Embracing the Inevitable

One of my first blog posts shared my thoughts “On Turning 65.” It’s hard to believe I am now staring down the barrel (JK) of my 70th birthday! In honor of the occasion, I have these additional thoughts and memories to share:

Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life. Proverbs 16:31

My high school class had their big reunion last May. It had originally been planned as our 50th in 2021, but because of world-wide “complications” (‘nough said), it turned into our 51st.

We gals are pushing 70 by now, so it should have been no surprise that the vast majority have long given up on the hair coloring thing. As I walked into a room full of silver and white, I realized I was one of the few holdouts. By the end of the weekend, I had decided to ditch the denial and, as another famous white-haired character has sung, “LET IT GO!” I had already tried using a lighter shade each time I colored my hair, but it had only succeeded in taking it from dark brunette to a dingy, mousy brown. So, while some of my friends refer to the graying transition as a “journey,” I decided I didn’t have the time or patience for a “journey,” I’d just leap into the time machine and “git ‘er done.” I had a friend who was skilled in this kind of transformation, and couple of radical highlighting sessions later, I look more my age.

Or less like someone my age desperately trying to look 20 again. (*eye roll*) This was a huge step in my quest for “divine perspective.”

I grew up with an older sister who excelled in sports and possessed a lot more confidence than I had. Many a conversation with peers began with the question, “So, how’s your sister?” (“Fine.” And I’m fine, too, thanks for asking.)

But when I turned fourteen and was on a trip to Europe with my parents (and no sister), out of my usual environment I began to notice male heads turning and giving approving looks in my direction. I realized then that I might have a certain asset that the world values highly, although even at that age I knew it was the shallowest of qualities.

Beauty has its disadvantages, especially if one is prone to laziness. It’s easy to persuade oneself that attraction equals respect. Although I married young, I found that being “cute” could still open doors and how much men would do for a smile. As for younger men, I found it adorable when one of my students had a “crush” on the teacher, even as I pretended not to notice.

I don’t remember if I was in my 40’s or 50’s, but there came a day when I looked in the mirror and realized some things had gradually changed over time. I thought, Dang. I’m going to have to come up with a personality….

All my life I had known, deep down, that looks don’t matter to God. (“Man looks on the outside, but God looks at the heart.”) I liked to think I was always kind to the less attractive, patient with the elderly, and compassionate towards the disabled. I had spent time in the hospitals and nursing homes, ministering with my music. But now the thought of actually being one of them … I was going to have to get used to this.

I had several epiphanies as I grew older. One was the classic experience shared by many moms – being out with my daughter, having the nostalgic experience of having heads turn, then realizing those smiles were directed at my beautiful daughter, not her mom.

A more encouraging epiphany was learning that I was a favorite teacher in the high school, because “she’s fun,” “she’s funny,” “she tells good stories,” and other reasons having nothing to do with “pretty.”

Probably the most edifying sign that I was changing in the right direction, was when one of my pastors quoted me in his sermon and elaborated on the (apparently) profound thing I had said. Later on in the same sermon, he alluded to something else I had said! With a thrill I realized the Lord was transforming me. While I had been someone worth looking at, now I was becoming someone worth listening to! And I know – I have always known – that this is a step up. How many times did I try as a baby Christian to “witness” to an attentive young man, and having shared the most profound truths with him, realized he hadn’t heard a word I’d said?

So, the “journey” of my first seventy years hasn’t been from one “look” to another, but from the immature embracing of the superficial and fleeting to the deeper, the eternal. I’ve known all my life that this body is going to die and decay. How much of my life has been a frantic race trying to postpone the inevitable, slowing down the process for as long as possible? But what has made my life worth something were the hours I’ve spent pursuing God – running after Him, seeking His wisdom, which the wise Solomon declared was more valuable than gold … or rubies … or some sparkly thing… You get the point.

I know the Lord promised us we would have new bodies someday – perfect bodies that would never wear out or die. The longer I live, the more I look forward to that day.

At the same time, I don’t believe there will be mirrors in heaven. Sure, if we look at one another, in our resurrected bodies, we might be dazzled by our beautiful, yet recognizable loved ones. But we won’t care what we look like. We’ll scarcely be conscious of ourselves at all.

Our focus will be on Jesus.

Prayer: Lord, we rejoice in the life You’ve given us, even as we realize its brevity. Our fragile bodies are wearing out even as we speak. And so, we thank You even more for the promise of new birth, new life, new bodies to live in as we share eternity with You, giving You all the glory. In Jesus’ name and by the power of His blood, amen.

