Have you ever been on Facebook and you see an article pop up on your news feed and just from the title you know you probably shouldn’t read it. You know that there couldn’t possibly be any good that could come from reading it, but you click on it anyway? Me too. The other day I saw an article entitled “29 Shocking Celebrities that used to be Smoking Hot” and yes, I clicked on it and read it. As I scrolled through picture after picture of “before” (“smoking hot”) and “after” (current) I began to wonder who put this slide show together, who is the person who could look at a current picture of Helen Mirren, Jane Seymour, Julie Andrews and Meryl Streep and believe that they have not aged beautifully? Oh, sure, they aren’t as young as they once were (no one is, duh) but if I can age half as well as these gorgeous women I will be thrilled.
Honestly, the article made me angry. I didn’t get angry because of our ridiculous obsession with youth and external beauty. No, we’ll save that for a different blog. I got angry because of our stubborn refusal to find value in being old. That’s right, I used the “o” word and some of you are trying your best not to be offended. In our culture old is not an adjective we ever want used to describe us. Don’t ever call anyone old. We need to revert back to spelling it the old English way so that it can be a 4 letter word again-olde. It is an absolute insult to say that someone is wearing old lady clothes. And down every cosmetic aisle at every drug store, grocery store and department store are creams, serums, cleansers and lotions that are age defying, youth enhancing, wrinkle reducing treasures that we dole out a small fortune for because we hope they will keep us from looking old. We even go to great lengths to come up with clever titles (Memaw, Nana, Gigi) just so that we will never, ever have to hear someone call us grandma, that would make us feel old.
This fear of aging is not something found in scripture. Quite the opposite. Proverbs 16:31 says “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.” Every single gray hair and “unsightly” wrinkle is the evidence that we have lived, that we have survived, that we have learned, that we are not who we once were but we are stronger, wiser, more Christ-like versions of ourselves. That is why Titus 2:4 & 5 instructs the older women to teach the younger women. They are to teach them how to relate to their husbands and their children and how to live wisely, how to be pure and do good. The older women have already walked that path and who better to learn from than someone who has been there and done that?
Unfortunately we don’t do a very good job of learning from those who are older than us. Even in the church we don’t seem to recognize the value of those who have lived longer and more than we have. We keep everyone nestled in their age appropriate silo from infancy to mature-adult, we have a group for every age. I fully understand that we are most comfortable when we spend time with people who are most like us. But staying comfortable isn’t a Biblical mandate. Learning from those who have gone before us is.
I firmly believe that our biggest obstacle from investing in the lives of those of a different generation is not that we have different interests, it is not that we think that they don’t have anything to teach us or us them, it is not even being judgmental or intolerant. I believe the biggest obstacle is our assumption that someone younger than I am would not be interested in what I have to offer. Likewise, we assume that there isn’t anyone older than I am that would want to take the time to invest in me. But that is just not truth. Look around you. Find someone who is older than you are and take an interest in them. Ask them questions. Show them you value them and their life experience. Most people are thrilled to share when they feel valued. The same is true for those who are younger than you. Show them you value them by listening to what they have to say and loving them unconditionally. Showing them you respect them will earn you the right to speak into their lives.
Don’t be afraid of getting older. We can’t all be “smoking hot” forever. But we can see every gray hair and wrinkle as another bit of wisdom that we can now pass on to others.
"Old Isn't a 4 Letter Word "
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