Mike Cope's blog

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

To start this new year, the one in which I will turn 50, I read Dr. Andrew Weil's Healthy Aging. My favorite chapter is called "The Value of Aging." Weil points out that there are, for sure, problems with aging. But if we can resist the youth obsession of our culture, we can see what scripture recognized: that there are some advantages to aging. So here are some of the things that age well and that serve as metaphors for him: Whiskey and wine Cheese Beef Trees Violins Antiques Then he points out (working from these illustrations) that aging can: "-add richness to life -replace the shallowness and greeness of youth with depth and maturity -develop and enhance desirable qualities of personality while lessening undesirable ones -smooth out roughness of character -enhance the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of life by the same processes that cause decline of the physical body -confer the advantages and power of survivorship -develop one's voice and authority as a living link to the past." Anyone out there who's a little further down the aging path who can testify to his claim that aging has its advantages (besides coffee for $.35 at McDonald's)?

39 Comments:

  • I knew there was some reason I have always looked forward to turning 50 (me too this year)! Now I know 7 of them.

    By Blogger Candy, at 1/11/2006 04:38:00 AM  

  • I sure hope that's right! Staring at 40 this year myself, it gives me hope to think it might be.

    Dr. Weil's work on breathing, extracting techniques and practices from eastern meditation forms and presenting them in a medical context, is also worthy of attention.

    Good luck in the new year.

    By Blogger Gritsforbreakfast, at 1/11/2006 04:43:00 AM  

  • It's nice to see someone who is able to get beyond our cultural idea that youth (or the appearance of it) is the ideal state.

    This is my year to turn 43, so I can't do any "further down the path" testifying as of yet. I can say that even at 42 I don't think I'd trade the progress in spiritual/personal growth in order to be back in a young body.

    By Blogger reJoyce, at 1/11/2006 05:32:00 AM  

  • As one who recently hit the half century mark, I am enjoying my kids making a big deal of it. We started celebrating last month and they have things planned because of this occasion that will take us through the month of July.

    My mom turns 70 in March. My granny turn 94 in May. They serve as examples of how one can enjoy those latter years with gusto, even when physical abilities weaken.

    By Blogger Serena Voss, at 1/11/2006 06:30:00 AM  

  • Sorry Mike...since I will only turn 40 this year, I'm not yet qualified to respond here. It is interesting though....as I approach 40, I keep telling myself how young I still feel and that for the time being I can still hold my own wrestling with my 14 year old son(of course the extra 30 lbs helps with that!). Perhaps the next decade my thoughts will turn to these such things as you have pointed out.

    By Blogger Paul W, at 1/11/2006 06:33:00 AM  

  • Oh, yes! I would also like to echo gritsforbreakfast: "Just breathe!" I have a book about breathing disease out of your body and I have an accupressure practitioner that I see periodically. So, one of the joys of growing older is the exposure I get to alternative medicine. The amazing thing is that most of that "medicine" is found in the Word of God. : )

    By Blogger Serena Voss, at 1/11/2006 06:34:00 AM  

  • If I have a son turning 50, I must be.............and how did that happen?

    By Blogger Coping, at 1/11/2006 06:43:00 AM  

  • It has been my observation that few readers of this blog are farther down the path. But I am. For instance, I usually have no clue when y'all discuss music past the 70's.

    Having more years behind me than ahead gives me the ability to see where God has worked in my life and in the lives of my loved ones, and gives substance to my faith that He will continue to do so.

    As for smoothing off the rough edges, I need a few more years.

    In some ways I'm still trying to figure out where I'm going.

    Reaching this stage of life has given me the time and resourses to develop traits and abilities that of necessity lay dormant during other years.

    Life still is hard work, but the years have given me tools to work with. There's no slick sliding downhill after you're over the hill. But I have no doubt that these years have the potential of being the best.

    Your turn, Kathy M.

