If there’s one thing true about all humans everywhere is that we all long to be loved. I’ve never met anyone who thrives on personal rejection. We all want to be accepted. We all desire intimate connection. We might choose to be in with the out crowd (like my skater, tattooed, dreadlocked god-daughter), but we still want to be a vital part of something and linked to others in a way that matters.
A broken and wounded heart might pretend to not care and scream, “I don’t give a rat’s pituty about what others think of me,” but deep down we all care. Why? Because we’re humans, and we were made to live connected in community.
About a month ago, I was with a group of about fifteen younger people who were going to carpool to a meeting downtown. As we walked out the door to depart I said, “Hey, I have room for three people to go with me.” No one replied, in fact, the look on their faces said, “Thanks, but we’re going in the cool car!” It was awkward and certainly not what I expected. I ended up coercing one of them to go with me, but on the return trip he bailed. Hmmm . . .
A few years back (more like a decades ago), I was the guy most everyone wanted to be around. I was the cool, exciting and fun guy, and lots of people wanted to hang with me.
But then my hair went gray, my potbelly went global, and my Hawaiian shirts went out of style. Somehow I went from the trendy pastor who was like a hip big brother to the grandpa with hair growing in embarrassing places. I look in the mirror, and I wonder, “When did I get old? I don’t feel that old, but no one would call me eye-candy anymore.”
So I’ve been thinking a lot about what I should do now that I’m the “old guy.” If you can relate, here are some insights to consider:
Get over it. Things change. Life changes. And I was probably never as cool as I thought anyhow (and neither were you).
Embrace it. I suppose I could dye my hair, stop eating what I love to eat (like pizza), and spend an inordinate amount of time exercising with the hope of recapturing my youth. But sooner or later my wrinkly, wart-ridden and worn-out body is going to outpace my futile attempts to look good. Of course, I should do whatever I can to stay healthy, but perhaps it’s time to become comfortable in my skin (such as it is).
Remember it. Honestly, I remember thinking in my younger days about some of the old folks in my life, “What do they know? They’re out of touch.” Of course, when it came to technology, music and attire, they were behind the times. But regarding the things that truly matter, like wisdom and life, I too often failed to listen and learn from these wise old saints. Remembering how I once was helps me have grace toward others who act the same way I did in my youth. It’s okay; someday they’ll understand.
Deliver it. The truth is, I’ve earned every one of my gray hairs! I may not be very chic, but I have learned a lot of lessons about life. My wisdom can help those in my wake to avoid some of the idiocy I experienced. Sadly, in our western culture, we tend not to revere age, but whether others want it or not, I will share what I know out of love whenever and wherever I can.
Wise old Solomon once wrote, “The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old” Proverbs 20:29 (NLT). If you’re young, revel in your strength and vitality. We need your energy and adventuresome spirit. But maybe the next time you have the opportunity, you can hit the pause button for a moment and ask the old guy or gal in your life a few questions. Questions like, “What have you learned about life that might help me?” They’ll probably smile and say, “I’m honored that you asked.”
By the way, cool or not, I’m not giving up my Hawaiian shirts. Sooner or later they’ll be back in style and trendy. I’m old enough now to realize that just about everything returns eventually.
Check out my recently published book: Mr. & Mrs. ~ How to Thrive in a Perfectly Imperfect Marriage! Click HERE to order it on Amazon. BTW, when you order the print version, you get the digital version for free!
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