37 thoughts on “Embracing the Inevitable

  1. I received a call from a friend. He was laughing. “what’s so funny?” I asked. “My wife finally batted her eyes at a young officer and he said “Nice” and gave her a speeding ticket anyway. Since, they have been through some very hard times and grown in depth. They are both still looking great but loving God sticks out the most.

    Like

  2. Parts of your post resonate with my first post, when I was 68. I had been having a significant increase in pain and major dizzy spells which led to my falling a lot. After umpteen (I taught statistics; umpteen is a statistical term) visits to various health care providers, I was no further ahead. As a very young Christian, I had not yet developed the habit of “casting all my cares on God.” I was still searching for earthly answers. The last doc in my search was specifically looking for the cause of my vertigo. His conclusion was simply that he could find nothing wrong, that I was a 68-year old women who was dealing with two chronic pain conditions as best she could. The other stuff would pass. His last words to me were, “You ARE 68

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gail, I have mixed feelings about doctors whose response begins with “As we get older…” I’ve had the distinct impression from some that they don’t really want to make the effort to find a cause and solution. But if they’ve done that and no solution has been found, we do get left with your doctor’s good advice. You have my deepest admiration for making the best of your situation and following the Lord on into eternity. (The more that goes wrong with this body, the more I look forward to getting a new one.)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ann, I love this: “from the immature embracing of the superficial and fleeting to the deeper, the eternal.” I was also a teacher (of ESL to adults), and occasionally a student would say something flattering, like this one: “Is it correct English to say my teacher looks very handsome in the morning?” While I can’t deny that I appreciated what she said, I have come to the same realization that you have. Now, when someone in the Sunday-school class that I’m teaching makes an encouraging comment about how, for example, s/he is understanding God’s Word better, that means much more–eternally.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this post Ann, can hardly believe I just signed up for Medicare! You captured many of my heart’s sentiment.
    I stand on this verse also,
    “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green” Psalm 92.
    Even as we grow weaker and things fall apart, I pray that the Spirit within us grows stronger and “bears fruit” for the Lord.
    With you sister, let’s press on!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Ha! Sweet post. Love it. I’m not yet ready to let my hair go natural, but I am pleased about growing older and really enjoying it. It helps that the Lord has been so good to me and that I am no longer weighed down by the burdens I had in my 20’s and 30’s. I used to have headaches, insecurities, trauma, but today I genuinely wake up at peace and feeling blessed.

    I don’t think there are any mirrors in heaven either. I think souls just recognize souls. Like CS Lewis says, “there will be surprises. ” I suspect many of us don’t even realize how beautiful we really are.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Just as I was thinking I was in the home stretch, a man in our church told us about his grandmother who just died at 104. But 120?! I keep thinking of what George Burns said, “If I’d known how long I was gonna live, I would’ve taken better care of myself.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Great relatable post, Ann..I started getting grays at 25 and colored my hair for the next decade and realized thatโ€™s way too much maintenance for me so, like you, Iโ€™ve โ€œlet it go!!โ€ โ€ฆIโ€™m 39 now and I donโ€™t love gray on me by any means but it is what it isโ€ฆlove the reminder to focus on whatโ€™s inside instead.โค๏ธ

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I stopped coloring my hair when I turned 60, my birthday present to myself. One of the deciding factors for me was watching all the young women who were coloring their hair silver at the time. I said to my hairdresser, “Here we have all these young things who pay good money to make their hair look like mine, and I’m supposed to pay good money to make my hair look like theirs. What’s wrong with THAT picture??” She laughed and said she had to agree.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This quote of Eleanor Roosevelt helps me put attention where it belongs (though I’m still a work in progress): “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.” Here’s to becoming a work of art!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am less than 2 months away turning 7-0. It doesn’t seem real. I stopped coloring my hair when I hit 65. It took 3 years for my gray roots to grow down to my waist. It turns out that I like the gray/white hair look. But, all these wrinkles that I have all of a sudden — yikes!! I needed to read this post. Thank you, dear beautiful Annie. โค

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, Linda, your hair must grow really fast! I think the average person’s hair grows something like 6 inches per year.
      I did notice that after my hair was white, the wrinkles were more obvious, maybe because they’re expected now. And it seems people are more accommodating, opening doors for me, offering help with packages … Boy Scouts trying to help me across the street … :/

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s