An Exposé on Aging – Pt. 1, The World, the Clock and the Mirror
Another birthday descends upon me like a vulture circling its prey. This year, I don’t want to spend my birthday nursing a sagging spirit. I’d rather soar than sag, pun intended.
Something within me gently reprimands my fragile psyche. “Don’t you realize how blessed you are? Why not soar?”
Before I can answer, the world rudely interrupts with its snide remark. “Because you’re old. Face it, lady; you’re way past your prime.”
Stiff joints, grey hair and sagging skin can serve as bittersweet reminders of what’s to come. Someone once said, “Aging is God’s way of preparing us to look forward to heaven.” I don’t know about you. But I’m looking forward to an ageless body with no aches and pains.
The relentless ticking of my biological clock lures me to the mirror on the wall. There it is, smugly reflecting its claim. “You know what you see, don’t you? Your mother, and when you saw her last, she was almost eighty.”
“But,” I whine, “That can’t be me! My spirit wants to soar. I don’t feel any different inside than I did at forty. How can that old woman be me?”
“That’s what happens when a body turns 74 in a fallen world.” The face in the mirror purses its lips and slowly shakes its head. “What did you expect?”
“Gee thanks. Now everyone will know my age. And some will probably say, “Poor thing. I hope I look that good when I’m that old.”
Denial turns my head away. Slowly, I look back to ask, “Mirror on my wall, is that the extent of my blessing? A little pity and the ability to fool others, but never myself?”
“Why do you need to fool yourself?” The mirror raises my mother’s eyebrows. “Don’t you remember the verse you discovered on your fortieth birthday?”
And I thought I was old then. Sheepishly, I confess. “Yes, I remember.”
“Elizabeth, look at me and say the verse.”
“For (she) will not often consider the years of (her) life, for God keeps (her) occupied with the gladness of (her) heart.” Ecclesiastes 5:20
Ms. Mirror speaks quietly into my thoughts. “You’re dreading another birthday because you’re consumed with the fear of being old, aren’t you?”
“You know me well, don’t you? Why does this bother me so much?”
“You’ve listened to the world. And you know it values beauty over wisdom and youth over experience. You’ve also responded negatively to the physical aspects of aging. Tell me. Which have you spent more time tallying? your complaints or your blessings?”
Shamed, I glare at my accuser.
“And, by the way,” the mirror continues, “you’ve made me the culprit. I only reflect what you show me. Your Maker wants your reflection to reveal the hidden person of the heart. That person is not only precious in His sight, but in the sight of those who love you, as well.”
The mirror stares at me for a moment and adds, “I have an idea. I want you to show negative thinking in your countenance. Don’t hold back. Let me see the worry, the frustration and the fear you feel inside when you think of getting old.”
Sadly, I discover how easy it is to do this. My sigh forms a fog on the glass. I wipe it away and peer at a downtrodden and unattractive woman.
“Ouch! There’s nothing pretty about that image, is there?”
“Pardon the cliché; but it truly is in the eye of the beholder. Now, think about the blessings God has brought into your life over the years. Consider the people who’ve loved and appreciated you. Remember specifically someone you shared Christ with, someone whose life changed because you cared. Think of the joy you felt then and the joy you’ll feel when you meet that person in heaven. Let the warmth of God’s grace and goodness fill your heart with gratitude. Try it.”
I scan the years with a flash of memories. *my husband praying with me for the first time *five precious little girls *three weddings and three wonderful sons-in-law *the birth of nine grandbabies and watching them grow *close relationships with our adult daughters *various women God has brought into my life *wonderful ministry opportunities *the adventures of living in Siberia and New York City *and most of all, the privilege of walking with God forty-six years.
Interrupting my reverie, the mirror calls to me. “Look at me. What do you see now?”
Through tears, I see the beauty of a calm and gentle spirit shining through the looking glass. Years of experience soften the wrinkles. Wisdom gained from a long and intimate friendship with Christ forms a countenance of unspeakable joy.
“Thanks, Mirror. Now, I need you to help me remember what you’ve shown me. Today, I’ve conversed with the world, the clock and you. Now I’m looking forward to a conversation with the Lord. I want to ask Him for a special birthday gift to add to my aging gracefully supplies.”
I smile and the mirror smiles back and says. “Go ahead, say it.”
“All right, I will. Happy Birthday, Elizabeth. Happy Birthday to me.”
(Next week, I’ll post my conversation with God concerning my birthday wish. Meanwhile, I’d love for you to converse with me. Leave a comment on how God has blessed you over the years. Who knows? Regardless of your age or your circumstances, it might help you to look forward to your next birthday with joy instead of dread. So, let’s talk, okay?)