By Gary L. Wyatt, Sr.
At the time that I am writing these suggestions, I am 63 years old. If you have lived as long as I have, you must have heard someone say, “Age is just a number.” I’m always bothered by that statement because often the person who is making this statement doesn’t want to act their age or they don’t want to face the fact that they are getting older. Age is not just a number; it’s more of a gauge as to where you are in life and where you are headed, such as young age, middle age, or old age.
If we live long enough, we have the blessed privilege of experiencing all three phases of life, and I might add that growing older is a divine privilege that millions of people have not been afforded the opportunity to experience. Those of us who are middle aged or older should be thankful that we made it thus far, and we should figure out how we are going to grow older more gracefully.
I’ve heard it said that old age is not for the faint of heart, mainly because of the physical ailments and mental lapses older folk often experience. Even with these challenges, if we look diligently into life, we can find ways to age gracefully. These suggestions may or may not fit you, but hopefully at least you will give them some thought.
In my 63+ years of life I have made a lot of mistakes. Recalling those regrets always puts me in a bad mood; it also makes me feel like I was and still am a bad person. As I was talking to my wife, Cheryl, not long ago, I told her that as I recall the negative things in my past (my bad), I must determine to also recall the positive things in my past as well (my good).
The reality is that the good in my past far outweighs the bad. As I recall my past, I choose to recall the positive things that I have accomplished and experienced. My positive recollection of my past propels me to push ahead with the intention of continuing to do good with the life that I have left here on earth.
As I recall the good I have done and experienced in my past, I must also practice releasing the negative things in my past on a regular basis. I sometimes find it hard to even forgive myself for the negative things that have happened decades ago in my life. But I am learning that if I am going to be mentally healthy in my present, I must release regularly the negative things in my past that hinder my current progress. Otherwise, the enemy attempts to make me feel like, “What’s the use in moving forward when I have a past that is full of mistakes?”
The spiritual application that helps me is this: remembering that my standing is one thing, and my state is another. I have right standing in Christ, and that right standing trumps the negative state that I had in my past, that I may have in my present, or that I may have in my future. I can release all my past mistakes because they have been washed away by the blood of Jesus. Whomever Jesus sets free is free indeed.
Every now and then it is good to reward yourself for past and present accomplishments, service rendered, or goals you have reached over the years. You and I should never feel guilty about throwing our own party when necessary after all we have done. No guilt is warranted when we have worked hard and achieved some dreams and goals in life. Do not apologize or feel guilty; reward yourself unapologetically, and do it to the fullest extent you possibly can even if it means spending some of your children’s inheritance!
As I get older, what I think about often is not how old I am getting, but the quality of life I will have as I age. I have watched older people empty out their lives to the point where they seem to have nothing left in the tank to give. They sit alongside the road of life needing AAA to come and supply them with “just a little more gas” to make it to their next destination in life. And there are some old folks who choose to sit alongside the road of life and “call it a day,” a week, a month, or the rest of their life.
I don’t know what fuels or refuels your tank, but for me it’s mostly reading and riding my electric bike. Notice I said “electric” because my electric bike allows me to accelerate without peddling. Yes, I peddle a lot, but when I hit the throttle and just ride, I feel like the wind is refueling and refreshing me. IT’S A WONDERFUL THING! And as spring is just about here, I will be refueling as much as possible so I can have something in my tank to fuel me for the goals that I still plan to accomplish. So, find something that will refuel you daily; do not just sit in a rocking chair and let the rest of your life pass you by.
When most people get to the age of 65, they decide to retire, and that’s their business. When I look at the word retire, I see “tire,” which is one letter short of “tired.” Maybe the person is tired of the job that they are retiring from, and I get that. However, at 65 no one should be tired of life or of living. With this in mind, how about “refiring” mentally? For me, that means to start thinking about what life can look like moving forward. To have a vibrant, thriving, and exciting life, our mentality must be set on fire. This happens by dreaming again and allowing the dream(s) to reignite the flames of passion in us. Yes, senior citizens can dream again and can accomplish those dreams if and when they “refire” mentally.
Let’s be sure, I am not talking about having dreams that your body is not capable of accomplishing. I am talking about having dreams that are within reason, dreams for which you still have enough in the tank to propel you towards or for which you can create a team to help you accomplish those dreams. Refiring is a mental issue that requires the proper accelerant. My accelerant is simply this: Father Time is undefeated, and the clock is ticking, so I must make best use of the time that I have left here on earth.
Consider the acronym AGE, which stands for ALWAYS GIVE EFFORT!
Your latter can be greater than the former if you can remember to ALWAYS GIVE EFFORT! Shalom!
About the Author
Gary Wyatt has been the lead pastor at SureHouse Open Bible Church in Tacoma, Washington, for over 28 years. He joined Open Bible Churches in October of 2000 and has served as a Pacific Region Board member and Northwest District Director. He currently serves on Open Bible’s Unity Commission. Gary is a husband, father, grandfather, musician, singer, composer, and author. He resides in Spanaway, Washington, with his wife, Cheryl.