are examples of ways we can reach out in love. First, it helps the person with whom we are interacting. But most of all, it gets us out of the pew. It’s so easy to put extra money in the plate for a cause because we don’t have to give our time and energy. But maybe it will also be the impetus for someone who feels he or she doesn’t really have anything to give.


Raif is a member of St. Michael’s and All Angels, Longview.