The Trials Of Aging
Age and aging are interesting. When we are five, we can’t wait to be ten. When we are ten, we can’t wait to be sixteen so we can get our driver’s license. When we are freshmen in high school we can’t wait to graduate. When we start all over again in college we are already looking ahead to graduation. When we are dating, we can’t wait to be married. When we get married, we can’t wait to have children. When we have them, we can’t wait for them to get out diapers. Then, we can’t wait for them to be able to dress themselves. Then, we can’t wait until they drive so we do not have to take them to all their activities. When they are in their teens, we can’t wait for them to grow into their twenties.
You know, when I was twenty years old, fifty seemed old. But once I hit fifty it still seemed young. When we are younger, we are always looking ahead to something in the future that involves getting older.
Then, somewhere, it changes. When we get old enough, we look back to when we were younger and say, “Remember when…” When we are young, we can’t wait to get old. When we get old, we look back to when we are younger. We want to shout, “Stop this aging thing.” But we can’t. Age and aging are interesting. We view almost everything by how old we are.
All age groups have their trials. I used to think the trials of youth were challenging. But now I have a front row seat to watch aging. I watch those I love aging. I begin to see that aging has as many trials, and maybe even more, than youth.
Aging has its own trials. For example, with age comes an uncertainty. Not about the future, but about the decisions one makes in life. That once-sharp steely mind that was quick to see and analyze becomes uncertain about the simplest decisions. Gone are the days of confidence in one’s own choices. I am not referring to everyday things like what one may eat, but things like investments. Things like understanding Bible passages. Even the struggle to remember your own children and grandchildren’s birthdays. The mind, once so dependable, struggles to process these things.
Aging also brings the trials of health. The body that once was so strong and supple now shuffles when the person walks. The body that used to be so strong to lift now must depend on someone else. The body was strong in work and play. It was easy to get up and move. It was easy to mow the yard. The body was vigorous and never fatigued. Like the mind, the body begins to fail. It was once so dependable, but now it is just a challenge to get up in the morning. And healing from an injury--like a broken hip or broken arm--is so very slow. Even then, strength is never the same. Age affects the eyes and the hearing. Distinguishing colors like black and navy are hard. The hearing needs assistance. The eyes have cataracts removed. Neither of those were challenges in youth.
Age robs a person of their independence. As it becomes increasingly difficult to perform daily activities, the independence that was taken for granted is now cherished. It is compromised, if not lost. The car keys are laid aside. The aged move in with one of their children or into a care facility of some kind. Your person is no longer your person. Dignity is taken. Now your children lead and guide you. Now they are the caregivers.
However, while age and trials of aging are debilitating, age cannot take your spirit. Age cannot take your soul. Age cannot take away happiness. Age cannot rob one’s hope. But age sees something youth does not: “Heaven holds all to me!”
Yes, I have a front row seat. Like many have experienced before me, it is hard to see, but there is joy as well. It is the joy of a life well lived, filled with the fulness of Christ. It is watching all that this world once held so dear now meaning so little. Maybe the dream of life with the Lord is ever nearer.