The Secret to Aging Well
Yesterday my daddy turned 55. (Am I’m allowed to tell the Internet that, Dad? Too late.)
Anyways, he turned 55, but the awesome thing about my dad is that he doesn’t act 55. In many ways he still has the heart of a kid. He’s fun loving, goofy and has the insatiable sweet tooth of an 8 year old boy. (Once, in elementary school, he took my sister and I out of school to drive to the opening of the first Krispy Kreme in the area just so we cool get a hot glazed donut straight off the conveyer belt.)
On the phone yesterday, my dad told me that he didn’t feel 55. He said he used to think mid-50’s was old, but now that he’s made it there, it actually doesn’t feel that old after all.
His comment made me realize something: Age is not a number as much as it is a frame of mind.
Our conversation reminded me of a brilliant quote from General McArthur:
“Youth is not entirely a time of life – it is a state of mind. It is not wholly a matter of ripe cheeks, red lips or supple knees. It is a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life. It means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of an appetite for adventure over love of ease.
Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul.
Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair – these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust. Whatever your years, there is in every being’s heart the love of wonder, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing child-like appetite for what next, and the joy in the game of life.
You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.
In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer and courage, so long are you young. When the wires are all down and your heart is covered with the moss of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then, and then only, are you grown old.”
General McArthur is so right. The songs we allow to play in the recording chamber of our hearts matter tremendously — more than the date on our birth certificate.
I’m 26, but, often, I act old. And I don’t mean old as in “mature” or “grown-up.” Whatever age it is that people become crotchety and cynical—I act like that…especially on days that I neglect to spend time with God.
On the days when the recording chamber in my heart plays my worries, fears and anxieties on repeat, I find I have very little space for laughter and dancing and goofiness.
When the pressures of the World (“lose more weight”, “speed up”, “make more money”, “you’re not enough”, etc.) play louder than the Truth in Scripture, I find myself feeling heavy and impatient and moody and crotchety.
When the song that plays in my heart is nothing more than my lengthy to-do list, I can’t hear the “I love you’s” and the “you’re worthy’s” and “come to me’s” whispered sweetly from heaven.
Yet on the days when God’s Word reverberates in my soul like a subwoofer at a Hillsong concert, my perspective is clear and positive, my heart is light and joyful! I’m zealous and hopeful and youthful.
When my heart dances to the melody of 1000 gifts God has lavished on me, and my ear is tuned to hear His grace, I am free to laugh and dance and be goofy. I am free to take hold of life that is truly life. (John 10:10)
What about you? Is the song playing in your recording chamber today aging you or is it setting you free?