Note – Though this post does not specifically target marriage, it addresses something every marriage has to deal with.
Age. Whether you’re young or old, everyone grapples with their age. The young wish they were older. The old wish they were younger. Even the terms “young” and “old” are relative to our age. When we’re ten, thirty seems old. When we’re thirty, fifty seems old. And when we’re fifty, we’re just hoping we can make it to retirement!
Age truly is in the eye of the beholder.
I’ve found myself thinking a lot about age lately. Maybe it’s because I’m at a place in life where…
- I’m trying to care for elderly parents.
- Trips to the doctor are becoming more of a regular outing.
- My influence is decreasing while my glory days are increasing.
- My grandchildren are wondering why I can’t keep up.
- My recliner is calling to me more than it use to.
I could go on, but I think I just felt a tear roll down my cheek. (Maybe it allergies.)
But no matter how old you are, age will mess with your mind, leaving you with it’s own form of age-related dementia. Here’s some examples:
WHEN WE’RE YOUNG…
- We all want to live a long life, but we don’t want to get old.
- We honor the elderly, while secretly being glad we’re not like them.
- We talk about the wisdom that comes with age, but believe we’re smarter than our elders.
- We stand on the accomplishments of those who are older, while convinced we could have done it better.
- We want the responsibility that comes with age, while believing we can avoid the toll that responsibility brings.
- We are willing to spend hours in the gym to shape our body, but hope to avoid the years in the furnace that are required to shape our character.
- We want to break tradition and innovate, without realizing that our innovations will someday be the traditions others want to break.
- We want the benefits while avoiding the burdens that bring the benefits.
- We push back against being called entitled, because we feel entitled to better treatment.
- We resist generational labels, while labeling the generation who labels us.
WHEN WE’RE OLD…
- We grieve the loss of our youth, rather than celebrate the accomplishment of our age.
- We complain of all the things we can’t do while forgetting all the things we’ve done.
- We wish we had come farther, without realizing how far we’ve come.
- We strive to save our place in the world, rather than share our place in the world.
- We reluctantly count down to an end, instead of anticipating a big finish.
- We think we can win the race by keeping the baton, rather than passing it on.
- We resent the youth who want to change our traditions, while forgetting we did the same.
- We wish we were younger, while we complain about those who are younger.
- We respond to perceived disrespect in disrespectful ways.
- We complain about the entitlement of youth, while believing our age entitles us to do it.
This is crazy, right? But it shows that no matter how old we are, we will find ourselves wrestling with the issues of age. It’s inevitable. It’s a part of the life cycle.
So, despite how old you may be, here are some things to remember when it comes to age…
- Age is a universal experience. We’re all a part of the same journey, and one part is not better or worse than another part. Each age and stage has it’s own benefits and drawbacks. It’s just that we tend to long for the benefits while forgetting the drawbacks.
- We miss so much of life wishing we were a different age. “If only I were older. If only I were younger.” This is a lack of gratitude for what we have right now. Youth who want the control of age, can’t understand the weight and responsibility that come with age. And elderly who wish they could regain the vibrancy of youth forget the difficulty of starting from the beginning.
- Make the most of your age. Maybe you’ve heard it said, “Make the most of your youth, because someday you’ll be old like me.” But why shouldn’t we make the most of any age; young or old? Your current age is a gift. Treat it as such.
If we live long enough, we all will experience the joys and the hardships of every age and stage. So when it comes to age…
We need to trade envy for honor and resentment for support.
If you’re younger, honor and support those who have blazed the trails and endured the hardships ahead of you. If you’re older, encourage and support those who come behind you, as they blaze their own trails and face their own hardships.
Because, what goes around comes around. Or to borrow a phrase from our Covid-19 days…”We’re all in this together.”
Note: If you would like to look at this topic from more of a spiritual perspective, be watching for the next post at bretlegg.com.