It happened in front of one of those unforgiving, full-length mirrors.
I had stepped into mom’s adjoining dressing room so we could show one another the clothes we were trying on. Instinctively, I reached out to smooth the white blouse on my mother’s slightly stooped back.
I was in my thirties, and she was in her seventies. We stood side-by-side, looking at our reflections. I think that’s when it hit her . . . hard.
At home I noticed a tear trailing down her cheek. Alarmed, I asked her what was wrong. She shared that when she compared herself to me in the dressing room, she realized how much her body had changed.
She had been ambushed by aging.
That was over twenty years ago, and I’m beginning to understand how she felt. This week I went to the hospital for a medical test and had to wear one of those disposable identification wristbands.
There it was, next to my name. My age–printed in black and white for all to see. They might as well have taken a black Sharpie and written it on my forehead. I scrutinized the number, but somehow it just didn’t compute. “When did I get so old?” I marveled.
It helped a little when the brusque medical technician read my age and gruffly declared, “you don’t look that old.”
But other recent encounters have made me wonder otherwise:
- The perky Assistant in her twenties who called me a “young lady.”
- The teenage ticket seller who automatically gave me a senior discount.
- And the young cable repair guy who asked, “Do you know what a USB port is?”
(For the record, I do.)
The reality is, I’m no longer a spring chicken. (The fact that I even used that phrase is a dead give-away.)
Sometimes even my peers, who are also donning progressive-lens glasses and using hair-dye by the gallon aren’t sympathetic. One of my childhood friends reminded me that I’m too old to call myself “middle-aged” anymore!
What does she know – maybe I’m shooting to upset the record of the “world’s oldest woman,” who lived to be 117! Humph.
Kidding aside, we must all eventually come to terms with aging. I’ve known 29-year-olds who dreaded turning 30 as if their lives would come to an end. Then there was my dad, who didn’t say “I’m getting old,” until he was past 90!
So how do we cope with an escalating number of birthday candles and make the most of our lives at every age?
Here are seven suggestions.
- Practice an attitude of gratitude. Take daily inventory of what you are thankful for. Look for the positive in every situation, and remember that even the hardest circumstances can lead to good things in the long run.  Don’t forget that life is a gift, and make the most of every opportunity.
- Live out your purpose. You are not here by accident. God knows the exact number of days you will be on this earth, and you are alive to fulfill a unique role at this point in history.  Recognize your inherent value, find your calling, and never stop sharing your gifts.
- Make healthy choices. Many problems associated with aging can be mitigated or prevented by lifestyle decisions. Choose a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Likewise, maintain strong social and spiritual connections by investing in good relationships.
- Like yourself in the mirror. In our youth-obsessed society, even our cell phone cameras have a “beauty” setting that magically takes years off. Yet, our faces weren’t meant to look 25 for our entire lives. As Mark Twain said, “wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.” Avoid comparing yourself to others, and own those crows-feet and age-spots. Remember that you are “wonderfully made.” 
- Develop your imperishable qualities. While you can’t look young forever, your inner beauty can grow as you mature.  Focus less on outward appearance and more on mining the riches of your life experiences to develop your character and faith. A countenance radiating with wisdom, grace, and kindness never loses its attractiveness.
- Trust God to meet your needs. Whether you’re just beginning your career or are counting the months to retirement, you can rely on God to take care of you.  While this doesn’t excuse you from wisely managing your finances and health, it means that you don’t need to live in fear of the future. God will help you, every step of the way.
- Embrace the hope of eternal life. Scripture describes our tenure on earth as a vapor . . . and beauty as temporary as a lovely flower that withers.  Thankfully, death is not the end—only a transition to a permanent home in heaven for those who place their faith in Jesus.  Be sure of your salvation so you can live now with an eternal perspective. As my dad said in his final days, “the best is yet to come!”
The next time you are ambushed by aging, talk back and remind it that you are attractive, valued, and living out your divine purpose. In the end, you hold the power to deflect any attacks on your worth. As Mark Twain put it, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter!”
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 Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (KJV)
 Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (NIV)
 Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (NIV)
 I Peter 3:3-4 “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” (NLT)
Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised. “ (NLT)
 Psalm 37:25 “Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned . . .” (NLT)
Philippians 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (KJV)
 James 4:14 “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (NIV)
Isaiah 40:6: “. . .people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field.” (NLT)
 John 3:16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (NLT)