Perhaps you remember the story about the woman who dropped in on her daughter-in-law, unannounced, and found the girl standing inside her front door, naked.
“Why aren’t you wearing any clothes?” the older woman asked.
“I am waiting for my husband,” the young wife replied. “This is his favorite outfit. It is my Love Dress. And since he will be home soon, I think you should leave.”
Confused (and more than a little embarrassed), the mother-in-law drove away. But by the time she got home, her discomfort had faded, and she realized that her daughter-in-law might be onto something. Which is how, 30 minutes later, her husband arrived home to find her naked in the foyer. “What on earth are you doing?” the man sputtered.
“I am wearing my Love Dress!” his wife beamed. “Do you like it?”
“I do,” he said, after a beat. “But…it needs ironing.”
I know, I know. Bad joke. But it tees up today’s post, which is about the merits of aging.
Getting older is not something we value today. Whether you’re into Botox or wrinkle creams, hair restoration or hair removal, or maybe even that new body-shaping thing where you lie down and let some doctor paddle you with electromagnetic pulses (“One session equals 20,000 crunches!”), chances are good that you’ve plunked down at least some cash to waylay Father Time. We all have. Globally, we’re expected to spend upwards of $216 billion on anti-aging treatments by the end of 2021.
(That’s billion. With a “B.”)
But hey. I’m not judging. To quote my former pastor, when someone asked whether or not women should wear make-up (who asks that sort of thing??), “If the barn needs painting, paint it.”
So again: You’ll get no finger-pointing from me, no matter how many nips, tucks, or paddles you want to endure. I would, however, like to offer a different perspective on aging–one that was on vivid display a few weeks ago, when I had the privilege of connecting with 17 other women at the Club31Women Writers’ Retreat. Our ages ranged from 21 to 73, with yours truly clocking in as the second oldest one there.
We’d barely unpacked our suitcases when one of the 30-something gals–one of the fresh-faced, wrinkle-free, dewy-complexioned young writers–asked if I had time to talk. My first thought was that she must like my outfit, but then I realized that 1) we were not in middle school, and 2) I was wearing running clothes. And as we got to know one another (and she admitted that she was looking for things like “sage advice” and “godly wisdom”), I had to confront the stark truth: My cute young friend wanted to spend time with me because I am old.
(Okay. I know 56 is not really that old. But remember when you were 30 and you thought that 60 was practically dead?)
As the two of us dialogued–and as as I watched other women forge intergenerational connections during the retreat–I realized that Scripture is right. Getting older is not such a bad thing.
Psalm 92 talks about flourishing in our golden years, with the promise that we will “bear fruit in old age” and always stay “fresh and green.”
Job points to the the practical benefits that come with more birthday candles: “Is not wisdom found among the aged?” he asks. “Does not long life bring understanding?”
And the book of Proverbs calls gray hair (and by that, I’m pretty sure the translators meant “roots”) a crown of splendor.
All of this is good stuff. But I think my all time favorite getting-old promise (and the one we can all pray will be made real in our lives!) is Proverbs 4:18. Here’s how The Message puts it: “The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine.”
The longer they live, the brighter they shine.
Honestly? I’ve tried a bazillion different night creams; none of them even come close to delivering that. But God can.
And He does.
Because unlike in the physical realm–the one where cells die, bodies decay, and we’re forever having to go back and repaint the barn–the spiritual realm offers fresh vigor and strength. What begins with salvation (when we become “new creations“) only gets better with time as we are literally renewed day by day.
It’s like exfoliating. Only way better.
In part two of this post, I’ll dig a little deeper into inter-generational friendships, particularly the life-giving kind. For now, though, I want to ask you a few questions.
If you’ve made it past halftime in life (and you can define that one however you want), are you sharing your wisdom with the next generation? Are you bearing fruit? Are there younger people with whom you “do life”?
And if you’re on the younger end of the spectrum (like, if you basically never use Facebook), are you open to connecting with someone who has what we might call a “more seasoned” perspective?
If your answer to those queries is no, consider asking God to bring some new friends into your life. Keep alert to folks who are younger (and older) than you. And be open to the surprises God might have in store.
And in the meantime, if you are one of those fresh-faced young gals and you see someone like me while you’re out buying organic sweet potatoes to puree for your toddler, feel free to tell us how good we look. Just say: “You’re glowing! You look almost…shiny!”
We’ll know what you mean.
May we be people who flourish as we mature. May we bear fruit, even in our old age, and always stay fresh and green. (Psalm 92:14)