What does it mean to grow old gracefully? To many folks appearance takes precedence over attitude. As long as our hair is perfectly coiffed, and we constantly strive to keep our body as lithe and lean as it was in our 30s or 40s, it implies that we are as fit and able as ever-time is not getting the best of me! In other words, you don’t look your age. However, grace itself has a few different aspects.
I submit to you that aging with grace has much more to do with your state of mind. As we grow older many of the former stressors and pressures are gone. Even with more and more candles on our cake, we can relax and enjoy our lives, despite the inevitable physical changes and challenges that come. Since we are more aware than ever that we each have an expiry date, gratitude for life is fully awakened. This enables us to let unimportant things go, things like constantly comparing ourselves to others. The busyness of our work life while simultaneously raising our children has probably drastically decreased or ceased all together. Dare I say that we more easily accept our current situation. This doesn’t mean that we should become blindly complacent or resigned to our lot. On the contrary, we must still strive to seek, learn and grow without simply settling for where we are.
Grace also refers to movement. We see a deer effortlessly leap over a fence, or a giraffe‘s silhouette as it’s shadow lumbers across in front of a full moon and we marvel at the beauty of it all just as we do for a ballet. From my sofa, I can witness the elegant dance of the towering ornamental grass in the garden across the street. And when I think of a graceful person, a picture of my great aunt Katie comes to mind. She was tall and attractive, unruffled, calm and poised. She seemed to glide in and out of any room. As a child, I remember thinking that she was exceptional and I hoped I’d be like her one day. Are my movements today filled with grace and understanding? Are they harsh, sharp, and gruff or do they reflect Jesus as they should?
Have you ever had someone show you grace? Both in my personal and working life I have been privy to inside information. People confide in me. However I recently accidentally revealed a secret. I was so upset with myself! I declared that I should never ever be trusted to keep another confidence since I was getting older and forgetful. I was mortified by what I had done! But this dear person with the secret made a move of sheer grace to help solve the problem and cover my mistake! I was, and still am, so moved by her compassion and understanding. I didn’t deserve it… but she graciously extended her love to cover my error. What a blessed gift she gave me! She allowed me to let go of my own shame for what I had done. I have learned more about her character and our relationship has grown. Now I see this as a pay-it-forward incident. I must in turn show grace to others who have wronged me.
“…And forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me…”
Finally, if I said that a celebrity graced us with her/his presence, there’s honour involved. You are being paid a compliment by the attendance of that person, a display of goodwill. He or she simply came to show her support, to endorse you, to demonstrate that you are in their good graces. To be shown unmerited, unearned favour is the most valuable grace of all. We each have this grace available through Jesus. (John 1: 14-17 NIV)
Aging gracefully is not about pride in our outward beauty. Some mature adults can be stunningly gorgeous, but often as soon as they open their mouths or act in a derogatory manner, we would not say they are aging with grace. Nor should we wear our wrinkles and gray hair with shame. Growing old gracefully is about confidence. It’s about being confident that you have learned and grown from all of your past accumulated life experiences, and that as a result, you are confident now in the person you have become. You are aware of the well of resources and knowledge you hold. And, it’s about being confident in the coming years because you know Who holds your future.
“For even before I was born God had chosen me to be his, and called me-what kindness and grace-“
Galatians 1:15 TLB Imagine that!