The poem on a plaque, created by a son’s family for us, reads:
First we had each other – 8-12-61
Then we were blessed with – Ted and Terry
Then you found love – Ted and Deb; Terry and Caren
Then you blessed us with – Rachel, Daniel, Grace, Scott and Elizabeth
Now we have EVERYTHING!
“We grow too soon old and too late smart,” That’s a Pennsylvania Dutch saying--and it’s true! We learn a lot simply by living that would have been helpful to know when we started out. And if we are blessed with family and friends, like the plaque says, we have everything! But I thought I’d share some nuggets, hoping to help you navigate the golden years--which loom ahead, no matter your age.
1. Accept the fact that you are not in control. I want to be. I try to be. But stuff happens. I want my loved ones to be healthy and happy. But accidents and illnesses happen to the best of us. As I get older, I’m learning to accept it. And the upside is that I know anything that touches my life has been permitted by a Sovereign God. I can trust Him to help me through it, to even bring good through it. So even though I don’t expect it, I accept it.
2. Accept the fact that you cannot do the things you used to do. I must now pace my days, plan ahead. Or I pay the consequences. But I'm thankful for the energy I have. I may not be able to run with the deer, but I can walk with the turtles. I can write. I can pray. There’s plenty to do when I can’t do what I used to do or want to do.
3. Accept the fact that you need to make changes. Oh, we’re so independent. We refuse to accept help to cook Christmas dinner. It’s something we’ve always done. We drive through the night to our vacation destination. It’s something we’ve always done. (Now there’s something I’ve never done.) We enjoy shopping for that perfect gift. Well, maybe it’s time to take an easier route. Shop online. Make some changes, so you can enjoy the scenery on this journey of life.
4. Accept the fact that not everyone will like you. We try so hard to please everyone, but people’s perspectives differ. We hold different views on politics, religion, even eating habits. Just read Facebook posts. And sometimes differences fracture relationships. Of course, we need to practice forgiveness, but even after forgiveness, relationships may not be restored to the degree of closeness once enjoyed. We can’t beat ourselves up if someone pulls away; perhaps it frees us to embrace another.
5. Realize that you have wisdom to pass on to others. Church committees. Bible study groups. Grandchildren. Speak up. Offer your opinion. Often times what is rejected in the moment offers food for thought. Don’t be shy. Younger generations need to hear the perspectives of previous generations. We’ve learned a lot simply by experience.
6. Realize that you are loved with an everlasting love. Eternity awaits. The bones ache. The back hurts. The senses diminish. We wear glasses and hearing aids. Food doesn’t taste as good as it used to. Remember, it’s all temporary. Someday the misery will be history. In Christ, we will have new bodies. Heavenly horizons await. “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and have continued My faithfulness to you” Jeremiah 31:3 (The Amplified Bible).
7. Realize that some things are not as important as they used to be. Don’t agonize about whether or not a grandchild wins a game. After all, there may be greater strength of character gained through losing. The latest fashions are no longer as important as they once were. Taking a luxury vacation would be just too much work. Value faith, for it is God Who remains faithful, no matter what. Value family and friends, for relationships are more important than things.
8. Accept God’s grace to survive loss. Possessions, loved ones, favorite activities. Life is filled with things that may slip through our fingers. But God’s grace allows us to go on. A sense of God’s Presence assures you that you can handle even this. There is nothing you and God cannot handle together.
9. Accept the fact and be grateful that God has allowed you to attain this age. As we say in a Friends of the Heart skit, “Every birthday without a headstone is a milestone.” Appreciate the simple things—the glimpse of a fawn, a sunrise, a cup of tea. No matter our financial status or intellect or state of health, simple things make us smile.
So there you have it. And there’s lots more I could say. But I think that’s enough gold to mine for one day. Feel free to comment by clicking on the link below to share some of what you’ve learned simply through living.
“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4
Happy Labor Day!
Upcoming Friends of the Heart Engagements:
September 9 – Kim at Trinity United Methodist Church, Elizabethville; Janine and Shirley at Colonial Park Community Baptist, Harrisburg.
September 22 – Eastern Regional Churches of God Conference at Doubling Gap Center, Newville, “Just Say Yes—to God!”