I recently had a birthday. I must admit I view birthdays differently than I once did. While I remember anticipating the excitement of being “double digits” at 10, being a real teenager at 13, getting to drive at 16, or reaching the real entry to the adult world at 21, something happened after that.
At 30, I questioned whether I was on track with life, in comparison to other people my age. At 40, I searched for meaning beyond my so called accomplishments. At 50, I began to ponder the numbers of aging, realizing that even if I lived to be 100, my life was half gone! A sense of panic began to set in.
And now … I’m starting to listen to Frank Sinatra singing about life being like “fine old wine, from the brim to the dregs.” The dregs!?! Wait a minute! I don’t want my life to be “old wine” and I certainly am not interested in it being “dregs!”
What causes the shift in our thinking? What is the difference between the me of my youth and the me of what some would consider my “non-youth?” It’s perspective. When I was young, I did not look back. I looked forward. The nine year old me looking forward to being ten would not have longed to be six again.
Somewhere along the way, we start to believe the commercials that label wrinkles and gray hair as something that reveals we are getting older, and “old age” isn’t going to be pretty. People start to make jokes about signs of aging. If we manage to conceal our true age, we get treated to comments like “you certainly don’t look that old!” There it is again … that word, OLD.
So what is old age? When I taught a nursing class on aging, I did an interesting experiment with my students. I asked them to write the age they were. I then asked them to write the age at which they would consider someone old. It was intriguing to note the perspective. Every person chose an age at least 20 years older than they were to label as old. The 20 year olds thought 40 was ancient. And my 80 year old student thought 100 would be pretty old!
I’d like to declare a new day where we consider no one young or old or even middle aged. God is the only One Who knows our true age in earth years. Some six years olds, who departed life before seven, were old. At 65, my father had 31 more years of earth life to live.
In Psalm 139:16, David wrote a Truth when he said, “All the days ordained for me were written in Your Book before one of them came to be.” God already knows how long He has ordained for us to live. Only He knows whether we are in our youth or beyond … and He’s not telling!
Two of my favorite quotes are:
How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?
Today you are the oldest you have ever been and the youngest you will ever be!
There is a famous picture that has both a young girl and a “mature” woman in it. Which you see depends upon which way you look at it. The catch is that once you see one, your brain tends to find that one again and it is harder to find the other.
I am blessed that my birth month of November is also the month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving. As I have celebrated another trip around the sun, I have been thankful I see both the young girl and the mature woman in my mirror. I see someone who has lived long enough to have learned a few lessons and understands there are some roads I need not take again. But I also see a person who is young in God’s Time and has a lot to learn and experience yet!
P. S. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the timer stops at the end of earth time. It doesn’t! God says in His Eternal Time, “a thousand years are like a day.” (2nd Peter 3:8) So in Eternal Time, none of us have even lived a full day yet!