"But Mr. Weston is almost an old man. Mr. Weston must be between forty and fifty." from Emma by Jane Austen, chapter 4.
As the year is drawing to a close, I have been thinking about growing older, because I turned 48 this year. In Jane Austen's time, 40-50 years was the average life span, and she only lived to 42. Therefore, the above comment may not be as harsh as we would think. But today, 50 is not old given our 21st century life expectancy. In fact, I have heard some people refer to it as the new 30. So if 50 is the new 30, I'm still in my theoretical 20's. Then why am I still sometimes reluctant to admit my age? Conversely, why am I flattered on the rare times I get carded at the grocery store?
Maybe our culture encourages our infatuation with youth. The media has inundated us with the lie that "youth + beauty = happiness" or at least what passes for happiness. It's also interesting to note that the standard is different for women than for men. Men are considered attractive with graying hair, but I doubt the same applies to women. Have you ever counted the number of shades and brands of hair color that are available at the grocery store? When men have lines on their faces, it's considered rugged but not for women. Have you ever counted the number of products claiming to be anti-aging, anti-wrinkling, age-defying? That's not even taking into account the surgical options that are available today. Believe me, I know. I work as a transcriptionist for a plastic surgery practice.
As I begin to count the few white hairs that are becoming manifest and debate about buying a box of hair color, not that hair dye is intrinsically bad, what is my motivation? Do I want to buy into what the world says is of value or what God values? Do I want to just age gracefully (aka looking younger than one's stated age) or age with grace, taking joy in this time of life and not try to push back the clock, as if that were possible? Proverbs says Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised and Gray hair is a crown of glory. After all, isn't my age part of God's sovereign plan for my life? He decided the year of my birth. Not a decade before. Not a decade after. And if every hair is numbered, that includes the ones that are no longer black.
I pray that I would not be ashamed of my age. I pray that I would be thankful for every year of mercy and grace because each year is a gift from God. It's another year to know Him and another year to be transformed by Him. It's also another year closer to the day when I will see Him face to face.