Thoughts On Aging (Yawn!)

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It seems incredible to me that I struggled with turning 30. I thought I was getting old, but now I realize that lots of thirty-year olds are still at the peachfuzz stage.

A little word to those of you turning 30. Don’t sweat it. You really are young. Enjoy it.

For those of you turning forty though, I can’t be quite as optimistic. If the average person lives around eighty years, the day of your fortieth birthday, you’re half dead. I did struggle with that one but God helped me. I awoke on that day with a joy! I remember thinking, “If this is it, and I have to die today, it’s been good.”

But when you cross the forty barrier you enter into the second half of your life and things definitely change.

And 50?

I kept waiting for the joy on my fiftieth birthday. I’m still waiting eight years later. It was more a sense of resignation. It’s coming. What are you going to do? Just enjoy it.

One thing though, as you get older there is a feeling of movement and things speed up instead of slowing down. When I was ten, it seemed that five years passed from December 25 to December 25 each year. Now it seems more like five months.

Used to, I couldn’t wait for my next birthday. Now, I have no problems waiting. It’s seems I’m on a conveyer belt that pushes me forwards, whether I want to or not. Only, when I look in the mirror, it doesn’t seem I’m going forward. Things are getting worse!

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get get to the age you want to be and stop? And you’re hair would stop growing and grass would stop growing? And you’d always look the same. It would uncomplicate things considerably, wouldn’t it?
Honestly, though, not reaching the next year isn’t very appealing either, wrinkles or not.

Now sixty is looming up the road. I’ve still got one to go to get prepared but it’s difficult to know what to expect. When I was younger I used to look 10 or 15 years ahead and choose someone I admired, and try to pattern myself after him.

If I look 15 years ahead now, I just see even more gray hair and wrinkles. A French pastor’s wife showed me a picture of herself and her husband when they were young. They looked like movie stars.

Now they’re well past retirement age and her comment was, “I don’t know why we have to get so ugly.” (Speak for yourself m’aam).

This process of moving through life is a scary business. Is there a Christian perspective to this journey, because journey it is.

“Stalwart walks in step with GOD;
his path blazed by GOD, he’s happy.
If he stumbles, he’s not down for long;
GOD has a grip on his hand.

I once was young, now I’m a graybeard—
not once have I seen an abandoned believer,
or his kids out roaming the streets.
Every day he’s out giving and lending,
his children making him proud,”
Says Eugene Peterson in his Message paraphrase of Psalms 37:23-26.

A key, I think, is to think. Identify the challenges of each age. I exhorted you thirty-year olds to enjoy being young, and you should (Noticed, I exhorted you, instead of just telling you. That sounds more preachery) . But the challenges I faced at thirty were just as great, maybe greater, than those I face now. I’m responsible for my wife and myself—then I had three kids at home.

And honestly, thirty years olds don’t have to wait to be effective for the Lord. Some of the most dynamic people I’ve know are marking their world in their thirties, or even their twenties.

So …

Try to get help— by applying the principles of God’s Word; by watching others who’ve just passed where you’re headed; by using the faith that you’ve received to be victorious in the age you are now,  and to be victorious in the age you will be.

Read, pray hard, believe, talk and ask counsel.

The same God who gives you wisdom to raise children, will give you wisdom to negotiate the empty nest into the next phase of your life. The God who caused fruit to grow in your life in middle age will help you be fruitful, even in old age.

The key is to trust Him, to engage with him at each point on the trip. Constantly check your heavenly GPS to make sure you’re not getting off track. Grow in your love and faithfulness to Him by the power of the Spirit.

I’m not saying you’re going to be shouting for joy about gray hair but a recent study seemed to indicate that many people in their 60’s are the happiest of all the groups surveyed. (Especially those who don’t have to rise early to go to work).

I guess you call that, “Going out with a bang!”

Hopefully “out” is a longtime up the road and younger people will have to work longer to pay social security taxes to support those of us who are still kicking at 120.

Hmmm …
“People are grieving. There was a death. Their money died.”
(BARBARA GOLDSMITH, a semiretired psychotherapist in Delray Beach, Fla. in NY Times)

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