Earlier this month, I celebrated a milestone birthday. Oddly, I don’t feel any older. I certainly don’t feel like my chronological age. Not on the inside anyway.
How is that supposed to feel? On the inside I feel bergetty-berg* years old. I wonder how Methuselah may have felt beginning his one hundredth decade. My brain sort of goes out of order just thinking about the generations of offspring he could have had Kodak moments with. Nine hundred sixty-nine years is…well…that’s a lot of birthday candles.
I didn’t celebrate in a big way, although I did get a cake with candles: two of them representing my age. Friends remembered me on social media and in person. So it was nice.
While talking with people about how the years pass and we mark time with birthdays, most of my contemporaries agree with me that feeling one’s chronological age is relative. Perhaps it’s because most of us, regardless of what our bodies may be saying, keep a young attitude. “Elderly” seems to be those other people, not us.
How does a person do that? What would you do if you wanted to reflect a youthful attitude? I think these practices help.
It’s okay to take life seriously. Serious stuff happens. But to take ourselves too seriously can be a drag. To ourselves and to others. When we laugh with friends we’re more like children than we may care to admit. But even scripture supports the idea that laughter is the best medicine. Recently I told a corny kid’s joke to a couple of friends over a slice of pizza at lunch. Lightened the mood immediately. So learn to tell a joke well. Or, at the very least, don’t be afraid to laugh out loud at someone else’s humor. Make sure your inner child doesn’t turn into an inner grump. Allow God to help you drop some of your emotional baggage if that’s getting in the way. Smile. If you’re happy and you know it, tell your face.
Keep Pursuing a Dream
I know people who are retired from one career and in a second or third. I know people who serve others by volunteering when they’re no longer employed. In some way, they keep giving back or pursuing a passion. We engage in hobbies that got put on back burners. We complete a college degree or sign up for cooking classes. We get up in the morning and determine that the world isn’t going to pass us by. Johnny Carson, on his late night talk show, asked Jimmy Durante if he was ever going to retire. Durante answered, “Retire to what?” That response should ring true in our hearts.
Keep a Childlike Faith
When we trust God with every aspect of our lives, we can truly “Lighten up.” Our heavenly Father loves to bless our lives when we come to him in childlike faith. He’ll also use us to bless others. Simple trust like that of a child brings contentment. At your age, any age, don’t you want that? Sure, you do.
Keep Looking for Ways to Build God’s Kingdom
This pithy statement isn’t original with me: “The only thing you can take with you to heaven is other people.” A person doesn’t need to be in the twilight years to assist others in living a life devoted to Christ. But sometimes after a lifetime of serving, we’d rather just let the next generation take over. Don’t give in to that temptation. God offers opportunities to take part in his work every day of our lives. Be alert to those moments. When we give up before God wants us to stop, we cheat him, ourselves and most of all, those who don’t know him.
Remain Open to the Joy Others Offer
The birthday cards I received this year indicated the personalities of the people who gave them to me. They also reflected my personality. My older sister gave me the “cake on fire” card. My younger sister sent a sweet, sentimental card. With each one I felt loved. I felt youthful.
One thing I didn’t feel was as old as Methuselah.
*Not revealing my age this time.