    By Blogger Sarah_RN, at 1/11/2006 06:44:00 AM  

  • Done done it! 50 last year. Living in Florida, everybody my age looks young. Anyway life's a beach, and then you get to go for a swim.

    By Blogger Steve Puckett, at 1/11/2006 06:47:00 AM  

  • One thing I appreciate about aging family members is the openmindedness, mellowness and humility that develops after they've decided they're right about everything.

    By Blogger Little Light, at 1/11/2006 07:35:00 AM  

  • My favorite philosopher, Augustus McCrae, once said the following:
    "the older the violin, the sweeter the music"

    Nough said.

    DU

    By Blogger David U, at 1/11/2006 07:42:00 AM  

  • I reached that hill over three years ago and I can say it is going down fast!

    But.....we, my husband and I, started ballroom dancing lessons this week! What fun! My children are zealous.

    We think the best part of aging is that you can finally afford to do some of the things you couldn't or wouldn't do when the kids were home! We are having fun!

    Afterall, it is better than the alternative!
    Peggy

    By Blogger pegc, at 1/11/2006 08:13:00 AM  

  • Three thoughts on aging: (I turn 50 in two weeks)

    1)I get irritated with the seniors group at church being the "over 50's" group. I still have four kids in primary school, and the youngest left milk and cookies out for Santa Claus this year. I'm not ready (nor are my kids ready for me to be) for the rocking chair yet!

    2) the older I get, the less I know.

    3) I am convinced it is merely a state of mind. When at home in Missouri for Christmas, my mom and dad (age 78 and 80) took us all along with them for the weekly singing at the "old folks' home", because, you know, those old folks need encouragement. Most of the old folks they were singing to were younger than they! Then we went home and dad fixed us all milkshakes.

    By Blogger don, at 1/11/2006 08:36:00 AM  

  • While I'm ONLY 41, I'm enjoying the 40's as much if not more than any other decade of life. Most of that is because of my family. But an awesome side effect I discovered is the renewed confidence in my teaching and preaching.

    There's something about a little gray hair that makes people more likely to listen to you. And something about a maturing relationship with the Master that makes you willing to share something more of the path He is leading you down.

    By Blogger Thurman8er, at 1/11/2006 08:47:00 AM  

  • I am ten years ahead of you in the journey. Life is more "mellow" and less "urgent". Grand children highlight these days, they keep me young - and tired. Grand children have taught me to love headlights and taillights.

    By Blogger Lee Hodges, at 1/11/2006 09:03:00 AM  

  • Quickly heading toward 60, and I, too, just finished reading Dr. Weil's book. I especially loved the parts about aged steak and good wine! I'm still waiting for some of the "smoothing of peronality" to occur. Sometime I feel like I'm becoming more vocal instead of mellowing. Maybe I need to read this book again......

    By Blogger goldlenlocks, at 1/11/2006 09:34:00 AM  

  • This is my year to turn 70, and I wouldn't trade my age for any I've already seen. I had lots of fun as a child, great times in high school and college, and many joyful moments as a wife, mom, and grandmom, but the best is right now!

    I'm in a much more intimate place with God and that's the biggest blessing. I praise God every day for making me more understanding and tolerant of everyone I meet, and for telling me I don't have all the answers. I realize, after all these years that He didn't put me here to tell everyone "how to do it"! I used to think that was my job.

    To me, EVERYTHING is better now than it used to be. Sure there are some creaky joints and perhaps my memory has a few leaks, but I choose to ignore those things.

    Old age is the BEST....and you can quote me on that!

    By Blogger Kate, at 1/11/2006 10:11:00 AM  

  • OK, Kate. You're my hero. Just checked your profile. You're exactly my mom's age, and apparently aging just like she is: with grace and optimism.

    Come back and write more. How did you get to this place--slowly or was it a sudden insight? Have you tried to fight the aging of the body (and if so, how has that gone?) or have you just accepted it and gone on?

