I can no longer read the small print on supplement and essential oil bottles. Presbyopia, or age-related farsightedness, has not crept upon me slowly. Over the past eighteen months, it has slammed into me with the force of a bullet train hitting a brick wall at full speed. Every month, I’ve noticed that my ability to focus on near objects, especially print, has been worse than the previous month.
Hook that together with the other unsavory signs of aging in my body, along with two comments I’ve read online that insinuate that human life is biologically meant to be over around age fifty, and my old nemesis, depression, has found a wide-open opportunity to try to regain residence in my soul.
Oh, did I tell you that I’m forty-nine years old?
This morning, I told my husband about the two comments, and asked for encouragement. As a person of faith, I believe that life has purpose until we die, even if we can no longer make babies, see well, or have much energy.
J reminded me that we are eternal beings.
Yes, we are. I know that, but this morning, I needed somebody to tell me that.
But that still left me with a question:
Why does God allow our bodies to deteriorate?
I know because of the Fall, God removed the ability for the human body to live eternally on earth. But why couldn’t He have made it so that we had youthful bodies our entire lives?
I mean, for people like me, anyway, who have worked hard for the past twenty-five years to live a healthy lifestyle. 😉
You could say that the aging process is also part of the consequence of the Fall. Possibly.
But as I pondered the question, I realized that there might actually be purpose in the slow deterioration of the human body after several decades of life. When Adam and Even ate the forbidden fruit and were subsequently kicked out of God’s presence, they had to work to reconnect with Him again. And it was a struggle, indeed, until Yeshua sacrificed His life so that we would have instant access to the Father.
But God knew people would continue to be self-centered and stubborn, and that most would ignore Him as they journeyed through life, trying to succeed on their own strength and power.
And when a person is young, that’s a totally doable thing.
Not so when your energy and strength begin to wane, and you start to have problems in your body that you’ve never had before. Life gets harder to do on your own.
Could it be possible, I wondered, if our heavenly Father ordered the aging process so that people would see that they can’t rely on themselves to achieve what they want to achieve? Could it be that, in His love for us, He ordained this as one of the many ways that He draws people to Himself?
I brought this up to my husband, and he offered an additional suggestion. How would the younger generation transition into the responsibilities that had been held by the older, if they were not forced to take them over because the elderly gradually had to release them because of their failing bodies?
In other words, the aging process allows a smoother transition of running the world from one generation to the next.
Then I had this thought: in the ideal world, adult children would care for their aging parents, as how life used to play out, and how it continues to play out among certain non-Western and non-modern cultures. Perhaps the need to care for one’s parents is a divine gift intended to produce greater growth in a person that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise?
Whichever of those above musings is true, I’ve come to believe that the gradual loss of abilities as we gain years isn’t simply a divine punishment for sin (what was Yeshua’s death and resurrection about, if not to redeem us from such?) or just an inevitable part of human biology. There is a reason.
And yes, I still firmly believe (because the evidence is clear) that proper diet and nutrition, doing work that fulfills you, avoiding toxins as much as possible, etc., slow down what we have come to term “the aging process.”
But as I have contemplated all of what I’ve just written – from the frustrations with my own body, to why uncomfortable physical changes have to happen at all – I’ve also come to despise the word “aging,” as well as the phrase, “getting older.”
“I’m not getting older, I’m getting wiser” hits more of the mark that I’m aiming for. But today, the new perspective I’ve gained on aging takes that idea a few steps higher.
My new perspective on the later seasons of life
I am not aging, as in the sense that my body is gradually leading me toward death. Instead, I am preparing for an eternally youthful, eternally perfect body. I am, if I may coin a new word (I think!), “younging.” Because ultimately, this journey on earth, including the struggles with my imperfect body that is gradually losing its natural functions, is leading me to the fountain of youth.
Turns out, the fountain of youth is not a mythological place. It’s always existed.
It’s more commonly known as “eternity with God.”
I am forty-nine years wise, and I am younging, not aging. And I choose to embrace the process, however annoying and inconvenient it may feel along the way.