One morning last week, I was enjoying some moments in morning prayer when I came across these lines in Psalm 90:
Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:10, 12
It’s sobering to think that, at 58, this verse says I might have only another 12 years (or 22 if my strength endures!) to grow in wisdom and do the good work of the kingdom God has graciously entrusted to me. Some of the years so far have felt more troublesome, but I find myself deeply grateful for so many ways the grace of God has guided me, grown me and made my life and work more fruitful.
One of Gem’s mentors (and mine by extension) was a Benedictine abbot named David Geraets. He was her spiritual director when she was doing her training in direction.
One of his insights that has stuck with me was if we don’t deal with our childhood wounds and hang-ups during midlife, they will haunt our senior years. We will find ourselves to be childish older adults. Can you think of men and women you’ve known who grew old, but didn’t grow mature? There’s nothing magic about getting old that makes you wise.
But, if we deal well with those childhood wounds and issues, we may well find ourselves child-like older adults who know how to be playful, lighthearted, even unselfconscious. We might actually grow younger in soul even as we grow older in body. We might find ourselves becoming true elders.
I wonder if the church knows how to help older adults to grow into elders. Keeping people busy with church jobs probably isn’t going to do it. How can we help men and women of all ages open their lives to the healing, freeing and transforming presence of Jesus so that we really are being renewed day by day (2 Co. 4:16)?
You just might find yourself growing younger as you grow older.