“Growing old isn’t for sissies.” I hear those words almost every day from a friend of mom’s at the nursing home where she lives. Even though those words make me laugh at times, I also realize how true they are.
Growing old is NOT for sissies. The older we get, perhaps the wiser and more mature we get, but the challenges seem to get harder. We get aches and pains that we never had to deal with before. We often become the caregiver to an elderly parent or a spouse who is sick. We can’t see as well without our glasses or contacts, and we find ourselves saying, “Huh? What’d you say?” more frequently than we used to. We have to turn the TV up louder. We don’t sleep as well. Growing old is definitely not for sissies.
So how are we to grow old gracefully? I have had the opportunity to observe the elderly as I sit with my mom at the nurses’ station at her nursing home. The residents congregate in this area, and it has become mom’s favorite place to watch people come and go.
As I sit there with her, I have observed that people deal with aging differently. It’s made me step back and consider how I want to grow old. Some have no control over the way they behave and act and speak, but there are those who can control the way they look at life, even in their final years.
Some are bitter and angry about their circumstances. I see the bitterness on their faces and in the way they respond to others. But there are also those who are at peace with their age and thankful for whatever God has for them for another day on this earth. I love being around them. They shine, even though their bodies are wearing out.
I want to grow old gracefully like them, but how does one do that? I think Paul gave us the answer in Phil. 4:11 – “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” I need to learn to be content with where God has me today. If I haven’t learned to be content when I’m younger, I’m probably not going to be content when I’m older.
The key to learning contentment is trust – trusting my loving Father and His plan for my life, knowing that He has a bigger purpose than I can see in the moment.
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen…” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Are you growing old gracefully, regardless of whether you’re in your 20’s or 30’s or 50’s or 70’s or older? Can you say with Paul, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am”? I’m not there completely yet, but God is working on me.