    We needs older saints like you (not that 69 is old!) to show the way in this youth-obsessed world. We're all aging. Even the tiniest babies. The clock is ticking. We need models of people who accept each day as the day the Lord has made.

    By Blogger Mike, at 1/11/2006 10:19:00 AM  

  • 50? I'm the senior services coordinator at the local hospital. Our program is for those 50 and better. Senior Citizens... great people!

    By Blogger That Girl, at 1/11/2006 10:38:00 AM  

  • Kate's comments are so hopeful! I have never had a difficult time with birthdays until now. I seem to young to be turning....I can't even force myself to type it!

    By Blogger David Michael, at 1/11/2006 10:42:00 AM  

  • Loved so many of the comments, but Kate's is precious! I want to be like her when I grow up!(I just turned 50 in November)

    By Blogger annie, at 1/11/2006 10:42:00 AM  

  • TL - You're killin' me! Well, wait until the end of July and then sign me up. Can you get me the discount at Denny's then, too?

    By Blogger Mike, at 1/11/2006 10:43:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    I turned 50 last June and instructed my wife,2 sons and daughter-in laws,that the celebration was to be that of a 12 year old.We went to an amusement park and hit in the batting cages until I develpoed multiple blisters on both hands,rode go-carts,and played various games.Then we returned home and played catch in the yard,topped off by a game of electric football.
    It was maybe the best birthday of my life!
    So,50 is something to look forward to IF you plan it right! Early Happy Birthday....Randy Simmons

    By Blogger Randy Simmons, at 1/11/2006 10:48:00 AM  

  • Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.

    By Blogger Beverly, at 1/11/2006 10:59:00 AM  

  • I was hoping that Buzz would comment as he is about to turn the big 50 on Feb 1. I'm sure he will have PLENTY of advice on being old.

    By Blogger KristinStinnett, at 1/11/2006 11:39:00 AM  

  • When my grandpa turned 87, he wanted one thing. To ride the double-decker carousel at the mall. So we took him. He climbed up on a horse and we made sure he was strapped on. We just knew he was going to fall off and break his hip. We stood and watched, worry turning into relief every time he came around with a big smile on his face and still on the horse.

    Then there was my grandmother. She was very proper her whole life -- married to my other grandpa (CoC preacher/elder) for 60 years before he died. Then she moved into a retirement center and got herself a boyfriend. Once she was trying to tell my family something funny her boyfriend had done and started laughing so hard, we thought she was having an angina attack.

    What I learned from both of them is that you're only as old as you act. I really believe that. I'm still about 17. Except that my hormones have calmed down. A little.

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 1/11/2006 12:09:00 PM  

  • Mike, I posted an answer to your questions, but I obviously didn't hit the send button. That's what happens to old people.

    No, I didn't get here suddenly, but I haven't been here long, either. In 1993 I had my ephiphany of sorts. Before that, I was very arrogant in my Christianity....very sure that God had given me the job of telling others exactly "how to do it". Besides arrogance, I was impatient with many, intolerant of some, and I spent lots of time patting myself on the back. Then, God led me to try to learn to "pray without ceasing". I began to praise God and thank God for everything I encountered (good and bad)in my life every day, and soon realized, I was talking to God all the time. The transformation began there. Then He led me to actually study with an open mind instead of with my ingrained ideas. Voila! The Holy Spirit really did begin to lead me into all truth, as He promised He would

    Physically, I realized I'd better do something when my arthritic knees balked at stepping up on a curb. So, I go to the gym 5 days a week (began in 2002)aerobic and weights, and I'm in great shape now. I'm running....well, briskly walking....up and down stairs now and I'm in some line dancing classes. I eliminated sugar from my diet, eat lots of fruits, vegetables,and lean meats, but still get an enchilada fix a few times a month.

    I truly love where I am....physically, emotionally and especially spiritually.

