The Prime of LifeAug 16, 2023
Blog by Gem Fadling
A few months ago a fairly prominent newscaster made a flippant comment about how women over fifty are not in their prime. He gave examples from a Google search that said women in their twenties and thirties are in their prime. Of course, being a woman over fifty, I had some very strong feelings about this dismissive statement.
In the moment I wanted to respond on social media but decided not to enter the fray of reactive dialogue.
Time passed and I forgot all about the newscaster’s comment, until recently when I saw a movie in which a man speaks endearingly to a woman over fifty: “You look like you’re in your prime to me.” A sweet and heartfelt statement at just the right time in the story.
So I thought about the word “prime” again. What does that even mean? I looked it up, and this definition stood out:
Being the most desired or suitable example of something.
Most desired or suitable. The newscaster spoke about younger women being in their prime as if that were possible during only one season. But that could not be further from the truth. The Holy Spirit lives within us, which means we are desirable and suitable all along the way and at every age. God has created us so.
A formational question emerges out of this conversation: Is it ever a good idea to compare and rate our seasons of life?
We all go through many changes and transformations over the course of a lifetime. One stage is not better than another. Each has its own challenges, graces, and beauties.
There are any number of measuring sticks we could use to argue about when a person is in their prime, but let’s not do that. Instead, let’s discern that we can be in our prime at any point along our journey. We don’t have to put others down or exclude anyone from being a suitable example of a good human based on their season of life.
Let’s look at Colossians 3:12-17 (NLT). This is a good starting place when exploring the aspects of a desirable life:
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
This sounds like the prime of life to me:
- Holy and loved by God
- Clothed with tenderhearted mercy
- Offering wise counsel
- Having a thankful heart
And this list is not bound by time or age or any other metric. It is the good fruit born of walking with God.
Do certain words ever capture your attention the way the word “prime” did for me in this instance? Sometimes when this happens I’ll simply keep moving, but this time I decided to linger and discern. And even though it felt like a trigger at first, I followed a path that helped me make my way:
- Pause and notice.
- Recall how the word was used.
- Learn what the word really means.
- Discern what that means for me in my own life. This can include wise counsel from Scripture and/or talking with a trusted friend or spiritual director.
The next time someone speaks a word or phrase that gives you pause, try this practice and see what emerges. I’d love to hear your process as it unfolds for you.
Blessings to you as you make your way.
Try on the little practice I shared. Go back and reread the above steps if you need to, but here are the main verbs:
The next time you hear someone speak a word or phrase that makes you want to react, try this instead and see what emerges for you.