Apr 11 2017
I’ve asked myself this question many, many times and what comes to me first is that becoming ageless requires a “good attitude”. So what is a good attitude?? An attitude is simply two or more beliefs strung together. I have attitudes about lots of things: money, the Church, government, vocation, God… the list is almost endless. My beliefs are the fundamental assumptions I bring to the table of my life; they are the guiding principles of my life, and they are the underlying convictions I use as the framework of my life. So what are my beliefs about aging? Is aging more a process of loss, or is it more a process of gain? Actually I believe it is both, but having a “good attitude” would tend to tip my mind toward gains, or perhaps recognizing physical losses as spiritual gains.
Learning to live agelessly requires that I put God at the centerpoint of my beliefs about aging, for it is only God that provides the energy/grace to shift my beliefs about aging from loss to gain. God offers me the grace of hope to live fully across my lifespan. Hope of course, is the absolute assurance that the power of love will always prevail, that the absence of hope (fatalism or despair) can never “win” over love. When I can capture hope as the underlying power of my life then aging is transformed from loss to gain and my attitudes are likewise transformed from degrading despair to enriching optimism. Hope buoys me up, it supports new beliefs about aging and gives me the honest assurance that God is ultimately “in charge”. All this not only calms my mind but gives me peace of heart and soul. Now when I see the wrinkles on my face in the mirror I’m not unhappy because I don’t regret them, rather I see them as signs of God’s continuous love and even as evidence of God’s presence in my life. My wrinkles are to be celebrated as God’s work that can give me spiritual optimism and even a celestial confidence.
Our world sees aging as a thief, but as I shift my attitudes, by God’s grace, toward hope, aging takes on a new luster that defines my wrinkles as badges of divinity, and my life as brand new. Without hope I live a dreary, dull, flat, and dispirited life. I can lapse into sadness; my life becomes heavy, gloomy, and even depressed. In such a state my facial wrinkles only underscore an emptiness of heart and brokenness of spirit. None of this is any part of God’s promise to me; none of this is part of why Jesus suffered and died for me… all of this is my own idle and unproductive suffering. We do “suffer” from the diminishments of aging but for me this suffering invites me into the redemptive suffering of Jesus. When I can grasp this truth I become ageless in the Lord.
Richard P. Johnson