While washing my face this morning I couldn’t help noticing the changes the years and gravity have made in my appearance. For just a moment, I felt as if I had let myself down by showing my age.
It’s too bad there is such pressure in our society to remain eternally young. If we fail to achieve this impossible goal we are made to feel ashamed of the evidence of our age. It is almost impossible not to buy into this foolishness.
When I first crossed the threshold of middle-age and began to feel the changes in my body, I wished for a guidebook or user’s manual, something like Aging for Dummies; something I could consult to know whether each new lump, bump, bag, sag, ache, or pain was a symptom to take to the doctor or just the natural progression from one life stage to the next. If I had found such a book, I would have referred to it many times in the ensuing years. Perhaps such a handbook wouldn’t be necessary if we weren’t ashamed to share and compare the signs of normal aging with one another openly.
Age certainly isn’t as pretty and doesn’t have as much energy, excitement, or physical strength as youth, but it does have experience, hard-earned wisdom, and for many, a new-found release from the fears that go hand-in-hand with immaturity and insecurity.
No matter what the media tell us, old age is not a sign of failure. It is proof of victory. The senior citizens among us are the survivors. I like to say that anyone can be young. Think about it, everyone who has ever been born has been young, but only the lucky few get to be really old. Shouldn’t they revel in that accomplishment?
If we reject the cult of youth, we can begin to accept every stage of life for the joy it brings and take pride in each year that passes.
As Mrs. Thistlethwaite, the mature character in my Christian fiction Tillamook Tillie series, likes to say, “Old age is both a privilege and an adventure!”
More importantly, the passage from youth to old age is part of God’s plan. It is totally natural. We can nip and tuck, inject, cover-up, gulp vitamins, and exercise to the point of exhaustion, but age will out.
Our bodies weren’t meant to last forever. They are recyclable, biodegradable containers to carry our maturing character and spirit into the next great adventure.
Psalm 92:14 (ESV)
They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green,