The Privilege of Growing Older

We've been sold a myth, and we continue buying it with the currency of peace of mind. We've become a nation obsessed with hanging on to our youth and we end up ruining today yearning for yesterday. Wake up! Aging is a privilege God himself grants as he graciously gives us another day of heartbeats and breath. 

Too often we are myopic, focused only on the pains of growing older. I get it. We wake up and our backs hurt. We get up and our feet hurt. And when we are forced to bend down, we try to figure out what else we can do while down there. Our hair falls out even as our mid drifts fill in, and we are forced to have trousers and dresses in three sizes filling our closets. And to add insult to our growing indignity, both our memory and digestive systems frequently hang out the "out of order" sign. 

So, yes, I get it. I live it. But the thing is, I don't find my identity in it simply because the upside of growing older is actually quite good.

For one thing, aging beats dying. Every day we wake up is another present, graciously given to us by God himself, wrapped in 24 beautiful, useable hours. He has determined to grant us another day, another chance, another stage on which to proclaim his goodness and glory. 

It's also true that age brings many benefits. Life experience now allows us to enjoy the simple things youth often overlooks. Getting an ice cream with a granddaughter, smelling the first orange blossoms, and enjoying a quiet drive through oak-covered backroads become more than simple experiences as they draw out memories of past joys. In many ways, we're more alive than before.

Age also usually means a greater understanding of things. No longer are we sucked in by the shallow, the trite, the frivolous. We've been there, and seen through that. We're harder to mislead, less apt to misstep, and more able to manage the tidal wave of information this world throws at us. We're wily veterans of this battle called life, and proud of it. 

We're also more balanced. We've known both success and failure, plenty and want, and now we understand life better, and can enjoy it more. We're not easily knocked off our pins by the daily news, and we don't go off chasing the latest conspiracy theory. Over time we've gained the ability to read the world, to ferret out the truth, and - hopefully - have garnered the wisdom and skill of righteous thinking and living. 

It's also true that age brings the right things into focus. We've bought enough stuff, enjoyed enough fun, and experienced enough joy to know that relationship beats stuff every time. We've learned, sometimes the hard way, that the best things in life aren't things. We've learned that loving and being loved are priceless, and that real love grows deeper, stronger, and more delightful as it ages.

So, don't knock aging. Be thankful for the privilege. And stop measuring yourself chronologically as though the most important factor in life is time. Realize that you are an intellectual storehouse of experience and understanding, a proven fountain of love and relationship, and most of all, a maturing, gifted Christ-follower called by God to champion his glory and further his mission. 

Sure your back aches, your medicine cabinet is full, and you often can't remember where you parked the car. None of that matters against the backdrop of eternity. This life is merely the prelude to the next so don't become obsessed with it. Just be thankful for each day, and strive to make it great.

Yesterday is gone and you'll never, ever have it again. Tomorrow is uncertain, but you should certainly plan well for it by living today to the fullest. That means refusing to allow any of your physical, emotional or spiritual energy to be wasted worrying about aches, pains, pounds, or wrinkles. You're not getting younger and you never will. Deal with it, and then act like the mature person God has allowed you to become. Stop whining and start wining the race God has set before you. After all, he's the one giving you life and breath in the first place.