Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Aging with grace

This is a modified repost from on my personal blog from 2009. I've crossed the 50-year threshold since then, but it doesn't hurt to be reminded to be content with my age.

"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.


  1. The thought is nice. Maybe I should stop shaving. Could the duck dynasty look, be more glorifying? So we honor God's sovereignty by our hair care. This reminds me of the middle eastern guys who were adjusting to the scanty threads on Venice beach. The one sagely says to the other: Wouldn't they look better if they had berkas on.
    Like the head covering perspective. Just how much of the head does she cover?

    1. Or should we not wear makeup? I appreciate the thought...and as an 11-year cancer survivor, I'm thankful for every day that the Lord has given me! But I intend to live them looking as good as I can! And I don't think the fact that I hide the gray or try to "tweak" my appearance a bit with makeup is going to make anyone think I'm 35.

  2. Thank you for your perspective. I'll be 68 in January. Still working, I continue to color my hair; but, like you, I pray for my heart to be full of gratitude for each day He has ordained for me. And particularly because my mother is in her final days at age 91, I pray for that heart attitude into my waning years and days.

  3. I'm almost 39 and I decided to let my hair go back to its normal color and even go gray (which I don't have a ton of, but enough to be noticable). I also abandoned the use of make-up. Some of it is that I am sick of putting chemicals on my skins but mostly, I'm tired of society telling me what beauty is. My husband is happy with how I look and also with the extra money I don't spend at the salon. $100 or more every 8 weeks is a crock. The beauty industry feeds off the fear of getting old. I guess I'm really ok with it. I know I'm not even 40 yet, but gray hair = wisdom. Came over from Challies blog :). Great article.

  4. I understand. I am 51. I would like my hair to be it's normal greying color, but my husband wants me to color it. I have to do it at home, because salon prices are prohibitive. It is hard to keep it up.

    Do drop in and say hello!
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

  5. I don't see this author as setting a rule: no hair color; she's just pondering the choices. And there's nothing bad about that! I chose to stop coloring my hair at 55 and I feel good about it. Others can choose their own path, but it's worth examining our motives and fears.

  6. Thanks for the comments.

    As DWK said above, the issue isn't to color or not color but the motive. In addition to telling us our value is based on how young and beautiful we are. the culture also devalues, maybe even despises, the elderly. But God looks at the heart.

  7. I think the first comments miss the point of the article, and focus on the detail rather than the over arching argument: that we not disdain our age. No, there is nothing wrong with colouring our hair or wearing make-up, so long as we understand our motives.