Intentional Christian aging is different than slipping, sliding, coasting and idling into our senior years. That ought to be our agenda as Christians—thoughtful aging.
Much of life is relatively clearly defined. Each stage is well-modeled: infancy, toddler times, kindergarten, elementary school, high school, college or career, marriage, parenthood. We know what these phases involve. We have been given lots of guidance on what is expected of us in each stage; how we should conduct ourselves in each stage. But, not so much in the third quarter or the second half of our lives. That stage comes so rapicly that we lack models, traditions, patterns, and guidelines about how to live to 95 or 100 instead of, perhaps, to only 75 or 85. I like the humorous line that says, "I knew I was going to grow older, but I didn't know it was going to happen so fast."
By nature or training, my dad, while a wonderful, generous, caring person, did not know how to concentrate his energies on the younger generation, or even his peers, the senior group. He was awkward at giving encouragement, support, and admiration, and in showing interest or giving pats on the back.
To my way of thinking, we pinpoint right there a major opportunity and a responsibility for life after 60. Instead of the conventional workplace productivity, we can now step instead into relational business. Seniors need to know how much they have to offer the younger generation — just in terms of paying attention to them and speaking clear messages of love, encouragement, support and kindness. The vibrancy and bravado of youth should not distract us. And 'feelings' of love are not enough – positive words heal, lift, inspire, strengthen, immunize.
Beyond our own families, here is a second career for all of us. We can give our attention to sending messages of care and kindness all around. We can SHOW UP!! We have time now to SHOW UP: to be with people in their tough and painful circumstances, whether they are next door, across the street. We can SHOW UP to hurting strangers by phone, through snail-mail or email on the internet.
For all of my readers who are over 60 (it might also be a good idea for those who are younger), I recommend to you that you undertake a 'self check'. Consider where your focus is most of the time: are you sharing the wisdom of your life experiences and modeling for others, or are you 'slipping, sliding, coasting and idling' into your senior years? Are you outer-focused, or inner-focused?
You are filled with tons of good stuff! Please! Share it. Sprinkle it around each day.