I reckon three and a half decades is long enough to have an opinion on old age. Here goes.
This blog is about growing younger on the inside. The implicit antithesis is that we’re growing older on the outside. Duh. But since I’ve just had a birthday I thought I’d dedicate a post to aging in the traditional outer body sense of the term.
It really is an outer body experience for me. The kind where you look at yourself from the ceiling and know that it’s your body down there, but you know it in a surreal, detached sort of way. I suppose it’s because I’ve never known the answer to the question, ‘How old do you feel?’ I’ve never felt an age. I’ve always just felt like me. I’ll bump into an old school mate in a mall and think, ‘Whoa, he’s aged!’ Next thought: ‘And… he’s thinking that about me!’ So there’s cognitive, sobering realisation – but not much emotional or behavioural follow-through.
What, then, should we make of getting wrinkles and all that stuff? Should we feel it? Should it be depressing? I’ve never been one of those girls who gets offended when people ask me how old I am or if they can look through my handbag. But should I be? Should I cave in to cover-girl vanity and try get myself photoshopped?
Here’s my five bucks on aging:
- Everybody’s doing it. We’re all moving into the future at exactly the same rate. Sixty seconds a minute. And Physics and the Fall have predetermined that those mounting minutes will take their toll. So if you feel like you’re getting old, you are. But so are seven billion other people. Yay for not being alone!
- Make an effort. Aging is inevitable. No pseudo-miracle surgery will ever change that. But still, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). If it’s in good nick, so much the better for the Kingdom. So drink cranberry juice and exfoliate with the best of ‘em. While you’re here on the planet, you might as well make yourself as useful as possible.
- Don’t worship yourself. In case you missed it in the first two points: you’re getting old. Now get over it. Like it says, ‘Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewellery, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.’ (1 Peter 3:3-4)
- Don’t blow what’s left. I think birthdays freak some people out because it reminds them that perhaps they haven’t done all they wanted to do, been all they wanted to be. No point going there. Repent, if necessary. Then focus. What will you do with the decades ahead? John Piper puts it well: don’t waste your life. ‘Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.’ (Proverbs 4:25-27)
- Don’t lose your sense of wonder. Never stop saying wow. That’s what it is to be young. ‘The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.’ (Proverbs 4:18) The chronology of God’s Kingdom is diametrically opposed to the passing of time in the earthly dimension. The best is yet to be. In life and in you.
What do you think? Old enough to comment?