Doug and I have been friends for a long time. Over coffee at Starbucks he said, “I’m afraid of growing old. It concerns me that I can’t do the things I used to love to do, and brain farts are becoming an annoying regularity!”
I smiled, knowingly nodded and said, “Me too, Dude! When did we get old?”
Now before I go on, if you’re not at least fifty yet, stop reading. Seriously, this post is likely to be a waste of your time because you’re not going to understand or relate to what I have to share. It’s okay; I didn’t get it in my youth either. Maybe file this away and read it in twenty years or so (if you can remember where you filed it when you’re old).
For the rest of you old dogs or aging queens, keep reading; you might find some comfort here.
Recently, a friend recommended tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. It’s been around for a while but never crossed my path before. It’s a book about an old professor (Morrie) who is dying of ALS, written by one of his former students (Mitch), and it’s a moving and insightful book about life’s greatest lessons.
One of the chapters deals with the fear of aging. In it Morrie says, “. . . the young are not wise. They have very little understanding about life. I embrace aging. As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed at twenty-two, you’d always be as ignorant as you were at twenty-two. Aging is not just decay. It’s growth. If you’re always battling against getting older, you’re always going to be unhappy because it will happen anyhow.”
I’m pretty sure I’ve not embraced aging, and I complain way too much about the decay and decline in my life.
I wish my bad knees and back didn’t keep me from downhill skiing.
I used to set two alarms to rouse me in the morning; now I can’t remember the last time I needed an alarm to wake up early.
What did I walk into this room for anyhow? Just a minute ago I got up to get something, somewhere, but can’t for the life of me remember what!
All of those things (and far more) are frustrating at times, but maybe I’m focusing on the wrong things. Perhaps it would be better to settle here:
I may not be able to do physically what I used to do, but I’ve had the gift and privilege of doing so much in my life. I’ve climbed mountains, surfed oceans, trekked the Himalayas, ran marathons, and thank God, I’m still moving.
I might not sleep as much as I used to, but I sure do get a lot done at 5am!
I’ve forgotten more than most twenty-somethings know, but wisdom does, in fact, makeup for a lot.
Besides these new realities in my life, I have the great joy of being a grandfather. I have the honor of mentoring an amazing group of young leaders. I pastor a church full of people who respect my wisdom (even when I can’t always remember their names). And best of all, I enjoy the depth of companionship with my wife, Laura, who has been my best friend for over forty years.
Morrie is right, “Aging is not just decay. It’s growth.” Frankly, when I think about how idiotic I was in my youth, I’m eternally grateful for the maturity I’ve experienced and for the spiritual development still to come.
My memory might not be what it used to be, but my memories are plentiful and sweet.
My body isn’t the epitome of studliness I once imagined, but I’m comfortable in my skin.
My heart doesn’t dream of adventure quite like it used to, but I’ve discovered the greatest adventure is found in the quality of abiding friendships. And I am rich with friends.
Yes, death is closer than it used to be, but perhaps the apostle Paul was on to something when he wrote, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” Philippians 1:21.
So let me gently encourage you today to embrace aging and to see it as a path that eventually leads to an even better life forever with Jesus. Being older just means being closer to a new body and mind in eternity, and there’s no downside to that reality.
May I pray for you?
Father, help us to remember that though our bodies grow weaker, and our days on this earth are numbered, this life is not all there is for us. Teach us to embrace each season of our lives with anticipation and joy.
“The glory of the young is their strength;
the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.”
Proverbs 20:29 (NLT)
(Visited 216 times, 18 visits today)Share with a friend: