I just remember thinking that I hoped I would grow old more gracefully...that I wouldn't do anything to look silly by trying to be someone I wasn't, but at the same time, not wanting to look older or frumpier than I needed to!
Easy thing to say when you're in your 20's, thin, healthy, newly married with the best of life yet to come.
Last weekend we went to the wedding of the daughter of some friends of ours. There were a whole ton of beautiful young people in their 20's...mostly skinny, lots of beautiful hair, and fresh looking smooth skinned faces. Oh, and so energetic.
I realized once again what has been on my mind for some time now: I'm nothing like them. I mean physically. Its been decades since I saw the scale read 118#. And every 5 weeks or so, on goes some more hair color. Its a constant battle to work on smoothing out the crows feet around my eyes and those awful lines that have begun to appear around my mouth, to say nothing of the myriad of lotions and potions I've tried to tighten up the sags under my eyes.
I no longer engage in a lot of the activities I did 35 years ago either: tennis, bicycling, visits to the gym. Nor can I wear the cute little skirts, shorts, or high heels any longer. My mission when shopping for clothes, in order of priority, is this: fit, comfort, fashion. Trying on jeans and bathing suits is a traumatic experience, reserved for rare occasions when I am totally alone and have lots of time.
And speaking of energy, my husband and I were both pathetic last Friday night, as we were just too exhausted from our day to even eat supper or go on our typical Friday night coffee date at Borders.
But its not just the physical changes that have become so apparent that remind me I'm getting older. Its all the things about family life and mothering that I miss so much. I wrote in an early blog post about how hard it was to let go of my kids. But I realize now it's more than just letting go that is so hard. It's the realization that a significant phase of life is forever behind me: packing the kids in the car for a family vacation, dressing my little boys and combing their hair, watching them grow through so many stages and being so excited at each new thing they learned, each new big word they tried, the endless summers filled with swimming and baseball. I miss dinnertime where we always were together and my three guys would compliment me on the meal in their corny way: "we worship the linoleum you walk on" as they would make bowing gestures with their hands.
Just when I think I've adjusted well to the transitions life has brought me, something reminds me of the indisputable fact that no matter how many years I might have left on this earth, the majority of them are behind me. Does anyone else think like this, or is it just me?
Now, just to be perfectly clear: I'm not afraid to die. I know this earthly life is only a very small part of my existence, and I am totally confident that whatever lies ahead is nothing but good. Eternity is a long time, and I have full assurance that I will spend it with God and my loved ones who loved Him, and I do look forward to meeting all the saints from ages past. My faith in Jesus Christ and His Word have sustained me through all of life's trials, and will usher me to my eternal home. So, that's not the issue.
The word "entropy" is one I learned a few years back. It is a scientific term that has made its way into the realm of sociology and metaphorically means basically that all things tend toward decay, disorder, and chaos. That's why we constantly have to pick up the house after the grandchildren have visited. Or keep the weeds under control in our gardens. Entropy is the reason we don't look younger and younger the older we get. So my point is this: Our earthly lives will only last so long, and even if we live to be 100, that seems pretty short to me in the scheme of things. And with each year that passes, the aging process will take a toll.
I don't care so much about getting old, in fact it beats the alternative, huh? But I don't want what goes along with it. I don't want to have health issues; I don't want to ache every morning when I get out of bed. I miss some of the things that used to be very much a part of my life when I was younger. When I go to bed at night, I need to feel I was productive in some way, or my life held some kind of meaning. I don't want to arrive at a place where I'm just existing because my heart is still beating.
None of us knows how much time we may have left on this earth, or what the future may hold for us. We can't dictate that. So the only question that seems relevant is this: "What will I do with TODAY?" I can choose to squander my time today, wasting it on laziness or fear, or anger, or worry, or indulging a critical spirit, for example. Or I can choose to "follow after the Spirit" which produces good fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) Praise be to God that He has provided a way to make each day meaningful as we go about our lives-- a way that pleases Him, helps others, and provides for our own satisfaction at the end of the day. Life is good, even as it quickly moves us through all its stages.