Appreciating Aging!—Part 2
February 21, 2017
by Maria Fontaine
Appreciating Aging!—Part 2
For you who want to read more about how to appreciate the aging journey in your lives or the lives of others and how to age victoriously, I’m going to be sharing some of the many positive things that others have said on this topic. I’ll include some thought-provoking quotes and will add a few comments from me.
“You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.”—Samuel Ullman
As Jesus said, we need the faith of a little child to enter His kingdom. It’s that complete trust in Him that frees us from the limitations of our time-bound existence. It’s believing in His absolute love that liberates us to experience the many possibilities that are ours in Him.
The only things that can bind us are doubt, fear, and the despair that comes when we allow ourselves to shift our focus from Jesus to the things of this earth that are temporal. They restrict our vision, blinding us to the truth of who we are as God’s children.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”—Henry Ford
“The end-time of life is one of its best. Certainly one of its most important. This time, the end-time, is the time for melting into God, for putting down the ragged remnants of the past, for learning to live in the present and finding it enough. For learning to live with life as it is, and finding it enough. For learning to accept ourselves and all we have learned as a result of it, and finding it enough.”—Joan Chittister
“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”—Madeleine L’Engle
That’s one of the beauties of this time-bound life. Each stage holds its own valuable lessons, and the more of them you’ve experienced, the more potential you have to be able to benefit from the one you’re now in.
“Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty; they merely move it from their faces into their hearts.”—Martin Buxbaum
Of course, that inner beauty in someone’s heart has a way of continually popping out of their eyes and dancing across their face. I think a very elderly person with a glorious smile on their face is one of the most beautiful things in this life, perhaps second only to the same thing on a baby’s face. They both have a quality of purity about them that comes from the heart. I have been struck by this several times, especially when I’ve been in gatherings of Christians with very elderly people present. Some of them were so radiant that it truly seemed like they were reflecting a beautiful, heavenly light no matter how wrinkled and “old” they might have looked in the natural.
“It’s important to have a twinkle in your wrinkle.”—Author unknown
We have Jesus, and no matter how many years we’ve been on this earth, He can ensure that the “twinkle in our wrinkle” is His “shine divine,” because, for all that life has thrown at us, we’re still here, still trusting Him, and still able to share the compassion, love, and comfort with others that He has given to us.
“When grace is joined with wrinkles, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age.”—Victor Hugo
I wonder if the reason the Lord gives us those wrinkles in old age is as an illustration, to show everyone that for all our lifetime of learning and growing and the great volume of experiences held within us, there’s still so much more room to stretch and expand! I, for one, want to join those wrinkles with His grace for as long as I have them!
“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.”—George Burns
“To age well, there seem to be three major commonalities: passion, perspective on life, and persistence.”—Author Unknown
“Old age ain’t no place for sissies.”—Bette Davis
Perhaps that’s why God placed the experience of aging, with all its aches, pains, and frustrations, at the very end. It takes a lifetime to grow the patience, endurance, longsuffering, and stubborn determination to make it through that final stretch to the finish line. Can you imagine if you had to face aging without all you’ve been through that helps you to see life and people in a balanced way?
“The soul’s dark cottage, battered and decayed,
Lets in new light through chinks that time hath made.”
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”—Les Brown
So true. And as we age, our goals and dreams can become even more amazing, because they often lose more and more of the limitations of the things of this world and become goals and dreams that extend beyond this realm and into the heavenlies.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite “goal” songs that I’ve been singing since I was a little girl. It’s always been my prayer, but it seems like it’s even more fitting for this stage of my life. It’s “Higher Ground,” by Johnson Oatman Jr.
I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.
I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
“Those who give up their denial of age, who age consciously, grow and become aware of new capacities they develop while aging. [They] become more authentically themselves.”—Betty Friedan
As we get accustomed to our older age and feel more comfortable with it, we can accept that the end is drawing closer. What was once a distant dot on the horizon begins to loom large and beautiful.
“Old age is not when we stop growing. It is exactly the time to grow in new ways. It is the period in which we set out to make sense of all the growing we have already done. It is the softening season when everything in us is meant to achieve its sweetest, richest, most unique self.”—Joan Chittister
“But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the LORD’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, ‘The LORD is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!’”—Psalm 92:12–15 NLT
“For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 1:6 NET
“Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”—Isaiah 46:4 ESV
“They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green.”—Psalm 92:14 ESV
“So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”—Psalm 71:18 ESV
The Good News About Getting Older
Nine Keys to Aging Well
By Jonathan Young (folkstory.com)
There are some things that get better as we age. On our best days, we have a kind of grace. We are works-in-progress and even in later life new qualities surface. Some aspects are coming along faster than others. Other features come and go. In general, we can see certain emerging attitudes seem to unlock the rewards of getting older.
1. We can enjoy life. We are often playful and like to laugh. We are starting to move beyond the need to look cool. This leads to all kinds of fun, at unexpected moments. Even our idiosyncrasies can be quite entertaining. When we hit a bump, we are sometimes bemused at the ridiculousness of life. We also enjoy recalling the oddities we have witnessed. Some of them have been amazing. We’ve had enough disenchantment for a lifetime. We’re willing to be enchanted again.
2. We make the most of what we have. We are finally gaining some perspective and even a little wisdom. We have a bit more inner stability. We have the guidance of memory that often routes us around trouble. We are coming to terms with our limits, and mainly celebrate what we can do. At long last, we seem to have a sense of who we are. We like ourselves more than we expected. We are getting better at trusting our own tastes and preferences. We appreciate the freedom to indulge in our interests, new and old. A grateful heart lets us take pleasure where we find it.
