Recently, my incredible wife turned sixty. She’s a year older than I am (I think that makes her a cougar!), and even more beautiful to me than the day I first met her in Ms. Nute’s high school choir class in 1973. We’ve been a couple for over forty-two years and celebrate our forty-first wedding anniversary in just a few weeks.
If you’re young, like under thirty, you think sixty years of life and forty-plus years of marriage is a looooong time. In reality, it’s just a grain of sand on the beach of eternity.
If you’re old(er), like over fifty, you know how weird it is to look at the face in the mirror and wonder, when did I become a senior citizen?
Let me make some observations about age for both the young and the not-so-young.
If you’re young . . .
Live in the present. Months turn into decades before you know it, so savor the moments you have right now. Don’t waste the great gift of time. In fact, don’t wait until you’re old to live on purpose. “Bucket lists” are common among the elderly primarily because they’ve waited too long to take risks and to make every moment count.
Plan for the future. Living an abundant life of purpose and living fully in the moment, don’t mean you live without a view to the future. Just the opposite, in fact. Yes, be present today, but live prepared for the future because it will be here sooner than you think.
Stop throwing boomers under the bus. Sure, you may be better educated, and you have more facts and information jammed into your skull than your parents or grandparents do. Yup, you are hip (is that word still used?), and technologically savvy, and you have nice hair. However, there is no substitute for experience. The seniors in your life have learned a lot of lessons, some the hard way; glean from their knowledge. Listen more, and ask for their wisdom when you need it even if you don’t think you do.
If you’re old(er) . . .
Stop living in the past. Okay, you’ve lived a long and productive life, but it’s kind of sad if the only thing you ever celebrate are your past experiences. Nobody under thirty cares about the impressive risk you took that paid off back in 1970 if you’re not taking any risks today. The problem with being old is that we stop being active (and we watch too much reality TV). Don’t go there. In fact, people will care far more about your past when they see you’re doing far more than just talking about the good ‘ole days from the comfort of your Lazy-Boy. Engage. Live. Take some new risks. You ain’t dead yet!
Accept your limitations. You’re never going to run a four-minute mile (or maybe even a ten-minute mile!). Your memory might be fuzzy at times. You’ve got a potbelly, and you sag. So what? Wasting time and energy worrying about the inevitable is . . . well, it’s a waste, and you don’t have time to squander. Things change, our bodies change; in fact, little stays the same over the years. It’s okay. Take a deep breath and get over it.
Stop throwing millennials under the bus. Yes, they’re cocky at times, but so were you at their age. Yup, they think they know more about life than they do; so did you once upon a time. Sure, they were raised in a world in which everybody has an equally correct opinion (which is silly because everybody can’t be right). But millennials can teach you a thing or two about compassion. They are famous for selfless service to those in need. And the young do know more than we sometimes give them credit for, so listen more and ask for their advice even if you don’t think you need it—because you do.
As a pastor, I value both the old and the young (and all those in between). I want my church to be multi-generational because we are incomplete without all generations at the table.
Even when it’s challenging, we need each other, so let’s learn from each other and play nice.
The glory of young men is their strength,
gray hair the splendor of the old.
Proverbs 20:29 (NIV)
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