Growing old in our culture (the United States that is) can be quite discouraging and challenging. Contributing to this dilemma, is society’s obsession with an outward image. To be beautiful is to be young and agile. Beauty, therefore, is defined by an outward image.
If we buy into this definition, we become targets of the enemy’s fiery darts. Thus, we may find ourselves laboring to maintain an outward youthful image. So where will that leave us when our hair turns gray, our skin has lost its elasticity, or the wrinkles in our face refuse to be concealed?
Recently, I witnessed someone who is a contradiction to society’s definition of what is beautiful. She is an elderly woman, a former high school teacher of mine. I watched her as she slowly and carefully (and I might add gracefully) ascended the steps to her destination. While her hair is gray, and she is obviously not as agile as she once was there is one thing about her that has remained constant–her inner beauty. To me, she is as beautiful now as she was when she was my favorite high school teacher (when society only noticed her outward beauty). However, the nature of her beauty did not grow dim with age.
Of course, it’s not that we shouldn’t strive to look our best. It’s just that we need to understand that our true beauty comes from within. What’s on the outside will fade in time, no matter our efforts.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.
Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4
For example, when I look in a mirror, or decide to move after sitting for a spell! Or my energy level gives out before I’m finished with a project. And I’m always on the lookout for a hairstyle that doesn’t shout out to anyone who notices it that I am an old woman.
Living in a world that is obsessed with outward appearances,
I’m nagged with the fiery dart of over focusing on how I look on the outside. Just watch tv for a few minutes and you will see what I mean. So how do I resist such temptations? The Truth thought to undo this temptation is 2 Samuel 16:7, “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (Whew, that’s a comfort!)
I want to see myself through God’s eyes, not man’s.
I have the desire to travel to the 3rd world country where my son and his family will be living after stateside. I did get to go once–living in the bush, struggling at times, but I did it! And I was no spring chicken!
Next year I will be visiting my son, daughter in law, and 2 grandsons while my son is studying overseas. I am ecstatic about that! But realistically, as my age increases, my visits might diminish.
So, I fight the fiery dart of fear
that my health might play out, preventing me from making such trips.
Self-Awareness is good. Self-centeredness, not so good.
I do want to be more self aware so that I can be realistic about my limitations, but I know I must be careful to resist the temptation to overdo the self-focusing. I don’t want to forget that I live my life for Christ. I want to focus on the Truth that
“it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
Besides, too much self-focusing narrow’s one’s vision! And that would make me more vulnerable to Satan’s fiery darts. Nope, don’t intend on cooperating with the enemy on that one. Instead, if I’m smart, I will make a mature (I’m old enough) decision to cooperate with God’s plans.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
If I make that my focus, then I need not fear growing old! For I will make my plans as God leads, trusting Him to give me what is needed, when it’s needed to fulfill those plans. Like it says in 2 Corinthians 9:8. (Won’t miss out on anything that way!!!)