“Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.” Psalm 71:18
I recently celebrated yet another birthday. I remember as a little girl thinking my next birthday would never arrive, but now each one seems to roll around more quickly than the last. As I pondered the passing of another year, I began to wonder how I’m managing at this art of growing old. I would like to age gracefully, but what does that actually mean, and how can I pull it off. I’ve lived in the south my entire life, and when I think of aging gracefully, images of a neatly dressed lady with white hair attractively arranged on top of her head pop into my mind. I can see her sipping iced tea while rocking in a white wicker rocker on a large front porch adorned with beautiful hanging geraniums. But when I actually take time to contemplate the subject, I realize that’s not exactly what I have in mind. Maybe I don’t necessarily want to grow old gracefully, even though I have a great admiration for graceful ladies. Perhaps what I really mean is that I want to age with a heart full of grace. I long to be a reflection, as well as, an extension of the incredible grace that I have been an unworthy recipient of. And I believe that many of my readers have that same desire. So, I’d like to share some suggestions on how we older, as well as, younger women can be growing as women of grace.
One way we can grow in this area, is to consistently remind ourselves of the grace and mercy we have been shown. In the seventh chapter of Luke, Jesus said the sinner woman loved much because she had been forgiven much. The truth of the matter is that we all have been forgiven far more than we can begin to realize. And when we take time to meditate on that not only does our love for our dear Savior intensify, but our love for others does as well. One wise pastor said “grace people should be gracious”. Particularly as we age, we need to be patient and forbearing with those who are coming behind us, remembering the immeasurable grace that has been poured out on us. We would do well to recall the poor decisions and foolish blunders of our youth, and therefore not expect perfection from others. Being women of grace also means we need to be forgiving women. Just as we have been freely forgiven, we are to freely forgive. We sin against God and harden our hearts when we refuse to forgive those who have wronged us.
A woman of grace is not living for herself. She realizes that this life is not about her. She is living for the glory of another as the Apostle Paul stated in II Corinthians 5:15, “…He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” A grace-filled lady lives for the glory of God and the good of others. She is consistently looking for ways to serve the Lord by serving those around her. Many years ago I heard a friend of mine say something that still rings in my mind and heart. While speaking to a large group of ladies she challenged us to “walk slowly through the crowd”. I find that when my focus is on myself I’m usually in a rush. I have an agenda as I’m scurrying to check things off my to-do list. But I, like you, am surrounded by people in need…people with physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Sometimes we just need to slow down and observe and really listen.
My husband, Don, had a precious aunt that we both loved very much. Whenever we would make the trek to North Carolina to visit my mother-in-law, we would always plan a trip to Aunt Virginia’s house too. Even though she never had any children of her own, we rarely found her at home alone. There would usually be someone there visiting with her. We could pretty much count on finding a sibling, a niece or nephew, someone from her church, a neighbor, or a friend enjoying a snack along with encouraging conversation and a contagious laugh. People just loved spending time with Virginia. She was always genuinely interested in others. Without fail she would want to know what the Lord was doing in our lives and our ministry. She would ask questions about our travels, the people we had met, and the books we were reading. And the children were never left out. She wanted to know about their school work, ball games, and other interests; and our son could never get out of her house without playing something on the piano. Whether we were visiting with her or she had come to see us, I can never remember her murmuring about her pains, heart-aches, or troubles, not even after a bout with cancer, the death of her husband, or losing the mobility of her legs. Up until her departure from this world at the age of ninety she was inspiring and lifting others up. She was indeed a woman extending heart felt grace out of an overflow.
Like Aunt Virginia, women of grace are a joy and delight to be around. They magnify the Lord with joy on their countenances, kindness in their actions, and praise on their lips. Sadly, there are a lot of bitter, cantankerous older women, but we don’t have to join their ranks. No one becomes a spiteful, harsh, or grumpy senior citizen overnight. That type of disposition grows insidiously with every decision to be uncharitable, to criticize and belittle others, to hold onto a grudge, or to be self-focused and full of self-pity. By God’s grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit we can choose to forgive, serve, speak well of others, and encourage and edify those in need of uplifting. Tomorrow we will all be one day older, and so the time for action is now. The choice belongs to you and to me…will we age gracefully and full of grace, or will we simply age?
Soli Deo Gloria