    By Blogger Kate, at 1/11/2006 12:27:00 PM  

  • Kate, you are an inspiration!!!! God asked that the older teach the younger. I think this is what he meant and your wisdom is what we are meant to take away from this. Thank you for your spirited example.

    By Blogger julie, at 1/11/2006 12:59:00 PM  

  • I didn't mean to intimate that I've "arrived" in any area. I'm still in transition, still learning, but at least I've learned I have a lot to learn.

    By Blogger Kate, at 1/11/2006 01:02:00 PM  

  • Mike -

    I read your post early this morning, but refrained from speaking up and speaking out. Mainly because I didn't feel enough older to comment.

    I feature my 84 year old mom in my blog a lot, as in the past two posts, with what I call View From the "80s" and she draws a large crowd with her wisdom and humor (you'll have to drop by to check her out).

    However, truth be told - and I haven't said it in blogging at all in the past year - MY next birthday is rapidly approaching and I'm going to be 61. That may surprise you, Mike, and those of you who follow my blog, but there it is. I've admitted it. So I, myself, could say a lot about the advantages, the lessons learned, and wisdom gained in getting older, and do so in my blog.

    For all the trials and tribulations I've been through the past three years, there is not one single day of my entire life I would go back to. Not one.

    I'm well on my way on my journey home and I'm so looking forward to the big homecoming we'll all have when we get there. What would I want to go back to here in this temporary world? Not one thing. Nope. And that's a big advantage.

    Dee

    By Blogger Dee O'Neil Andrews, at 1/11/2006 01:29:00 PM  

  • Kate & Dee,

    It is so cool that you both blog when some people your age may not even own a computer. And to echo Julie, thank you for teaching us younger women through your words.

    I love the bloggers I've met these last few months, and have seen this dynamic of older teaching younger a lot in blogging. An added bonus I didn't expect to receive that day I signed up to make a comment here!

    By Blogger Amy, at 1/11/2006 02:39:00 PM  

  • Late, as usual, but on purpose this time. Mike, I've been mulling this over all day, searching, grumbling, and am reluctantly jumping in. The wonder of my 6th & 7th decades deserve proper description and hopefully, I'll be able to do so.

    When I turned 60 I jumped up and down, thanked the LORD because, as a senior Christian woman, I finally KNEW what He wanted me to do - be a Titus woman. Yippee!! Humpff! God decided it was time to take me on a brand new learning journey - He removed any "I'll do it myself" - placing a "what do YOU want me to do, LORD!" in it's place.

    It is an overwhelming and awesome compliment that my LORD would take a senior citizen woman down such an exciting new path.

    It was as though He sat me down and said, "You are going to listen to Me now, you are going to learn My ways, about My will, You are going to begin to use all the experience I've showered on you these 60 years and use them for MY Glory." Wow!

    I learned very quickly that He had a ton of surprise parties waiting for me, including returning to the US after 30+ years in my beloved Mexico.

    He began stripping away misconceptions regarding His Word, His Church, His Will. He answered questions about who my fellow believers are in Him and are they all to be found only in the CofCs, as I'd been taught by my dearly loved dad? And if I had any doubts about it, He sat me down in the middle of an Evangelical congregation for 8+ years, showing me gifts I'd never considered mine before, opened even more curiosity about Him and His Will - too many things to mention here.

    As my body aged, and my spirit grew in equal proportion, He taught me I HAD to learn to accept certain gracious offers from others, that there is an ever growing list of things needed to be done but that I can no longer accomplish. Big blow to vanity and pride, believe me!! LIfe lesson in humility, and how to accept grace extended by others.

    But glory, glory, I found that while accepting a helping hand, God had opened my heart and voice to help the hurting, the recovering, the lost and confused. He gave my verbosity a new purpose; speak HIS words of comfort, orientation, encouragement, to tell of His love.

    It's exciting to be a senior citizen in God's army. Yes, He is showing me the signs of His loving gift wrap as my body wrinkles, readying me for His eternal gift of life with Him forever. But in the meantime, He keeps me toeing the line of obedience, all the while showing me new blessings every day.

