As an active member of the family at Trinity, Don is a regular contributor to Trinity’s weekly eNews letter. He enjoys writing and has authored several books, including “This Ugly Disease—A Caregiver’s Journey into Pain, Anguish and Hope.” With biblical insights, his writings provide spiritual encouragement for many. His son and daughter-in-law, Graham and Susan, are also members at Trinity.
One day a few months ago, I passed by my bathroom mirror. There, looking at me, was a reflection of an old man—at least to me he looked old. Staring at one another, the old man in the mirror seemed to be speaking to me. At the time, I felt his words were not very flattering, “Don,” he said, “You’re old.”
Strange, I really didn’t feel old, even at 86. Apart from the usual scars of a well-worn life, I never considered myself old. But, upon closer reflection, I finally agreed with what I saw in the mirror. The simple truth is this: the hardest thing about getting old is recognizing you’re old. But even more challenging is accepting it.
Much has been written about aging, particularly as the number of seniors in our population continues to increase and live longer. Although we may be surrounded by older people, accepting that we are also like them is not always easy.
Aging may come with a lot of denials and self-deluding excuses. But it is hard to ignore sagging and wrinkled skin that seems to hang loosely on our bones, skin that once enjoyed the tone and shape of our 20s or 30s. Neither is our balance what it used to be, and uncertain steps can make for unexpected falls. Our frequent scrapes, blood spots, and bruises often give the appearance of a war survivor. Hanging on to things is also a challenge.
Then there are those pesky packages that challenge our strength. You know, the ones that say, “tear here” on easy-to-open packages. Or, when we arrive in a room, we forget why we are there. These are a few of many clues that we are not as young as we once thought.
The unforgiving mirror tells the truth about where you are in life. Accepting what you see is the first step toward discovering and being at peace with this new phase of life. If you are not at peace with what you see in the mirror, you will soon gravitate toward your recliner and watch TV for most of your waking hours. You can become cynical, angry, and difficult to be around. Perhaps, you know some people like that.
However, those who can accept what they see in the mirror and decide to remain active in body and mind as long as they are able, join a growing number of people who are “active seniors,” or better yet, “productive seniors.” You rarely find them at home unless they like gardening. Yes, they have the scars and bruises of life, physical afflictions, and the annoying problems of aging. Still, they are committed not to let those things get in the way of their golf games, swimming, workout at the gym, travel, or volunteer work.
This wonderful gift of aging is evident by being active, curious, flexible to change, and passionate about life as a senior. Yet, even active, productive seniors can miss the true gift of aging if their eternal future is uncertain and lacks an assured hope and peace. At some point, all earthbound activities do come to an end (Job 14:8).
However, some people decide not only to have an active life as an older senior but seek to enjoy the lasting gift of aging—the presence of Christ in their lives. They embrace this lasting gift by a lively and personal relationship with Him. Enjoying this relationship, they continue to learn to be thankful for everything, no matter what life has in store for them. They have heaven’s song in their hearts and upon their lips. Prayer becomes their breath of life and the Bible their daily comfort as they listen to God’s voice.
Out of the rich treasury of lifelong experience, they are happy to share this gift of aging with others, particularly with family. Oh, yes. They have learned to laugh, not only at themselves but at adversities, knowing God has everything under His control. This true gift of aging is something that wrinkles and sagging skin can never take away. Each day they smile at what they see in the mirror and are humbly thankful for God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10).