Sunday, February 15, 2015

Aging With Grace

So, I was recently reading this article about the flu and flu shots.  It said that it was particularly important for babies, young children and the elderly (age 65 and up) to get the shot.  

Wait a minute, age 65 and up?  
I'm now considered "elderly?"  
No, the elderly are those people I visit in the nursing home, not me!!

But, alas, today, February 16, 2015, I turn 65 and am now considered among the elderly of the population!

When did I become elderly?

Does it just happen because someone decrees that those 65 and up are at greater risk for certain problems?

Does it just happen because our culture declares it?

And what, exactly, does that mean?  Elderly?

So, to my trusty dictionary I go:

Elderly:  "approaching old age; of, pertaining to, or characteristic of old age."
Makes sense.

So, now, I have to admit that I am approaching what our culture deems "old age."  Considering most people live to their mid-80s these days, I guess I am fast approaching "old age."

Just in case my mind doesn't want to face this reality, my body tries to help!

My left shoulder hurts most of the time.
My left knee doesn't always want to bend when I want it to.
I can't shovel my walkway without paying for it the next day.
My right ear has lost the ability to hear several different tones.
My eyes don't always see what I want them to see.

A friend texts me that she'll meet me at the same place as last time and I have to text back, 
"Where was that?"
I'm driving down the road and all of a sudden, I think, "where am I going?"

I get up to go to the kitchen to get a glass of water; get in the kitchen, which I might add, is only about 15 steps from the den, and I forget why I am there.  Go back to the den, Aha, yes, a glass of water, go back to the kitchen, only to discover I left my glass in the den!
Wish all this exercise would result in weight loss!!

I have many "rituals" these days, finding that if I always put a certain thing in a certain spot when I'm done with it, chances are I'll be able to find it the next time I need it.

Keys on hook by door.  Can't forget these!

This on the door because I have left the house not once, not twice,
but three times with candles still lit!

I like to read in bed before I shut the light out at night.  The next day when I pick my book back up, I usually have to go back at least a chapter and re-read because I can't remember what I read the night before!!!

I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.

But, lest you think this aging thing is all bad, I have to tell you the greatest thing about getting older: my prayer life is steadily increasing.

Lord, can you help me find this?
Lord, please help me carry this up the stairs.
Lord, please give me strength to finish this one last Zumba song.
Lord, please help me not to fall.

OK, all kidding aside.

"Therefore, we don't lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our yes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

I have to accept the fact that I have more years behind me than I do ahead of me.
I have to accept the fact that the outward man will fail, grow old and waste away.

I've been reflecting a lot lately knowing I was fast approaching this milestone of 65 years of age.
And my reflecting has caused me to feel sad.

I never expected to be where I am at this stage of my life:
a widow, living alone, growing old alone.

I expected to still have my husband here with me.
I expected that we would spend our "golden years" together enjoying one another and maybe traveling a little, too.
And when I knew that was no longer "on the table," part of me expected that I might re-marry, but that hasn't happened either.

These days, mostly I travel alone.

As I look toward the future, I just see more of the same - aloneness.
And, yes, it makes me sad.

Sad for what might have been and sad for what is.

But, it's also given me resolve.  
Resolve to not waste whatever years I have left.  
Resolve to not let the sadness overcome the joy.
Resolve to live my life to bring glory to the Lord.

My life is in God's hands.
My life has always been in God's hands.
He knew I would be right where I am today.

My future is in God's hands.
My future has always been in God's hands.
He, alone, knows what's up ahead for me.

"My times are in your hands."
Psalm 51:15

And because He knows, I trust that He has made provision.

And even though, in the physical, I am alone, I know I am not alone.

"...for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you."
Hebrews 13:5c

My life matters to Him.
So I want my life to matter.

"Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shown thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come."
Psalm 71:18

As long as there is breath in these lungs and the ability to move, I want to live to share the joy that is mine in the Lord, in spite of the sadness, in the midst of the sadness because God is always good and I am always loved.

He gives me the "treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places."  He gives me the "peace that passes all understanding" and He turns my "mourning into dancing."

And I know His grace will carry and sustain me through this season of my life, too.

"But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ."
Ephesians 4:7

"Thou, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 2:1

In the midst of the sadness, in the midst of the unknown, in the midst of my failing flesh and forgetful mind, in the midst of it all, His grace will carry me as I proclaim

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever."
Psalm 73:26

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