Aging

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Me and my Mom about 3.5 years ago.

 

I’d always knew I would get old.

I always promised myself I’d age gracefully.

Working in retail, I saw my fair share of women willingly augmenting their physical bodies in a vain effort to stay young-ish. I saw plenty of examples of plastic surgery gone wrong. I really didn’t have any interest in going that route, nor do I now, but I understand the fear that drives women to want facelifts, tummy tucks, boob jobs, and such. I do understand.

Getting old is . . . interesting.

It’s odd to realize I’m middle aged. It’s odd to realize there are lots of people younger than me, not in the nursery, but in my workplace. (Be that out in the world, or at home.) I’m no longer the new generation full of hope and promise. I’m the generation thought of as strange and boring by the new generation. It’s odd how much I still feel eighteen in my head. And it’s odd how much I deny, subconsciously, that I’m middle aged until something makes me realize it like telling a story about myself from twenty years ago, or talking about my favorite movies or music, or when my celebrities start dying off.

Fashion becomes an even bigger challenge. I see other women who work to keep up with the trends and it makes them appear as‘current’ older woman. I like that. They look awesome. Then I pick up a fashion magazine and it makes me feel tired. I just don’t want to fight to stay trendy anymore. I see something that says “such and such is right out” and I think, “but I like my such and such.” Oh. I see why there are so many people who aren’t trendy. They liked ponchos. They liked flared jeans. They just don’t feel like keeping up with what is the newest and greatest anymore.

Not to mention, as I get older and seek to age graciously, covering up becomes the better part of valor. The realization that older women like pearls and sweater sets makes sense. Sigh. Getting old is . . . interesting.

Have you ever laughed at your parents’ complaints about technology? Or maybe you complained about your grandparents not keeping up with texting? I’m here to tell you that it’s hard to keep up. You want to see what all the young people in your life are up to, but that means learning something new. Learning something new, with it’s own lingo, it’s own rules, isn’t nearly as much fun as it used to be. It’s seems much nicer to just stay where you’re comfortable and confident. I had my first experience asking a young person how to make something work on my phone the other day. See, old age is setting in. lol.

Life gets scary as I get older. My skin isn’t what it was. I’ve twice now looked in the mirror early in the morning and wondered why my Mom is over. Even my phone mistakes my mother for me.

There are health problems to face. If I’m this tired at 35, what is 65 going to be like?

I know more and have seen more and that only frightens me more. I’ve read history and can see what happens to a country on the path we’re on. Teens are just crazy. This generation’s music is bad.

Many rainbows have been polished off this life by sin and suffering. Dreams have been set aside. And on top of all of that, comes the realization that it won’t get easier only harder.

For the first time in my life, I considered coloring my hair for age reasons. I’ve thought about coloring my hair blue for fun, but the other day I thought about it due to gray hair. Passing on that idea, I felt a sudden pity for all those plastic surgery women.

I understood.

As a woman seeking Christ, it’s very intimidating to realize visually that yes, physical beauty is fleeting. If you have done nothing to build your character you have nothing to stand on. Growing old gracefully isn’t about accepting your gray hairs and wrinkles. It’s about developing a godly character that continues to grow in spiritual beauty as your body continues to sag towards death. And trust me, that’s a much more taxing challenge than keeping up with a proper beauty regiment. No wonder women would rather just get a facelift and pretend they’re young. Without character, old age is only scary and ugly.

So what do I do? As a woman who realizes she’s no longer a young lady, but is now a middle-aged, what do I do? The same thing I did as a young lady! I look to older women. I watch my Moms. I watch the older women in my church. I see how they dress, carry themselves, tend to their older relatives, love their husbands, and keep their homes. I ask questions. I get help.

This makes me thankful for Christ’s work, for prayer, and for all the wonderful women in my church that are walking this road ahead of me. What would I do without them?

