“…she laughs at the days to come.”
Hannah was a German exchange student befriended by my daughter and her friends their junior year, and theirs was a friendship that wouldn’t end with Hannah’s return to Germany. We saw her when we lived there, and then again when she made a return trip to the States earlier this year.
While Hannah’s English is excellent, understandably it’s not perfect; unfamiliar with many colloquialisms, she had occasional “lost in translation” moments. Sometimes I like her interpretation better.
She called the crinkles that sunburst from the outer corners of my eyes laughing lines. Lightly tracing my furrows with her index finger, she smiled and added, “They’re pretty.”
There’s no way she could know how those two small words ministered encouragement to me, but I suppose the Lord knows when you need a kind affirmation, the same way He sent two perfectly-timed words that changed my life.
I’ve always referred to those first-tell signs of aging as laugh lines, but adding three little letters make it infinitely better. It suggests something I’m doing contrasted to something I’ve done. Laughing becomes descriptor and action.
Or maybe I’m just odd to care about such things.
I turned 50 last year and it wasn’t just that but All Of The Things going on that near about did me in.
A son graduating high school and a daughter turning 21.
My baby getting his license and starting to drive.
My husband leaving one job and trusting God for another (it would come five months later….).
Applying for jobs I was qualified for (even over-qualified!) and not being able to secure an interview.
Injuring my knee and needing surgery.
Knowing we would likely be moving and starting over. Again.
A mammogram scare and that other blasted confirmation from my doctor.
Right around that time there was one more blow to my heart — realizing I couldn’t attend a women’s event because I had aged out of its audience demographic. I was simply too old for their format and hadn’t realized that at first.
For that day (and more than a few others) I could not stop crying. I barely recognized myself because a) birthday milestones have never bothered me before and b) I don’t cry easily.
I’ve always seen silver linings and bright sides in the Eeyore-iest of clouds, but this inner shift was unchartered.
To realize I was closer to having grandchildren than my own children…
to accept I had likely lived more days than I had remaining…
to recognize the subtle changes in my body no matter how I hard I tried to stop them…
were all a sobering exercise in futility.
There were moments when a sense of panic set in.
My footing had never been more unsure, every step seeming to fall upon quaking ground…
I wasn’t dealing with life or death circumstances, but it sure felt like I was walking through fire…
I heard a whisper…voice small and still but undeniable–
Age is the price you pay for l i f e and it’s not a privilege everyone gets to have.
It’s a long stretch to suggest Elijah’s story resembles my own, but when doubt and despair and defeat bludgeoned my soul and spirit, I felt a kinship.
I thanked God that he’s a God of “but, thens“.
There are two choices you can make when you’re faced with a challenge: stand up and punch that sucker in the throat or lay down and let it bowl you over.
That doesn’t mean you can’t grieve or be sad or angry or frustrated; those are emotions of process that can lead you forward. To deny or suppress those very real feelings is dishonest and a personal disservice. But if you give in to them, they can become chokeholds or strongholds leading to paralysis.
Age is the price you pay for life and it’s not a privilege everyone gets to have.
My mother died when she was 38 and it is in her life cut cruelly short that I realize aging is a small price to pay to see my babies grow into an amazing young woman and men. It is through the lens of her death where I can see with most clarity and fullness the gift of my life.
That Divine check in my spirit and the perspective rooted in my mom’s early death were seedlings for laughter.
We have but one life and I long to steward it well
God’s gentle whisper to my heart, a Holy nudging in the midst of my despair about getting old, was simple: to champion life and to age gracefully.
As I began to ask God what that would look like, He began to transform my thinking.
I finally began to see my age as a blessing, not a curse.
I hear women almost apologizing for their age; I’ve even done it. It can be hard being the oldest person in the room (even online).
Let this sink in deep: Age is a blessing not a curse!
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. ~ Psalm 90:12
There is no substitute for the experiences you’ve lived, for each life season you’ve passed, for the wisdom you’ve gained from reaching your age.
I have climbed mountains and trudged valleys; nothing can replace the lessons I’ve learned and the value of enduring. Isn’t it incumbent upon us to reach into younger lives and encourage them? Haven’t we all said at some point, “If I had known then what I know now…”?
Let us be intentional about walking with our younger sisters, and be the Knowing that will bring assurance and relief.
Q. Can you relate? Have you struggled with growing older in our youth-oriented culture? What does it mean to you to “laugh at the days to come”?
Originally, this post was much longer; rather than just completely deleting a meaningful (to me) part of this story, I’ve published those sections on my blog. If you’re curious to learn why writing online can be difficult for me, what prompted me to write this post, and join me in a related prayer, I hope you’ll check it out. Also? There’s a wonderful DaySpring giveaway that will help you pursue a more intentional life!