Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lent Day 18: Aging well

"I'm finally middle-aged!" I crowed to my friend Marilyn, twenty years ago.

She rolled her eyes. laughed, and said, "Hardly, you young whippersnapper." She was a few years older.

I'm officially a senior at age 55 (at least at Ross' Dress For Less, should I ever go there). I'm disturbed by a trend I'm seeing in people my age. No, I don't mean the crooked eyebrows we can't see well enough to paint on straight. Nor those ugly 80s leggings that we swore no one would ever want to wear again! (Seriously, this is a current photo, not from the 80s.)

I'm talking about trends of doubting and leaving the faith, trends that draw away people in the years of maturity, just about the time when we'd been led to expect strength, courage, and wisdom.

"I don't know if I'm really saved, sometimes!" exclaimed a friend. "With all the pain we're going through in our family and finances, I am so discouraged that I don't even know what I believe anymore."

Though my salvation is not in doubt, his grief at not feeling secure and steady in faith is familiar. We should be more mature, stronger, boldhearted, should we?

But the knocks of life take their toll. Someone dies, another fights chronic illness, a business is wiped out, investments dive. All the preparations and dreams for the future suddenly disappear. And we find that our security has been resting on a pipe dream rather than on the Everlasting Arms.

Praying without receiving wears me out. Jesus said, "Ask and you will receive," except nothing seems to happen in reply to prayers. The ceiling between us and heaven is made of brass and no requests penetrate to God. Or if he hears, we feel like he turns away to let us stew in sickness, anger, loneliness, or grief.

I feel like such a baby. Like I should be grown up, and ready to "take it," whatever happens. We were raised on scriptures that promised a good life if we served God. Yet the hard times have come and gone, and some are here to stay. Instead of ease and rest, we are overwhelmed by new challenges, worries, and frustrations.

In those times, we need "Jesus with skin on," as someone once said. We need that hand extended to share good news of God with us. Rather than condemnation or pep talks, we need the kindness and understanding of Christian brothers and sisters who have suffered and emerged with perseverance, character, and hope.

I think of Abraham in the silent years, between ages 80 and 90, between revelations and promises. Day after day. Waiting. Watching. Loving Sarah, accumulating stuff, moving around, doing his best. But unfulfilled.

Struggling against doubt and bearing one another's burdens are all part of aging well. I say to my friend who feels like he's drowning in conflict, "I know what you mean," and pray on his behalf, when he can no longer pray for himself and his family.

1 comment:

  1. life is not about waiting for the storm to pass,it is about learning to dance in the rain!