Perhaps David the Psalmist checked himself out in a primitive mirror of that day or saw his reflection in a quiet pool. One look and he concluded the obvious, as above. Chronologically, I acknowledge the same. I have already been young once—been there, done that.
Really, I don't think of myself as old, as in “ancient”! “Old” isn't a four letter word to be avoided because it is uncomplimentary. It's only 3 letters, but if you put a “g” before it and make it 4, you have “gold,” and these are supposed to be our most precious golden years.
One grows older gradually and that is a gift in itself. One doesn't suddenly get old. One becomes older simply by living longer. It's our human condition, no exceptions. So I'm quite used to the idea. An email came to me listing some of the pluses of advancing age. I didn't identify with them all, nevertheless I felt an affinity with the spirit of most. I'll just venture a few observations.
I'm now becoming the person I've wanted to be. Well, not necessarily, certainly not my body! Looking in the mirror I sometimes despair over the wrinkles, the gravity pull, and the “adipose tissue” (abdominous excess, i.e. fat.) In contrast, where did the collagen go when it disappeared from my arms and other mostly hidden places? Often I'm surprised to look closely at that elderly person who lives in my mirror. But I don't agonize long over such things. I would never trade my amazing friends, my fulfilling life, my loving family, and my hopefully acquired wisdom for less gray hair or a flatter belly.
Some things get better with age. Yes, perhaps wine and cheese. As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself and less critical of others. I've become my own best friend. I no longer feel guilty for eating that extra cookie, for not always making my bed, or for buying something silly that I don't really need but that gives me pleasure. Within limits, of course, I'm entitled to be messy if I wish and leave dishes in the sink overnight occasionally. I've given myself permission to stop and smell as many roses as I want to.
I've seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon before they experienced the great freedom that comes with being elderly. Whose business is it if I choose to read all night, spend hours on the computer, and then sleep until--? No one sees me when I dance with myself while reveling in a joyful serendipity moment the Lord brought into my life. Or if in private I wish to weep over a past hurt or disappointment. I'm not envious of young friends with smooth bodies and boundless energy. They, too, will get old (if they're blessed). I know I'm sometimes forgetful. Then again, some things in life are just as well forgotten. I eventually remember the important things, but if not, they couldn't have been that important anyway.
Sure, over the years my heart has been wounded. I don't say broken, because God keeps my fragile heart from fragmenting completely. How can I not grieve deeply when I or someone else loses a loved one, or feel keenly when a friend suffers, or even when someone's beloved pet gets hit by a car? Such experiences give me strength and understanding and compassion. If I kept my heart to myself, it would be sterile and cold.
I'm so blessed to have lived long enough for my hair to turn gray and have my youthful laughs forever etched into my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair turned silver.
Becoming older has set me free. I can now say "no" and not feel guilty about it. I can say "yes" when something fits into my more leisurely schedule. As I advance in years, it's easier to be a bit more outspoken. I don't care as much now about what other people think. I've even earned the right to be wrong—on very rare occasions, of course!
I'm no longer concerned about what could have been, nor do I worry about what will be. I try to emulate the Proverbs 31 woman, “She smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom.” After all these years, I've finally made peace with the person I've become. I'm not going to live forever on Planet Earth, but while I'm still in my mortal “earth suit” I won't waste time lamenting what it looks like now. It has served me well. God has designed a fantastic and fashionable “space suit” for me to wear in my eternal life-to-come that is wrinkle-proof and ageless.
Today I'm going to appreciate every one of God's not-so-ordinary miracles of life and breath and what's left of my diminishing five senses. I will greet the day with thanksgiving, joy, and anticipation. I will live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, appreciate my blessings and leave the rest to God.
I've decided to accept growing older as a generous bonus gift from our loving God Who is called “The Ancient of Days.” I doubt that He minds that praiseworthy chronologically-slanted title!