Facing middle-age when I’ve been a young woman for the last 15+ years is a bit terrifying. The hard work of growing my godly character to stand strong, by God’s grace alone, as my physical body crumbles feels overwhelming. Where do I find hope? God is good and generous. He feeds us, chastises us, and guides us. He will never leave us or forsake us. And this life isn’t my goal. Staying young and fit and trendy and up-to-date isn’t the path God has set me on. He has promised to resurrect my body after death and promised that I may dwell with Him forever in heaven. That’s my goal. Not staying physically attractive.

(I feel I should put a disclaimer here: I know plenty of godly women who color their hair, keep up with trends, and maybe even get some work done on their faces and bodies. I don’t think those things are inherently sinful. I believe they fall under Christian Liberty and if you enjoy them to God’s glory and with a clear conscience, I have no problem with them. I’m more looking at it personally. I may color my hair someday, but I want it to be because I think it’ll be fun, not because I’m trying to make up for a lack of character or out of fear.)

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24 thoughts on “Aging

  1. Such an encouragement. Youth is such an idol. To combat it, I have tried to limit my access to social media and to replace it with better things(i.e. God’s wisdom, silence, what voices I listen too). It seems like for me, the seasons of life, I have to re-adjust. I still have the young voice in my head as well. I know that I am getting older because of how I listen to music now. There is so much to embrace in getting older. In youth, you had health, did not have to worry about what you ate, but as you age, you realize how much of life is really a dot. I love that quote that I need Heaven on my eyeballs at all times. I am not there yet but age drives me there. You speak wisdom! Thank you!

    • I’m so glad this was an encouragement! Our culture seems to be very youth oriented and I always thought that I’d done a good job being balanced about it. Now that I’m dealing more directly with Middle age, I realized I wasn’t as ready as I thought. Yes. Heaven must be in our eyes always! Xoxo!

  2. This is such an encouragement, and so true! I still feel like a teenager in my head too. And the realization that I’m almost 30, and all the babies in church are now graduating high school, and that I haven’t been that age for 10 years now, can be rather depressing at times. 😉 How very thankful I am for God’s promises and His loving care, and for dear friends like you who always remind me and encourage me in those truths. The older I get, the more I realize how fleeting this life is, and how important it is to set your sights on heavenly things, not the passing, earthly things. Thanks for sharing this! 🙂 Love you!!

  3. I love your thoughts here! I’m sort of a rarity in that I look forward to aging and am actually excited to get gray hair…so far. 😉 I am only in my early twenties and I’m sure I’ll reach a point where it’s scary and alarming and I have to wrestle with it, even if only a little. It’s good to remember these things and I’m thankful for Christian women going before me on this path as examples – like you! 🙂

    • I always felt that way too! I love gray hair and thought I’d be excited about my own, and I am. But, it’s much scarier than I thought it would be, and it also reviled to my trust in my flesh. God is so kind to slowly peel away our trust in ourselves. He can even use extra gray hair! 🙂 What would I do without other Christian women??? XOXO

  4. Abby, I can’t believe you are seeing yourself as middle-aged at 35. That might have been true when the life span was around 70. But my own grandparents lived well into their eighties. And we just buried your grandmother by marriage – at 101. Up until the last few months, she was full of life, laughed easily, and could come up with statements we could giggle over. She found joy in each family member that showed up. I’m 78, your aunt by marriage and often say I still feel 35, a very happy time in my life. I thoroughly agree with your desire to grow old gracefully, and that is a major goal for me. I’ve not tried physical enhancement through plastic surgery, and I use a cane to help my balance. And yes, I now wear a wig because time and health issues have taken my hair away. But the wig is gray. And I love being active!

    However, I hate to see you already focusing on aging. You have much to give, and I pray you will look forward to many more years and experiences with children in the family before you even THINK aging in the ways you described above. Keep laughing and planning, doing some yard and housework, and writing. I love you!

    • 🙂 Well, I kinds see middle aged as like 35-55 or 60. I don’t really see myself as a young woman anymore. And don’t worry, I haven’t given up on life or anything. I love my life and all it has to offer and have plans on being a very cool old lady! 😉 I think a lot of this comes more from wrestling with some of the physical sides of not being 18-25 like skin not being the same, and yes gray hairs. And thinking through those things. I love you lots!

