The Privileged Life: On Aging Gracefully…with Love

“Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.” (Psalm 71:18)

When my cousin’s mother developed Alzheimer’s many years ago and lost her self-awareness, she would gaze into the mirrors on her walls and say, “Who is that old woman following me around?”

I feel like that sometimes now.

Getting older is a daily gift, even when I have to work harder to get going on projects. I’ve had the privilege, though, of watching godly women who have aged with grace, in Christ. Their examples have inspired me to follow in their footsteps, seeking to serve their Lord by simply living out their lives with love and joy, without complaining.

In his epistle to Titus, Paul encouraged the older women to become such role models—“that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” (Titus 2:3-5)

Friends, this is a high calling. If you’re on the upswing of life in your youth, seek out these folks. If you’re on the downswing, make sure you’re leaving behind a wake of love and compassion. You have the privilege and calling to “be Christ” to all those who follow you. Teach them well.

In my twenties, I visited the beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland, and picked up a printed prayer in the gift shop. It struck a chord with me at the time, and ever since then it has graced my office through multiple moves. 

It’s attributed to an unknown 17th-century nun, and whether that’s true or not, the prayer is just as pointed for our days as it might have been centuries ago. The words speak of a woman much like the great Christian ladies I’ve admired, taking on the challenges of age through true humility and works of faith, placing their needs before the Lord.

Enjoy. And may we all be like this prayerful woman!

LORD, Thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and will some day be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but Thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end. 

Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience. 

I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessing cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken. 

Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a Saint—some of them are so hard to live with— but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And, give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. AMEN.

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© Copyright 2022 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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