During the homecoming weekend of my sophomore year in college, a group of men in their early thirties asked if I would let them onto the freshman girls’ floor of which I was Resident Assistant. After obtaining permission from my director, I let them walk around, cautiously listening from my room to their conversation. They loudly reminisced about stupid things they’d done during their college years on that floor (many of which involved bodily fluids). I was annoyed and couldn’t wait for this strange encounter to end. But, after all, they were old.
This summer my husband and I took our three children back to the same Alma Mater for a quick walk around (it only takes up a square mile) to reminisce and explore the outdoor changes. We couldn’t go indoors (thanks, COVID) but still got to walk our children by the frisbee field, chapel, and the bell tower where we shared our first kiss. Our stories were a little less risque than the guys who tromped onto my freshman girls’ floor, but I realized as we walked away from the campus: we are now the “old” ones. Yet much to the chagrin of my nineteen-year-old self, I am ok with that.
Age is, of course, relative. Some might consider my husband and me to be young, barely having crossed the bridge into our thirties. As my children grow older and enter elementary school, however, I feel distanced from young parents bringing home their first newborn, tired-eyed and unsure.
The western society in which I live glorifies youth. We put serums on our eyes and work our bodies to hide the signs of gravity. We consider it a compliment to be told, “You look like you’re just out of high school!” forgetting that no amount of filters or botox can change that each morning we wake up a little bit older.
In contrast to a youth-obsessed culture, however, Proverbs 20:29 reads, “The glory of young men is their [physical] strength, and the honor of aged men is their gray head [representing wisdom and experience]” (Amplified Bible).
We are all somewhere on the line between that first gulp of air and our last, quiet one. We don’t know the scope or sequence of our days, but we can lay our lives into the care and trust of the one who created us, simply living each day to the fullest. As I grow older, I am trying to surround myself with the women who see aging as a blessing. Women who embrace each season with its different gifts and challenges, and from whom wisdom seems to fall like leaves in autumn. Although we may lose our strength, or find it more difficult to maintain, with each passing day, we can glorify God with our minds by sharing where our life experience meets his scriptures.
In this in-between time of youth and age, I am also learning to embrace God’s unique gifting to me. For example, in my early twenties, I strived to be an extrovert, believing that constantly surrounding myself with people would be the only way to gain friends and have a meaningful life. However, more time on earth and more interactions with wise mentors gives me the confidence to embrace my love for people while acknowledging my need for quiet reflection. An evening of journaling and reading leaves me more energized than a night out with friends. I still enjoy the night out with friends – I just need a little recovery time. I am so thankful for the wisdom, and subsequent peace age has brought me.
What has aging taught you about yourself? If you’re a list maker, I encourage you to sit down with a blank pad of paper and your favorite writing utensil. If you’re a verbal processor, take a great listener for a walk. If you’re a deep thinker, find a lake to sit by as you ponder. What strength do you have right now as a result of your youth? What wisdom do you have as a result of your age? What does the balance tell you about where you are on your earthly journey, and how can you glorify God through your current place?
Heavenly Father, we thank you for our time on earth. Please give us the peace to accept where we are currently and the wisdom to embrace our future. Thank you that Jesus Christ walked in our mortal shoes, feeling the weight of a perishing body, giving up his life so we can spend eternity with you. May we bring you glory in every phase and every age. Amen