“Conscious aging is a new way of looking at and experiencing aging that moves beyond our cultural obsession with youth toward a respect and need for the wisdom of age” (Stephan Rechtschaffen, M.D.)
I recently had the privilege of walking my daughter down the aisle. Two weeks later we were celebrating my son’s engagement. I felt a joy and relief, knowing that they were happy and building their new lives.
But then, in a short space of time, I felt a sense of loss. I realised that the foundation of my life was shifting. I found it difficult to embrace the discord in my heart. It simply didn’t make any sense.
I’d spent so many years focussing on my children, and working to support all of us, that I hadn’t really thought about my own life. I became mechanical about my life cycles, seeing them as something outside of myself. I was participating in my life, but I didn’t allow myself the freedom to dream about my personal needs.
The turmoil I felt inside forced me to turn to the well-known paths of self-examination and rehashing past experiences. I thought about the different choices I’d made throughout my life and came to the conclusion that I was satisfied. I had no specific regrets or unfinished business.
I allowed myself time to make sense of what I was feeling and eventually came to the conclusion that it was okay to feel uncertain. I made peace with the fact that I was in a transitional period. My life was changing and I had to give myself permission to change my perspective on things.
I realised that I had never really thought about growing old. I had somehow short-circuited the process by dividing my life into three segments; birth, life, and death. I didn’t take into account that life could be broken up into smaller pieces, and that aging was a significant part of life.
The Bible describes aging as a normal part of life that includes honour, wisdom, and contentment.
Proverbs 16:31 (NIV)
Gray hair is a crown of splendour; it is attained in the way of righteousness.
Job 12:12 (NLT)
Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.
I found myself in a space where I pondered about the meaning of life. I wondered if my life was worthwhile and for the first time ever I thought about the kind of legacy I would leave behind.
Initially I questioned my feelings of relief and freedom. There was a fleeting moment where I actually felt selfish because I was thinking about myself and my own needs, seemingly all the time. But then came an excitement and apprehension to see where this new phase in my life would take me.
Isaiah 46:4 (ERV)
And I will still be carrying you when you are old. Your hair will turn grey, and I will still carry you. I made you, and I will carry you to safety.
I’ve realised that life has a reset button.
Just when I thought my life was over, I got the opportunity to start all over again. I am so grateful for the work God has done in my life.
He’s softened my hard edges; He’s tempered my personality. He’s allowed me to make mistakes; He’s replaced my youthful foolishness with wisdom. He is so faithful!
For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned, it is the season of the harvest. (The Talmud)
Old is authentic. Old is genuine. Old is valuable. (Billy Graham)
There is a lot of fun in my current situation. I have re-awakened some of my craziest dreams and I have started making a list of all the things that I still want to do.
I have made a conscious decision to be content as I grow older.
I want to be a godly old lady.
I want to be gracious and enjoy my days in the company of people that I respect and love.
I will have no regrets!
Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art. (Eleanor Roosevelt)