"I've done my research, ladies, and growing old, it's not pretty." I was a young mom at the time and the speaker's ominous warning, though intended to be funny, filled me with dread. Who wants to grow old? Especially when it's as bad as all that? No one, me included.
Fast forward a few years (or more). I am today in, or at the very least on the cusp of, the stage of life we were warned against, and, yes, the speaker was indeed correct--there are some, shall we say, unpleasantries. Hormones, that extra weight around the middle, wrinkles, graying hair, and did I mention hormones? This is also a time of transition for many of us, an emptying nest and aging parents, for example, and with transition often comes its own kind of heartache.
I have to say, though, that for all its unique difficulties and changes, I kind of like life here in the middle years. There are good things, aspects to be enjoyed, not the least of which being that my kids can not only bathe and dress and cook for themselves but they can also drive themselves where they need to be, can I get a big YES and AMEN.
Seriously, though, here are three facts of life in the middle years that I appreciate...
1. I gain perspective. I like glancing back over the course of my life and seeing both foolishness and wisdom and in and through it all the Lord's sovereign grace at work. Oh, the stuff I once thought was so very important, crucial even, I now know to be insignificant and silly! This kind of perspective comes with time, with maturity--hello, with age!
2. I grow in humility. Quick disclaimer: I am not claiming to be humble nor to have achieved humility. Not at all! But, as I gain perspective and I see my silliness played out over the course of time and the Lord's sovereign will, I am humbled. Y'all may not believe this but I have been known to hold an opinion or two or ten. I might have been rather rash and maybe even arrogant in my proclamation of such. As I grow in grace, I learn to give others the benefit of the doubt, to be slow to speak and quick to listen, to hold my convictions tightly but my opinions humbly. This is a good thing and it comes to me as I gain perspective through time and the Spirit's gracious conviction.
3. I am more comfortable in my own skin. Take a quick visual survey of a group of teenaged girls of your acquaintance. I daresay they are all sporting a nearly identical hairdo. Nothing wrong with that but I think it speaks to a deeper insecurity that seeks to be fulfilled by identifying with someone else just like us. I followed this same insecurity for years; still do sometimes! Where are all the other stay-at-home Bible-teaching reformed moms of four teenaged sons?!?!! Surprise, surprise, there's not many of us. I am learning, oh so slowly at times, to pursue contentment in my vocation and not yours. The joy and contentment and peace I find there in my place being who I am, well, that's a far more effective weapon against insecurity than any amount of brash self confidence or positive self talk. Again this is a good thing and it has taken time, years, decades, to take root in me.
I do not mean to insinuate that these are lessons that can only be learned after 45 years of living nor that I have in fact learned them after 45 years years of living. Rather this is how I see the Lord's grace at work in me in my middle years and I rejoice in it. I am grateful for the gift of age and for the perspective, humility, and contentment it teaches me daily.
So here's a shout out to my sisters and friends also toiling along in these, the middle years. Do you see these same blessings of this stage of life? Are there others you'd like to add to the list? And to my younger friends, be encouraged. Do not despair over growing older. There is only more grace! There is much to anticipate and enjoy! The Lord is faithful at each stage of life, yes and amen.