Thursday, February 19, 2009

Aging Gracefully

I thought I'd share my lastest monthly article in our church's senior adult newsletter, the "Joyful Tidings."

I’d heard the comment before, but someone quoted it again last week and I couldn’t help but reflect on the truth of the statement, “Growing old isn’t for sissies.” My mother-in-law also shared a humorous remark that her doctor had made to her recently. In trying to express the idea that her age was catching up with her just a bit and showing up in some health concerns, he told her, “You’re suffering from the birthday disease—too many of them.” Sooner or later, we all have to face the reality that we’re not getting any younger. The passing of time brings with it some new challenges as our bodies age. I’m reminded of a Spanish phrase I used to hear frequently in Argentina, “Los años no vienen solos.” That roughly translates into English like this, “The years don’t come unaccompanied.” In other words, each new year or birthday, while being a cause of celebration on the one hand, also brings with it new struggles and sometimes very undesired health issues.

How are we as Christians to respond to the aging process? What can we do to prepare ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually for what lies ahead? To keep our minds sharp, physicians tell us we ought to read and expose ourselves to new information, as well as engaging in mental exercises like crossword puzzles and word search games. Physically, we ought to eat a well-balanced diet, get adequate rest, and exercise according to our capacity to do so. Emotionally, we can reach out to family and friends and maintain and deepen existing relationships or seek to form new ones. Finally, to keep our spiritual lives healthy we need to engage in the disciplines of daily Bible reading and prayer, as well as fellowshipping with other Christians, sharing our faith as God provides us with opportunities to do so, and seeking to minister to the needs of others as well.

Nothing will help us ward off the effects of aging better than adopting the attitude of the psalmist in welcoming each new day with the declaration, “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” May that be our outlook and focus as we age gracefully.

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