Cellulite and shrinking bladders.
We’ve been thinner, and we’ve been fatter.
Aches and pains; always have to pee.
Adjusting to new hips and knees.
No trophies sitting on the shelf,
Just accolades we give ourselves.
Paltry savings in the bank.
Is this God’s dirty little prank?
No. It’s merely a perception that we have the power to change.
The age of seventy-four is magical for me. I can’t contain myself when I consider all the experiences I have grown through. Fierce rejections, false truths, exquisite God-moments, giggly grandkids, and cherished relationships that have endured my messiness and painful childhood memories, all washed over by grace.
I have embraced a calling that gives meaning and purpose to it all. I can barely believe this is my life! My once insignificant story has blossomed into something holy and beautiful that makes me want to sing! If only I could sing.
Many, at this point, feel they have made an irreparable mess of their lives. Yet, it seems easier to continue the incessant navel-gazing than to allow God to gaze into their hardened hearts and change their lives.
And if we weren’t beating ourselves up enough, the world also tells us that we have outlived our usefulness. We are sucking valuable air and resources that would better serve the younger and more “productive.” We should simply lie down and die already.
But for others, grace has led us through much self-reflection, releasing a false self we so easily embraced, finally leading us to the necessary letting go. We have stopped fighting against it. With new found courage, we have sought out forgiveness from those we have hurt and offer forgiveness to our offenders.
We have no one to impress and no status to protect. Our once false reliance on all that is worldly has been exposed. It pales in comparison to the treasure of relationships, beginning with God. As long as we are still breathing (you are still breathing, aren’t you?), we can leave a legacy of love in the hearts of those we share this journey with.
But wait. Look around you. Are you reveling in that grace-filled stage of your life alone? If so, someone is missing. If you are here and those who continue to suffer are over there, you have probably forgotten your purpose! (Mark 12:30-31). Every day brings a new opportunity for us to step onto the path of someone else’s journey to wholeness and healing. And please do it with great joy and enthusiasm!
1 Peter 3:15 tells us, “… always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you….” News flash! No one is even going to ask if we are not living differently than the rest of the world if we spew cynicism from every pore of our wrinkled and aging bodies.
Joy is loving out loud!
I believe young people, in particular, need to hear that there really is Good News! But they don’t want to hear it from a bunch of grumpy old people.
You may ask, “With the world in such a mess, why shouldn’t we be cynical?” Well, I’ll tell you why. Cynicism is the devil’s tool for keeping non-believers away from salvation’s door. “Look,” says the non-believer, “those Christians are just as miserable as we are – maybe more so with all those thou-shalt-nots to contend with. If we’re going to be miserable, we’ll do it on our terms. Thank you very much.”
The quality that draws people to Christianity isn’t gloom and doom. Instead, it’s deep-down joy, even in the midst of trials and struggles. Joy causes the lonely and suffering to peer up from their pit of despair and ask, “Why are you so cheerful? What do you know that we don’t?”
Here are a couple of frightening statistics to consider: 1) seventy percent of Christian youths abandon their faith during college years and never return to it (LifeWay Research), and 2) suicide is the third-leading cause of death among ten to twenty-four-year-olds (CDC). In both instances, we need to ask ourselves why. And more importantly, what have we done to convince these young people that Christ isn’t worth following, that joy isn’t worth seeking, that life isn’t worth living? When they look at us, what do they see?
Do they see this? I can’t imagine anyone skipping joyously into the second half of life if this was all we had to offer; aches and pains and life’s dreadful stains. Just shoot me!
Or do they see this?
Now, this is a different story! No, that picture was not photoshopped. That was my husband, who loved being silly with the grandkids. Okay, maybe it’s a bit extreme for some folks, but I think it’s hysterical, and our grandkids LOVED it. Since his passing, they now have beautiful memories of him. I kind of wish I would have done it now. But I don’t think it would have been as funny. Anyway, my claim to fame was “the running game” and the “tickle monster” – and I participated in them with great gusto!
“What this country needs are radicals who will stay that way regardless of the creeping years.” ~John Fischer
So go find someone to love on. Maybe even a teenager. Really! From many years of being a Youth Minister, I can tell you that teens are not as scary as you might think. I decided to “retire” from that ministry because I thought I was too old. Someone younger would be better suited to the job and relate better to them.
On the contrary, I found that being able to care about teens is not determined by age; it’s determined by how much we care. That’s all they want, someone to care and offer them hope and encouragement. They long for someone to help them reach within themselves to find that child who may have been lost to society but is NEVER lost to the God who created them. I know. I’ve been there. What about you?
Here are some things I have learned about life. Some the hard way:
- Failure is never final, and love is never wasted.
- Forgiveness is giving up my right to hurt you the way you have hurt me.
- Eat dessert first.
- I would look stupid in skinny jeans even if I could fit into them – which I can’t.
- Pride is overrated – laugh at yourself – often.
- That jerk in your day-to-day life is trying to teach you something – pay attention.
- Surrender is a daily act of courage, risk, and trust.
- Be silly! We don’t have enough silliness in this world.
- Leave your little corner of the world better than you found it.
Words of wisdom from Richard Rohr: “The Jesus way is to embrace our wounds and accept them as the price of the journey. We can choose to carry our wounds with dignity until the time comes when we forget why they were so important or debilitating, to begin with. I think we carry our wounds until the end; they do not fully go away but keep us humble, patient, and more open to trust and intimacy. The healing lies in the fact that those same wounds no longer defeat us or cause us to harm ourselves or others.”
And finally, a quote that should conjure up an “oh crap” moment for all of us:
“Hell begins on the day when God grants us a clear vision of all that we might have achieved, of all the gifts which we have wasted, of all that we might have done which we did not do” Gian Carlo Menotti