Today is my birthday and I’m (ouch) 53 years old. Having a birthday is a great paradox for me.
I’m grateful for my life. God has greatly blessed me, way beyond what I deserve. I’m loved. I’m meaningfully connected with others. I do work every day that allows me to use my gifts and operate out of my passion. My eye is focused on eternity and not the temporal and most of the time I’m making investments that matter both in this world and the next. I have health and a body that allows me to go and do so much that I enjoy. And, God has graced me to hold loosely to these blessings so that if they were gone tomorrow I’d be okay. Mostly okay. There would be some grief over the loss of blessings but my greatest treasure is God and He’s promised that I will never lose Him.
But, and here’s the paradox, I don’t like getting older. I like having greater knowledge, wisdom, discernment, skill, and expertise, which by the way, don’t automatically come with getting older. But I don’t like having less energy, greater weight, diminished hearing and sight and more wrinkles. And, I “get it” that my dislikes are culturally based! In many cultures older men and women are honored and valued for their age.
My culture, the American and Western culture, exalts and even worships youth. Older folks are considered out of touch, behind the times and need to be replaced. And admittedly, every year is a greater challenge for me to stay current. Information and technology are moving at warp speed.
Nevertheless, I feel sad for people my age that succumb to the temptation to drink from the fountain of youth by masking their age with cosmetics, styles or behaviors. I don’t blame them because I “get it”. But I long for all of us older types to have peaceful acceptance of what is.
So there’s my paradox and it forces me to make a choice. By God’s grace I’m choosing to live the grateful life and by God’s grace I am (almost daily) contending with the cultural devaluing of my aging.
As I close I’m struck with a feeling of narcissism (a little too much focus on self). But, there it is, the battle to make much of God and not so much of me.