"The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old." - Proverbs 20:29 (NIV)
I'll be 50 years old in November. 50!! I can't believe it!! I know some of you will be saying, "You're still a kid" while others will be saying, "Wow...that's old!". Honestly, I still feel like I'm in my 30's. I remember when I was a teenager....50 was OLD!! Huh....30 and 40 was old!! But, as I reached each milestone, it didn't seem so bad. Turning 30 didn't bother me and neither did turning 40. Coming up on 50, though, I'm doing a lot of praying. My life is over halfway finished (unless I live to be older than 100, which my maternal grandmother did so it's possible!). I'm no longer as young as I used to be, my waist is thicker, and, yes, my hair is turning gray (which I fight against every few weeks). I'm having a problem embracing this upcoming birthday.
Society glorifies youth. We are bombarded constantly with wrinkle cream and botox commercials. We look in the mirror and freak out over our laugh lines and eye creases. We color our hair (guilty!!). Americans spent over $10 billion (YES...BILLION!!) on cosmetic surgery and other procedures in 2010 (Jack Cafferty, CNN)...and that's during a recession! And that amount doesn't include gym memberships, weight loss purchases or the costs of going to the beauty salon or barbershop. We are a society obsessed with looking young and hanging onto our youth.
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with wanting to be healthy, keeping ourselves fit and strong, and looking good. I am saying we (I) should embrace the stage of life we're (I'm) in. Here in Proverbs, having gray hair is "splendor"! There's a saying - "With age comes wisdom" - and Job 32:7 (NIV) says the following: "Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom." As we get older, we get wiser, or at least we should. In Titus 2:2 (NIV), Paul wrote and said that older men should be "temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled and sound in faith, in love and in endurance." And in the next verse, that older women are "to be reverent in the way they live" and "teach what is good." No where in these verses does it say we're supposed to look as good or feel as good as we did in our youth!! I'd rather be wiser, more self-controlled, respected and have greater faith in my Lord, than to have a smoother face, smaller waist, or less aches and pains. Still have to pray about the gray hair, though!!
It's time for me to embrace 50. Hosea Ballou observed, "Forty is the old age of youth, fifty is the youth of old age." I LOVE IT! I'm as young as I'm ever going to be again. I'm stronger in my faith than I've ever been at any other time of my life. I'm proud to be a Christian. I'm less fearful. I'm more grateful for my family and friends. I'm less judgemental and more accepting. I'm wiser for the mistakes I've made. I'm as young as I feel!! I think Barbara Johnson stated it well: "Youth is not a time of life but a state of mind. It boldly takes risks, seeks adventure, hopes for the best, and displays courage. You are as young as your faith is strong." Sooooo....50....here I come!!!
"A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams." - John Barrymore
Dear Lord, thank You for the years You've given to me. Teach me to embrace this stage in my life. May I become stronger in my faith, closer in my walk with You. May I enjoy the benefits this age brings. Teach me to be more concerned with my spiritual, mental and physical health than with the outer shell. Remind me that beauty is only skin deep but a relationship with You goes much, much deeper and that is where my focus should be. In Jesus' name, Amen.