I recently visited an older friend who is in a rehab center. The purpose for his being there is a good one: recovery from repeated infections in order to prepare for other medical procedures. But my friend is fighting it every inch of the way. Sadly, he is believing lies about everyone's motivation, assuming there's a conspiracy going on which is keeping him locked up in "Folsum Prison" a.k.a. "Alcatraz" (his words). And in the process, he is making everyone's life around him hard as he spews out the toxic lies he believes.
Oh how sad. What a waste of the precious few moments left in his valuable life.
But as I have been observing those older than me and listening to the stories of their care-giving loved ones, I have to pause. Oh how I want to age graciously. I want to leave this earth speaking truth and living love.
So I'm revisiting my birthday post from this year...the year I turned 70. In it I processed aging and I prayed. But it didn't end there ... I'm continually processing and praying:
Please, Lord, may my life to the very end exude your Peace and Your Joy and Your Loving Presence.
Why not take a step back with me ... especially if you are beginning to feel your age. Don't run from it. Run right into it and into the Arms of your loving Father God, the Source of your life and the Home to Whom you will return.
Facing my mortality is good for my soul.
And my "decade-turning birthday" does give me pause, unlike any other. I don't care that they say that 70 is the new 60. Who are the "they" anyway? It's wishful thinking ... just like all the other decade-turning birthdays were. For some reason in our culture, we think we should be above aging!
Yes, there are amazing advances in medical and health sciences that keep pushing the survival rate higher and higher. But what about the "soul's survival rate"? What about the quality of the inner life that transcends the outer?
God says that "eternity is in our hearts," (Eccl 3:11), and I do believe that. Do you?
So I'm reflecting.
No, I don't feel 70. I feel "me." Does that make any sense? I don't discount age, but I do feel like I treat most people as peers, even though I know the vast majority of everyone I know or meet or care about are younger than me. So I guess that makes me the "matriarch," doesn't it.
But it's all relative. As my mom used to say to me and my sibs on our birthdays, "You are just a kid! Don't tell anyone how old you are!"
But I'm reflecting and yes, telling, because we can learn from each other, no matter our age. And I have been observing old people and praying about aging for awhile. Can I tell you my desires, my yearnings, my prayers?
First of all, I want to be content in the Lord, no matter how limiting my life becomes. I can imagine how hard it will be when I can no longer be a "mover & a shaker" in life, when I can no longer drive, maybe even no longer walk or no longer think straight...that would be hard!
Lord, make me content in YOU and who I am to you...your loved one! (Phil 4:11-13)
Next, I don't want to be a complainer, a "drama queen." When folks' lives get small, everything can become a major "tragedy." I don't want to make my kids' lives miserable by my ungodly expectation that they keep me OK.
Lord, give me a "big life" even when it's small. May it be "big" because I see my "as is" life as serving your eternal purpose in my generation. (Acts 13:36)
Then of course, I want to love and be loved. I want to love with the Love Who is God loving in and through me ... my family, my friends, my "enemies," and even "strangers" God brings into my life. And I want to receive the love that comes my way, knowing that it's all gift ... and my graciously receiving is a gift back to the giver and to the Ultimate Giver.
Lover of my Soul, give me your eyes to see the people around me whom You want to love through me. And then let me recognize and receive the love that comes my way from You through others.
And last, (but I'm sure there will be more in my mind and heart as the days go by), and most importantly, I want to trust God in every moment, receiving His grace for each moment of each day, enjoying His fullness even in my aged life.
Lord, unfold Your fullness, grace after grace, in my today. I receive You as my Manna today, no matter my present physical condition or circumstances ... whether in my loneliness or in my bounty. Whatever You choose as my portion is pure gift to me. Let that be so, O my God. (John 1:16)
So even though I get it what my mother-in-law said to me years ago (as she would look in the mirror), "Who is that old lady looking back at me," I rather choose to echo God's promises and cling to them as my own:
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
Psalm 92:12-15 NIV
So be it, Jesus ... Amen!
Dear friends, what are your own dreams, desires, prayers for your own aging? Do you have any thoughts for those of us who are walking the path ahead of you? Or do you have any advice for those of us who are a step or two behind you? I would so enjoy your comments below ... thanks for your grace in reading my ramblings.