  5. Ok, first of all, you are not middle aged unless you plan to die in your mid sixties. I plan to still be alive at that point, so please broaden your horizons. Second of all, how you feel now may or may not have a bearing on how you will feel in 10 years. I found that there is some truth to the saying, “Life begins at 40.” Much in my life did not really come together in any sort of cohesiveness until I was quite a bit past your present age. I like myself a great deal more now than I did in the early part of my adulthood.
    I think part of your musings have to do with having had a pretty hard year, and I am sure there are days when you wonder if this is as good as it gets. I am here to tell you, not necessarily. You are learning all the right things to make the next few decades better in many ways. Chin up, child (you will always be a younger woman to me), the best is yet to come, most likely in this life, but certainly in the next one.
    An amusing perspective on the whole gray hair thing. I have decided to embrace mine, and am working to transition from brunette to silver without the skunk look (which translates into more dye now, ironically). It has been interesting that young women and most men (who notice) have given me a resounding thumbs up on the new look. But the women my age who dye their hair think I am crazy, and kind of resent me, as if I am breaking a sacred trust. It funny!

    • Hahn! I think I mean middle aged as more like 35 – 60. It’s not so much that I have some sort of thought that I might die at 65, it just that I’m not really a young lady anymore, more a middle aged lady, or a young middle aged lady. lol. I actually look forward to my 40’s. I think they’ll be good years. I love that you’re going to the gray. I think it will be lovely and you’re doing a great job avoiding the skunk. 🙂 Yes! The best is yet to come. Always my attitude! I love still looking at the world with wonder. I think some of my issues are finally understanding the fear women deal with when facing old age, but I have so many wonderful examples of women who “didn’t go quietly into the night.” Like you! And btw, you’ve never even once ever seemed old to me. You do such a great job dressing, living, loving, that I follow humbly in your footsteps! 🙂

  6. Abby,

    Age is a mental thing, not a number. It is what you allow it to be or it can define you and limit you. I have found that my gray hair and old bones are urging me to run faster, to live better and to seek out all of the blessings of life.

    I’m 46 and the actuary tables state that people in my career field die at 67. I got just 21 years left and there is so much to see, explore, and accomplish that I am now learning to see my aging as something that spurs me on to more.

    I know the illness can sap the strength right out of us, but ever day of life is another opportunity to make a difference in the world. Now I challenge you to wash the gray out of your hair and do something fun and worth while. As for me, I’m going to take a nap.

    • I’ve always looked at age as a mindset meaning it’s mostly in your head. I think I’m wrestling with the fact that our bodies do show age and it surprised me how suddenly I understood women who do fight it even if I make a different choice. I plan to embrace aging and enjoy it!

  7. I agree!!! I refuse to dye my hair because another family member insists on telling me – again- “Wow, you DO have gray hair.” I just look at them, smile, and say, patting my hair, “Isn’t my natural hair glitter just fabulous!!!!??? It is so sparkly. I love it!” Hahaha .. My kids think it is great. My husband actually likes it. And I want my sons to see age as lovely. I never want my daughter to feel insecure because I instilled in her a fear of aging. God’s word is clear. Aging is a blessing. That is what I work to do.bis see THAT, and to show other aging people around me how much purpose they have, how important they are, no matter age, occupation, whatever.

  8. This was really encouraging, even to a “younger” woman. I understand where you’re coming from and how hard it is, but it is such a joy to see how you’re moving through it. There’s so much still ahead of all of us. And anyway, you’ll always be the same stylish, awesome cousin I’ve always looked up to.

  9. Peter’s words in 1 Peter 3:4 bears out your point regarding aging gracefully with a good character, saying, “let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart”. That gentle and quiet spirit is what marks a dignified woman. I’m very thankful for the older women in my life who model this for me on a regular basis!

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