PLAIN THOUGHTS: Growing older

Published 10:22 am Monday, September 27, 2021

By Judith Hensley

No one teaches us how to grow older. I’d like for someone to define for me when growing old begins? From the day we are born? After 21? 50? 60? 75?

Nobody ever says, “You’ve entered one of the toughest times of your life. Hold on and do your best each day.

So many things change as a person ages. Physical appearance is right at the top of the list. Wrinkles. Gray hair. Weight gain. Then there are the unseen physical changes. Aches. Pains. Lack of energy. Extra trips to the bathroom at night.

Perhaps the hardest thing about growing older is losing loved ones older than ourselves, and often many that are younger. It seems like looking in the obituaries is a roll call of relatives, friends, and acquaintances.

Before I make it sound like I don’t want to grow any older (still in my 60s) I readily acknowledge that growing older is a gift and a blessing. I don’t want to leave this world one day earlier than God intends me to be here. I want to run my race. I want to finish my course. I want to hear the Lord say to me on judgment day, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

There are some advantages to growing older that I’m beginning to discover as very good things. I expect the next decade to be the best years of my life. As we age, we discover those things which really are important. Relationship with God. Family. Friendships. Love. Health. Time well spent. Money enough to pay the bills and have some left over.

Little things also mean a lot. With two knee replacements I’ve given up high heels for any occasion. There are dressy flat shoes to be found. My foot comfort is far more important to me than someone else’s opinion of my style.

Fashion in general doesn’t have a stranglehold on me anymore. I ask myself these essential questions before appearing in public. Do I have on clean clothes? Am I color coordinated? (I’m still very old school in that regard.) Is my hair clean and combed? Do I feel comfortable in what I have on?

If I try something on more than once and don’t wear it, it’s time to go in my “give away pile.” There’s no use taking up closet space with something that isn’t going to look right or feel right the next time I put it on. I’d rather have ten outfits that feel good on, than thirty that make me miserable.

One of the most important things I’m still learning is that my time matters. Who knows how much they have left? I should make every single day count. I should try to live as God would endorse. I should be kind to others and help where I can. But it’s also okay to take time for myself to rest, to read a book, or to watch an occasional movie.

It’s also okay for me to say “No” when people ask me to do something they can do for themselves, or when my body is telling me I need to rest, or when I just simply don’t want to.

I’m getting free in my old age. I’m tired to living up to false expectations from people who don’t love me, trying to gain approval from people who don’t matter, and tired of wearing myself out for no good reason. If I want to be here for the long haul, I’m learning that growing older also means growing closer to God, growing wiser, taking care of those who actually need me, taking better care of myself, and enjoying every day as much as possible. In the end it will be a life well spent.