I don’t know when this happened, but some time in the few years after I hit fifty, I began to notice a subtle difference in the way strangers perceived me.
It’s a curious thing, this aging. People make assumptions about you.
Like, at the store: The young produce lady “helped” me just a bit too much. The girl at the doctor’s office who talked to me in a condescending way after I entered my “height and weight,” instead of “weight and height.” Or the twenty-something associate at the new and unfamiliar computer store who assumed I couldn’t find my way around and gave me kindergarten-like instructions to get to the computer paper aisle.
Lately, I’m getting this a lot: “at your age…” from my dentist, my doctor, the radiologist, the folks who desire to profit in the funeral business, the life insurance people, the pharmacist.
And now that I’m not gainfully employed, the assumption is that I’m not doing anything productive. Or that I’m not as capable of thinking or working effectively.
I remember noticing this happen to my older friends. Somehow, it didn’t occur to me that this judgment would strike me one day, too.
I think it has much to do with our culture’s worship of youth: taut skin, supple, lithe bodies, health and vigor.
It’s true. I’m not beautiful. Age has scripted lines around my eyes and dragged my flesh downward.
Here are ten truths about older people I’d love to imprint on younger people’s minds and hearts:
- Age is a number, not a diagnosis.
- Age confers wisdom, accumulated knowledge, and skills that younger people often lack.
- Age makes us slower, but our thinking is often deeper, wider, and higher.
- Age spurs us to focus on achieving goals we put on the back burner when we were younger.
- Age helps us appreciate the preciousness of life, and to recognize how quickly it passes.
- Age gives us perspective on human relationships, particularly challenging ones.
- Age teaches us patience.
- Age gives us greater appreciation of nature and the arts.
- We may not see as well, or hear as well, but we feel pain as acutely as younger people.
- We are valuable, not just because of our experience and wisdom, but because our lives are precious in God’s sight.
“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” (Job 12:12 NIV Bible)