Sunday, July 01, 2012

Aging Gracefully

Is it possible to age gracefully? Or should we kick and scream and fight against it as long as possible? Do we sit back and say, "Okay, I'm done...someone else take care of me now." Or is it possible to make the most of every moment of life - even those future moments when we'll be arthritic or feeble, disoriented or disabled?

I've heard a few of my friends discussing one of the big challenges of our current "middle-age" time in life...caring for aging parents. It can be such a touchy and difficult issue. Most likely, our parents don't want to be taken care of anymore than we want to be taking care of them. How can that all be dealt with gracefully?

Mercy, perhaps? Showing mercy when they repeat a story for the fifth time, and simply saying, "Oh really? That's interesting." Mercifully allowing them to do something themselves - even though you see they didn't do a very good job at it. With great love and mercy...remembering all the times they provided for your daily needs without a word of gratitude from you, wiped your nose, cleaned up your messes and "oohed and awed" over your sloppy crayon drawings as if they were masterpieces.

Mercy is simply remembering that it's not all about YOU. When we take ourselves out of the center of everything - life suddenly becomes more merciful and gracious.

Mercy is one of those things that you don't just "get" and then you're all done. It's not a mathematical equation that always works just right as long as you get the variables and numbers right. Mercy is a moment by moment choice and decision on our part. Sometimes you'll get it right ("Oh, that's okay - I didn't like that old vase, anyway.") Other times you'll fail miserably at it ("You did WHAT???!!!")

I believe the key to aging gracefully is getting mercy right more often than we get it left. Or left more than wrong. Right?  Excuse me while I go take a nap...did someone make my arms shorter, because I can't seem to hold this thing far enough away to read anymore.  ;-)

"Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone."  Psalm 71:9