Several years ago while on a visit to my Mother’s, I joined her at the local health spa. This sixty-something grandma’s favorite exercise did not include sitting in a rocking chair. My mother worked out on a stair-climber. She hopped onto the machine and began pumping her legs up and down vigorously while at the same time maintaining an animated conversation with her son. For ten minutes, I tried to keep up but finally gave up stair climbing to work on simply recapturing my breath. Meanwhile, my dear old mother continued for another ten minutes before easily stepping down with an enthusiastic…”that felt good!”
What image comes to your mind when you hear the word… grandma? Do you think of home baked cookies and hair buns? “Not necessarily!” Growing older is a continual adjustment in our way of thinking and living, but it never means dwelling on the past or sitting in your rocking chair while the world goes by! Barbara Johnson says in her new book, Living Somewhere Between Estrogen and Death: “Growing old is only a state of mind… brought on by gray hairs, false teeth, wrinkles, a big belly, shortness of breath and being constantly and totally pooped.”
How about this letter, written by an unknown third grader? “Grandmother’s don’t have to do anything except to be there. They’re so old that they shouldn’t play hard or run. It is enough if they drive us to the market where the pretend horse is, and have lots of dimes ready. Or if they take us for walks, they should slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars. They should never say “hurry up.” Usually, grandmothers are fat, but not too fat to tie your shoes. They wear glasses and funny underwear. They can take their teeth and gums off. Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if they don’t have a television, because they are the only grownups who have time.”
Old age, like anything has benefits to enjoy and obstacles to endure or overcome but what makes each of us unique is our attitude. As a pastor, I have had the privilege of meeting grandmothers and grandfathers who refuse to “act their age.” Here are a few of my favorites:
- When Florence isn’t busy with church activities she’s out performing with her local dance troupe. By the way she doesn’t do the minuet: Florence clogs. Her biggest complaint is that all the men who want to date her act too old! Florence is 83 years young.
- Seventy-something, Lil can be seen most any day in a jogging outfit walking around town at a pace that would make younger people gasp for breath. When she’s not walking or out on the golf course, Lil is taking a leadership role within our church or involved in community affairs.
- Fred & Betty in their eighties have been active in our local church for years, teaching Sunday school and singing in the choir. If you need something organized, Fred and Betty are the ones to call. But you would think they just got married the way they do everything together. The new addition on their house is to make room for a new Jacuzzi: those lovebirds!
All of these unique individuals recently spent nine months in an intensive Bible Study, meeting for two and half hours each week reading the entire Bible. Why? I thought you would never ask.
- All of them share a passion to learn and grow stronger in their faith.
- Their eyes are firmly fixed on the future and the continuing role God has for them.
- They possess a wonderful sense of humor and an ability to laugh at themselves.
- They are all firmly resolved to never give-in to the obstacles of old age.
Paul writes in Ephesians: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, …to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (4:22-24)
This verse serves as a vivid reminder to let God continually renew us regardless of our circumstances or our age. What a great promise! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m getting back on that stair-climber… “Mom, give me another chance… I think I can keep up with you now!”