Right now, in this hair’s breadth of a moment, you are both as old as you’ve ever been, and as young as you ever will be again.
Interesting thought, isn’t it?
It is not unusual for me to think about time, in general, and aging, more specifically this time of year; March is my birthday month.
Aging comes naturally, but if your wish is to age gracefully, you’re going to have to be intentional.
Aging can be like a riptide, forcing you off course and threatening to pull you under. It can knock you off your feet in a single wave and leave you disoriented and wondering How in the world did I get here?
Neither aging nor aging gracefully are destinations; they’re journeys. One is completely left up to chance, the tail wagging the dog, que sera sera; the other is intentional, contemplative living, controlling and planning for a preferred outcome. The latter also involves accepting what you can’t control and making the best of it.
A positive attitude ignites your ability to age gracefully; it enables you to receive all of life as this big, incredible, magnificent gift–all of it. That doesn’t mean you’re immune to hardship or disappointment. It means you’re better able to navigate those seasons when they arrive.
When I was a kid, choosing a birthday gift for a friend was always easy: something birthstone-related or Zodiac sign-related. That’s so funny to me now; I don’t think I ever got anything related to either of those for gifts when my own children attended their friends’ birthday parties. My birthstone is aquamarine, and I’ve always loved it; it’s one of my favorite colors to wear, clothing or jewelry. Maybe it’s why I long for and love the ocean so, exquisite aquamarine sea. And though I never bought into Zodiac stuff in terms of practice or belief, I know I’m Aries and it’s associated with fire, and there’s something in that I appreciate.
While the four seasons are like my children in that each one is my favorite but for different reasons – I see the signature beauty in each – I find myself thankful to have been born in the spring. Spring is colorful, alive with promise, with hope, with life! Aquamarine finds her way into spring.
Spring holds the darkest day in Christendom and the brightest. Jesus, in full surrender and submission, enduring a gruesome spectacle of death, demonstrating an incomprehensible love, and ultimately conquering the grave and bringing reconciliation of man to God through His atoning sacrifice. Spring is beautiful and reminds me of our hope in Christ.
I am at the age now where milestone birthdays have lost the meaning they do in our youth. Remember when you couldn’t wait to
- turn double digits
- become a teenager
- get your learner’s permit
- get your driver’s license
- order a cocktail (or beer or wine…)
I am at the age now where sometimes, dammit, I have to check the last box. I wish that didn’t phase me, but it does. I’m also at the age where my body betrays me, alternately catching fire or my hair changing color or just plain hurting from sitting too long. Seriously–sitting too long can hurt? Who knew?
But hear me loud when I tell you this: I am no victim of age. Neither are you.
I am at the age of incredible opportunity.
I have lived 17 years longer than my own mother, who didn’t get to see her babies beyond grade school. I’m enjoying the incredible privilege of knowing my children as young adults, of seeing them on the way of becoming who they’ll be.
I’ve lived long enough and gained the experience that convinces me Romans 8:28 is true–
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose. (ESV)
I’ve lived long enough to learn that there’s more than one way to the other side of the mountain, and that one day you will make it to the other side.
I’ve lived long enough to understand the difference between “have to” and “get to”–
I get to clean my house because I have a house to clean.
I get to wash our clothes because we have clothes to wear (and a washing machine to do the actual washing).
I get to do yard work because I have a yard.
I get to give money to those in need because I have money to give.
I get to spend time getting to know God through His word, because He’s preserved His word in scripture.
I get to praise and worship the Lord because He has given me life now and forever.
Aging gracefully relishes Get-to living. Have-to living puts you under the chains of obligation. Be free, my friend. You get to be free. Let go of those chains.
I’m at the age where hindsight is a masterful teacher. Age allows you to see the veil lifting to reveal more and more of the big picture, all the tiny puzzle pieces of your life fitting together into something lovely.
I’m at the age where I can tell you it is never too late to:
learn something new
follow your dreams
try something that scares the snot out of you.
I’m at the age where I believe it is always right to:
lead with love
forgive, then forgive again. And again.
be kind, because everyone is dealing with something beneath the surface.
I am at the age where I want to steward my time well, love the people in my life well, and honor, serve and love Jesus well. In my past I have wasted time, taken friends and family for granted, and resisted God and what He asks of me.
An incredible opportunity has come my way that couldn’t have happened before now, unquestionably a God-gift. One year, 365 opportunities, and this one is huge. Tomorrow I turn 55, and 2018 is the year I will write my first book. It took me a long, long while to get to the age when, finally, my life is not my own.
Soli Deo gloria.