This week I received an email from my very precious friend Michael, and while it was special to me because I know him, I believed the words he wrote were more than just nice thoughts to friends. I felt like they were words of freedom, self-acceptance, and revelation that people needed to hear, so I asked if I could post them here. He generously agreed. May the Lord speak what He will to your hearts through the words Michael penned.
When asked how I felt about being old, I was taken aback. I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my reaction, my student was immediately embarrassed, but I explained that it was an interesting question. I would ponder it, and let her know.
Old Age, I decided, is a gift.
I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometime despair over my body, the places that sag. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my father!), but I don't agonize over those things for long.
I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly plaster wolf that I didn't need, but looks so great on my sheep skin in the livingroom . I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging. Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon?
I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60&70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love ... I will. I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old.
I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things. Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect and better yet, being loved.
I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray and falling out. Even to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. Even shaving my head this summer was a surprise. I decided I like the look for now!
As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong. And I realize that God forgives even the big mistakes, if you ask Him.
So, to answer my student's question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day if I choose, but I won't, really. I prefer cheese! ha ha
MAY OUR FRIENDSHIP NEVER COME APART, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT'S STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART! THANK YOU LORD FOR MY FAMILY AND MY FRIENDS WHO ARE AS CLOSE AS FAMILY! THEY ARE THE BIGGEST BLESSING IN MY LIFE. I FEEL LOVED BY EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM. MAY YOU ALWAYS HAVE SMILES ON YOUR FACES AND IN YOUR HEARTS FOREVER AND EVER! THOSE SMILES THAT COME FROM COUNTING YOUR BLESSINGS!
Getting Older copyright Michael Hodges @ 2007