Artfully Aging

0 comments Posted on April 27, 2012

by Dena Dyer

Aging used to be revered, not feared. For centuries, several generations lived together, and grandparents were an integral part of a child’s existence. Elderly people’s hard-earned wisdom helped younger people cope with daily life. But sometime in the twentieth century, as travel became cheaper, families began to spread out. Nursing homes popped up to help care for frail bodies, and the media spread the lie that “younger is better.”

Now, we fear the natural process God created in our bodies. We dread slowing down, getting sick, and putting on weight. We have believed the lie that we will become useless if we can’t do the same things we’ve done before. We’re terrified of losing our faculties, our finances, and our families. And each passing year, the changes we experience physically seem to back up the notion that getting older is a crime, or at least a shame.

Here are just a few things we may begin learning as we get older:

Our energy seems to lag at the very moment we need it.Our health is more precarious than we once thought, and much more precious than we once knew.We’ve experienced more of life’s ups and downs than we could have imagined in our twenties, but we still don’t know all the answers.Just when we start to think we’re getting ahead in financial matters, life goes and throws us a huge curve.

But there are also many wonderful things that happen to us as the clock ticks. We may not have the get-up-and-go we once had, but we also gain perspective and maturity that makes life so much richer!

If married, we’re finding that a “mature” marriage doesn’t get easier—but it does get sweeter.Our kids and our parents, if we have them, are giving us lots of gray hair. . .and tons of laughs.Friendships that we thought would last have faded, but then God has also surprised us with new, better friends—of all ages.Every day there’s a new reason to fear—but also a new reason to rejoice.God is faithful. His promises are real. And He is with us all the time.

Can you relate? Although you’ve already learned quite a bit, are you also asking yourself a lot of questions—more each day, in fact─as the years tick by? Questions such as:

When did my wild oats turn into Shredded Wheat?How fast is my body going to go downhill? And is there any way to slow the process?Why do I feel like I’m my parents’ parents all of a sudden?Will my kids or close relatives put me in a nice nursing home?Will I ever get to retire? Travel? Find the perfect mate? Have grandkids? Can I blame global warming for my hot flashes?

See if you recognize your own issues as other women share some of their biggest concerns.

Mindy, a widowed mom of two grown kids, wonders if she’ll remarry, and if so, will her children like her new husband?

Beth admits, “Every morning it seems like something else hurts or doesn’t work properly. And my memory is slipping.” . . .

Selina is single and worries about losing her employment─especially since she has specialized job training in a single field─and insurance.

Leah is divorced and has never had kids. She worries about ending up all alone.

Diane asks, “Will my finances last throughout my lifetime?”

Lane doesn’t want to look old. “I don’t mind wrinkles,” she says, “I just don’t want very many!”

Joanne says, “Well, besides worrying about brain tumors, heart disease, Alzheimers, blood clots, osteoporosis, and incontinence, my biggest concern would have to be the fear that my hairdresser won’t be able to cover all of my gray hair. That and my recurring dream where all of my teeth fall out.” . . .

Bonnie says, “I want to keep active and yet my body puts limitations on me. . . . I want to still be a good wife even with the changes in my body. . . . I want to be actively involved as a mentor to my adult children and my precious grandchildren. . . . I want to be a loving and supportive daughter with my aging parents even though I’m stretched very thin already. . . . I want to nourish and savor the times I share with good friends, and last but not least, I want to continue to grow spiritually and stretch my mind so that I can continue to be a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, and friend who can stay involved and contribute to the lives of those I love and care about.”

And Trish says, “I worry about rearranging my life so much for my children that once they are gone or no longer need me, I won’t know what to do. I worry about my children. Will they live out their faith in Christ? Will they wander? Make bad choices? And I worry about our parents─will we be able to care for them as they grow older? What health problems will they run into? How will we balance caring for our kiddos and our parents during the sandwich-generation years? Basically, I worry a lot.”

Let’s face it. As we get older, life throws more curveballs at us, and we can easily get overwhelmed. Or God takes too long in answering our prayers, and we think He’s forgotten us. But if we let Him journey with us, He promises to give us peace, courage, and His perspective. He also gives us choices, which can lead us to a dead-end or the place of victory we’re destined for. He longs to become our one constant when life’s huge waves rock our boat.

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