By Mary Bridges, chaplain, Salina Presbyterian Manor
So, the theme for this month’s newsletter is “OLDER.” Many of you know I always like to check the definition of words, as there can be so many. The online dictionary I consulted tells me that “older” is an adjective and here are some of the definitions: having lived for a long time or no longer young. Synonyms listed are: elderly, aged, older, senior, advanced in years, respected, revered, in one’s dotage, long in the tooth, gray-haired, grizzled, past one’s prime, not as young as one was, ancient, decrepit, doddering, senile, over the hill, no spring chicken, and old ladies.
I think we all have a mental image of who we are and how we would describe ourselves. These images change throughout our lives. As an older 18-year-old I saw myself as mature, after all I had just gotten married. At age 21, I was really mature and officially able to have a drink. At age 30, I began going backwards, I was dealing with teenagers and they convinced me that I didn’t know anything.
During my 40’s I became a grandmother. Neither my husband nor I thought about age as we were too busy being grandparents. Then age 50 came and I told my best friend that if I died young, she should be happy for me. She looked me in the eyes and said, “You are too old to die young. I said fine, I just won’t die.”
In my early 60’s I started to become a bionic woman by getting two knee replacements. That is when I began doing colorful things to my hair.
In my 70’s I continued my quest to be a bionic woman by getting a new eardrum, a shoulder replacement and stopped doing colorful things to my hair. To be truthful, I am beginning to feel some of the challenges of aging. My husband is going to turn 80 next year, and I am starting to wonder, who is this old man living with me?
On the Dayspring website there is a devotional called, “What God Says About Growing Older.” Paige says, “What would it look like to really celebrate our years again – to begin shifting our focus from the fear of aging, to the rich, full lives God is calling us into as the years pass?
The more years we live, the more experiences we’re given to learn from, and the more wisdom and perspective we gain to see life in new and beautiful ways. When we see someone in their later years, or when we look in the mirror and it’s us, let’s remember what a gift that is.
And while the media leads us to believe that youth somehow have more value, the truth is, we are treasured by God at every age. Not only that, but He gives us specific gifts to share with the world in every season of our lives.
Some of us also fear growing older for physical reasons. Maybe our bodies aren’t able to do what they once could. Our memories aren’t as sharp. We begin to need more help than we used to. As the years pass, our fear of the unknown may grow stronger.
From the moment, we were created—whether we’ve realized it or not–we’ve relied on our Creator for every breath. Growing older helps us to shed that illusion of control more and more, and to rest in the promises of our loving God. Whether we are 9 or 90, Isaiah tells us that God vows to be with us every step of the way. The generations to come depend on our willingness to share what God has given us.
Celebrate Life Every Day – Remember that every day in every life matters. Don’t wait for a milestone to make it extra special. Look in the mirror and cherish your laugh lines. Remember how they are created.
Smile at the greys! God says they are splendid. Laugh at the future; remember who is holding it all. And remember what Proverbs 16:31 (CSB) tells us: “Gray hair is a glorious crown…”