Hitting a decade birthday is a good time to pause and reflect, and though mine is still a few months away, I am pausing and reflecting. While I am in the midst of raising children, my parents, in-laws, and their peers are reaching milestones of their own: caring for their parents. It is now not an uncommon conversation to overhear at church functions: the 50’s crowd swapping stories and encouragement about helping their particular parents’ situations. So many different ailments, so many different situations, and so many different types of elderly people.
I wonder not only what our situation will be when it is our turn — that is likely a good 30 years away again. But, what about another 20 or 30 on top of that? What sort of elderly person will I be? Of course a large part of the situation will depend on circumstances and what my particular physical or mental ailments will end up being. But what of the different temperaments? Will I be a sweet old lady, grateful and encouraging up to her dying day? Or will I be a fault-finding, cranky old lady?
When whatever my infirmities will be come upon me — no matter the age at which it happens — what will it do to me? Can hard circumstances turn you into someone you were not? Or do they reveal who you actually were by removing your defenses?
Affliction will come, sooner or later, and what will it show? If how I respond then will be simply a magnification of how I respond now to minor irritations and inconveniences, then I doubt I’ll be a sweet old lady.
Listen to this post!
Last year I went to two funerals. I listened to the stories of lives well lived. I wondered when my time comes, will people — will my family — overflow with good stories, or will they have to dig deep to put a good face on it? What stories will they tell?
Whatever those stories may be, one thing is certain: I am living and writing them right now. What sort of story is it?
What story do I want told at my funeral? Whatever it is, now is the time to start living it.
Do I want to be remembered for crankiness or for joy? For annoyance and stress or for love and kindness? What temperament dominates me now? What atmosphere dominates my home? If I died soon, would my children have more memories of discipline or of affection? Of frowns and distracted “uh-huh”s or of smiles and shared laughter?
What commendation do I hope for at the end of my life? Is it not “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master”? It is. Therefore, now is when I am to be a good and faithful steward.
Last week I read 1 Timothy 5 in this light. What sort of woman is qualified to be supported by the church in her widowhood?
- One who has been the wife of one husband
- One who is known for good works
- One who has raised children
- One who has shown hospitality
- One who has cared for the saints’ physical needs
- One who has been devoted to good works and service.
And there is always Titus 2, telling us what older women are to be like:
- Reverent in behavior
- Not slanderers or gossips
- Not slaves to much wine
- Teachers of younger women
And what is it that younger women are to be doing, preparing to themselves be older women?
- Love their husbands and children
- Be self-controlled
- Be pure
- Work at home
- Be kind
- Be submission to their own husbands
That is, if I do not devote myself to these qualities, I am giving people cause to revile God’s word. If I am to glorify God, enjoying Him and preparing to be with Him for all eternity, then the only way to do that is to walk in the way He has laid out and learn to love it, make it my own.
And so as I ponder the path ahead at this milestone birthday of my own, living in fellowship with my children, living life on purpose, living intentionally rather than idly, living for the long haul rather than the moment’s convenience and ease, becomes clearly needful rather than theoretically ideal.