“Gray hair is a crown of splendor,” says the writer of Proverbs, but most of us would just as soon avoid what it represents—growing old. So we do everything in our power to camouflage the symptoms; but the reality is that as the years go by, we gradually grow older, thereby proving the observation of my son that there are three periods of life: youth, middle age, and “My, you’re looking well today.”
You know that you’re not as young as you once were when you say you don’t need your glasses, but the truth is you need your glasses to find your glasses. You know you are getting there when your knees buckle but your belt won’t, when you are sitting in a rocking chair and you can’t get it going, when you tend to tell the same stories over and over and people are too kind to interrupt you and say, “You’ve told us the same story five times.”
Interested in knowing how to age gracefully so that you are a blessing instead of a bore? You can, and doing an acrostic on the word grace, here are five guidelines that are guaranteed to work.
The “G” in grace means get rid of the garbage.
Give up your grudges and resentments about how life hasn’t treated you well. Bring closure to the negative things and decide that your future will not be blighted by unpleasant memories of the past. Sure, you can’t go back and climb Mt. Everest or have another shot at running your company or raising your children differently, but you can determine that tomorrow will not be blighted by the mistakes of yesterday.
Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. Psalm 71:9
The “R” in the word prompts us to realize that your value doesn’t diminish in God’s sight with aging.
Some things like art, precious stones, and fine wine, only increase in value with age. You’re included. There is good news: While the world values the new and exciting, and discards the old, thank God your Heavenly Father doesn’t do that. Those who age are yet important to Him. In Isaiah 46:4 God made a great promise. He said, “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.”
The “A” in grace encourages you to appreciate and value your past life experiences.
Sometimes I learn that someone has had an exceptional life—he fought in the Battle of Leyte, liberating the Philippines, or was part of a medical team that invented a life-saving medication, and I ask, “Do your grandchildren know this?” Tell them, write it, do your memoirs while your mind is sharp. Tell them about great answers to prayer and situations which could have been disasters and God made the difference.
The “C” is grace shouts quite loudly. It says, “Continue to serve!”
To me, one of the greatest tragedies of our generation is that we have an army of men and women with experience, expertise, and wisdom who by and large have sat down in the rocking chair awaiting the grim reaper. Get off your back side and volunteer to do something you’ve always thought about and didn’t have time to do.
The “E” is a final reminder: “You can expect God to walk with you through the valley and up the other side.”
The Psalmist cried out, “Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone” (Psalm 71:9). And you can be sure the shepherd of your soul will never leave you. He abandons neither the tender lamb nor the old tough mutton whose feet are feeble and whose eyes are dim.
You can grow old gracefully. It’s the only way to go.
Resource reading: Psalm 71:1-24