    As Kate said, I find myself using the popcorn prayer; telegrams of praise, petition, intercession, and thanksgiving as situations arise. Communication with Him is constant. He's even bringing dreams to mind for the first time in my life. I've never remembered dreams, but I do now. When someone's name comes to mind, I immediately get in touch with them - I figure Jesus wants to touch someone through my phone call or visit.

    The beginning of each decade has been wonderful, but this one is by far, the most exciting. Thank You, dear LORD,thank You!!

    By Blogger Kathy, at 1/11/2006 04:24:00 PM  

  • Kate,
    Here is a question for you. How do we 40 somethings encourage our over 40 somethings to remain involved at church. We have a problem at our congregation with those women who are now retired, feeling as if they have retired from service too. We long to hear from them. We long to serve with them. We desire to hear the wisdom like you have shared on Mike's blog today! It would mean to much to us as we struggle through our midlife journeys. Any thoughts on ways to encourage them to keep active at church? Thanks so much for being willing to share your thoughts. You've inspired many today!

    By Blogger Snapshot, at 1/11/2006 06:43:00 PM  

  • Kelley, I think many of us older ones feel we need to step aside and let younger ones learn to lead. If we didn't step back, how would the younger ones ever begin? There are other reasons too. Oriental societies revere their elders and are eager to learn from their wisdom. Our society is not like that. Sometimes we retreat because we are made to feel our "old timey" ideas aren't relevant in today's world. Perhaps if you speak to your older members....say just what you wrote on this blog....make them know you truly want their input....they will be more willing to share their journey with God.

    By Blogger Kate, at 1/11/2006 07:13:00 PM  

  • I knew that there was always a reason why I enjoyd a good glass of wine. As you probably know, some wines age well and others don't. The longer I live the more amazed I am at older Christians who continue to grow spiritually and stretch their faith. I hope I can be a well aged wine some day and not just a bottle of vinegar.

    By Blogger Joel Maners, at 1/11/2006 11:15:00 PM  

  • Kelley,
    I witnessed something special last year in Thailand (where people really do respect their elders). During the yearly Soncran festival, the older members of the church sat at the front of the church and the younger christians kneeled in front of them. The younger people poured a small amount of water on the hands of their elders and asked for a blessing. The older Christians provided spoken blessings on the younger. It was a powerful moment as we honored the wisdom of our elders and asked for their blessing. Some variation of this Thai tradition could work at your church, too.
    -Russ

    By Blogger R Debenport, at 1/12/2006 03:52:00 AM  

  • Russ,
    All I can saw is WOW! What a beautiful time that must have been! Another example of an oriental society respecting their elder members.

    By Blogger Kate, at 1/12/2006 04:16:00 AM  

  • Thanks Kate! It feels like we've done everything short of beg, but I just keep hoping and praying that they will be moved to truly lead us. Those of us who are younger (odd term when I'm hitting 40) need it so desperately. Russ that is an amazing image I'm seeing in my head. Thanks for sharing! I heard someone say one time that you never retire from serving the Lord. It should only get sweeter as the years go by. I pray that for my own ministry efforts. Again, thanks Kate!

    By Blogger Snapshot, at 1/12/2006 04:33:00 AM  

  • So many great comments I had to take another turn. My dad turned 90 in December. He still gardens and loves to grocery shop where the entire Safeway staff knows him by name. For my whole life on his birthday he would say "Life begins at___." He has always been excited to start a new year. This year he said he "enjoyed the big 9-0, first day of the last of life!" That made me kind of sad. I've learned so much from my dad. I haven't always appreciated who he is and have mostly been embarrassed by him and his zeal for life and God and people. Now I find myself strangely becoming more and more like him. I've written him a letter and told him all of this and I think he got a big kick out of it.

    By Blogger Candy, at 1/12/2006 04:44:00 AM  

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