3. We appreciate people. Friends, acquaintances, and even strangers have unexpected qualities. Their faces are surprising in ways we didn’t notice before. Also, we have decided that most people are good enough as they are.
There’s no need to change anyone. We realize it wouldn’t do much good to try, anyway. We appreciate those who have been kind to us. We have received a great deal of affection over the years, and such gifts last. We have the friendship and love of a lifetime with us always, even from the people who aren’t around anymore. We are thankful to have had good company on the journey.
4. We accept our flaws. We don’t have to be perfect. On most days, we relish the diversity of our personalities. We can be flexible or stubborn, clueless or profound, depending on the moment. We tend to honor the delicate parts of ourselves. A life with nothing to be sorry about would be rather uneventful. We are even starting to appreciate our past disasters. Old humiliations have become essential parts of a fine story. We occasionally even feel a tender fondness for the ragged edges of our lives.
5. We are at home in the world. We enjoy our surroundings and often discover new secrets about familiar places. Watching the explorations of small children and animals can delight us. The piece of cake we allow ourselves is especially delicious now that we don’t indulge often. The scent of a flower or gentle touch of a breeze seems more sensually rich than before. Sometimes, we glance around our home spaces to relish how our belongings reflect our personalities. Perhaps we got more efficient in the pleasure department. Maybe, having had our share of difficulties, we just appreciate things more.
6. We have less to prove. We are learning to avoid comparing ourselves with others—or even with our former selves. It is a relief when we can begin to overcome feelings of competition. We can sometimes even deal with envy as a bad mood, not to be trusted. By focusing on our best personal qualities, and favorite current interests, we can find something fulfilling in almost every day. We might have more contributions to make, but don’t feel quite as driven to do something of great importance. Most of the time, we are able to work and play for its own sake, not to look good in the eyes of others. Now that the need to show off has eased a bit, finding opportunities to use our talents is a manageable task.
7. We have strong priorities. We are getting better at tending to our deeper yearnings. Now that we’re not in charge of fixing everything, we are free to devote our energies to neglected passions. It may be creative expression, reading, gardening, hobbies, or working on causes. Certain projects virtually call us. It might surprise friends that we are so energized by these activities, but we feel no need to explain ourselves. On most days, we use time in more immediate and present ways than ever before.
8. We accept our moods. We know that life is rich with nuances of emotion. We like being happy, but indulging in a little grumpiness has its rewards, too.
We can usually let sadness come and go when it wants, without making a big deal about it. Life has its ups and downs. No point getting frustrated when it won’t help. We avoid fretting about things, if at all possible. We are often able to be philosophical about life’s ordinary disappointments and tribulations. When we can accept our feelings, a natural buoyancy usually restores tranquility soon enough.
9. We take time to reflect. We are able to ponder the inner life more than in the past. Allowing quiet to enter us seems to change the flow of time and make it larger. We find ways to open to the mysteries within. For some it is meditating, for others it is knitting, still others find it during a daily walk. It is simply being receptive to something beyond our ordinary thoughts.
Partly, it is using the gifts of experience and long memory. Reflecting on fine moments in the journey reminds us of the riches of our lives.
Randolph E. Schmid, “For resolving conflicts, go to grandma,” Associated Press, April 5, 2010, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/36191339/ns/health-behavior/t/resolving-conflicts-go-grandma/#.V6OYKNIrLDc.
Paula Span, “6 Reasons to Grow Old,” New York Times, June 22, 2009, http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/22/6-reasons-to-grow-old/?_r=0.
Sara Reistad-Long, “Older Brain Really May Be a Wiser Brain,” New York Times, May 20, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/20/health/research/20brai.html.
Kristi Hedges, “Four Benefits Of Aging Frances McDormand Would Love,” Forbes, December 16, 2014, http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2014/12/16/four-benefits-of-aging-frances-mcdormand-would-love/#4c6c61bdf22a.
Constance Gustke, “More Older Adults Are Becoming Inventors,” New York Times, April 17, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/18/your-money/more-older-adults-are-becoming-inventors.html.
Josh Tapper, “Researchers find that wisdom and happiness increase as people grow older,” Washington Post, August 10, 2010, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/09/AR2010080904177.html.
Shelley Emling, “9 Facts About Aging That Will Actually Get You Excited,” The Huffington Post, May 28, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/28/good-things-about-aging_n_5372835.html.
Helen Fields, “What Is So Good About Growing Old,” Smithsonian Magazine, July 2012, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-is-so-good-about-growing-old-130839848/?no-ist.
Kathy Gottberg, “Ten Awesome Benefits to Growing Older,” smartliving365.com, February 7, 2014, http://smartliving365.com/ten-awesome-benefits-growing-older/.
Zaria Gorvett, “The benefits of getting older,” BBC, 29 October 2015, http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20151028-the-benefits-of-getting-older.
Tara Bahrampour, “We’re lucky if we get to be old, physician and professor believes,” Washington Post, January 23, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/were-lucky-if-we-get-to-be-old-physician-and-professor-believes/2016/01/23/251ed8b2-b9c2-11e5-829c-26ffb874a18d_story.html
Charlie Sorrel, “We Actually Get Happier As We Age,” Fast Company, January 22, 2016, http://www.fastcoexist.com/3055548/your-midlife-crisis-doesnt-exist-we-actually-get-happier-as-we-age
Margaret Manning, “How to Live Without Regrets After 50,” Boomerly, March 31, 2015, http://www.nextavenue.org/how-live-without-regrets-after-50/