Esteeming the Beauty of Age
The moment she walked through our apartment door, there was an almost-tangible radiance that emanated from her. She greeted us with overflowing warmth, and a delighted smile graced her face.
She was an older woman who had recently become a widow. Instead of being subdued and serious, she joyfully testified of God’s faithfulness to her since her husband had died. She was full of stories of how God had orchestrated many “divine appointments” for her. And when she asked us questions, she listened attentively as we answered. As she and my mom conversed, I could hardly take my eyes off of this remarkable woman. She was still quite beautiful physically with long silver hair, distinguished features, and classy clothing — but it was her inner loveliness that was especially stunning. No one would have guessed that she had so recently lost her husband. Full of joy, love, and peace, she showered Christ’s love on all those she came in contact with.
As she left and we closed the door behind her, my mom and I looked at one another with wide eyes, both knowing what the other was thinking. What we had just witnessed was a supernatural testimony of a woman who had long been walking with the Lord and was fully surrendered to Him. My soul immediately stirred with desire: I want to be like her when I’m older.
A New Perspective on Beauty
We live in a world that prizes youth. Just take a look at all the products out there that are “anti-aging” and specifically designed to keep you looking and feeling as young as possible for as long as possible. If you asked most people under 30 if they are looking forward to growing old, you would most likely get a no the majority of the time. Youth is associated with beauty, strength, sharpness of mind and body, opportunity, and freedom, so it’s no wonder most people want to hold tightly to it. There is certainly nothing wrong with being young. God designed the years of our youth for a purpose, and we should be excited about them! However, we need to be sure that we are living with a correct view of growing older.
Sadly, age is not esteemed as it ought to be, even amongst many Christians. Too often we turn to our peers for advice and counsel rather than those who have lived many more years than we have and have gained wisdom from walking with the Lord through many life circumstances that only come with time.
I heard a very sad and sobering statistic that caused me to stop in my tracks. Through various secular studies, it’s been discovered that we (i.e. the millennial generation) are more likely than any generation before us to forsake our mentors, choosing instead to turn to our peers or simply try to figure things out ourselves rather than learning from the experience and wisdom of older people. Because of this, we are more likely to reap significant consequences that would have otherwise been avoided if we had simply sought the input of those who have gone before us.
Wow, that is quite the wake-up call!
So, how are we as Christians (with, Lord willing, many years ahead of us) supposed to view age?
“The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness.” Proverbs 16:31
“The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is their gray head.” Proverbs 20:29
God clearly puts high value on those who have gained their “silver hair.” In His eyes, those who have lived long lives of faithfulness to Him are worthy of honor.
As Christians, we ought to have this same perspective on aging. We should both honor and value those who are older, as well as not dread signs of aging in ourselves. And not only are we to honor our elders in words and actions, but we are to actively seek out and invite their insight and wisdom. This isn’t just a good idea, but it is absolutely critical for us in our lives both today and as we aspire to be radiant and godly older women in the future.
In Titus 2:3-5, older women are told to teach the younger women. Why? “So that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (v. 5). God designed younger women to be discipled by older women who have gone before. We can learn from the things they have done well and be warned by the things they haven’t done well. We can glean insights that will protect us from wrong choices and function in wisdom that we may not have otherwise known. This may be through a Bible study, or it may be through going over to a godly woman’s house to learn how to cook or clean a bathroom. (Yep! I learned that from my godly grandmother, who is an amazing housekeeper.) Our lives will be incredibly enriched in every area if we cherish and eagerly pursue the older women God has placed around us.
What are some practical ways we can begin to treasure age and prepare for the elderly years in our own lives?
Cherish the Older Women in Your Life
I have been blessed with two very godly grandmothers, both of whom are still living. I could probably write a large book on all of the things I have learned just from these ladies who have spent their lives loving God and those around them. I’ve been amazed at the things I’ve learned just from asking simple questions about their lives.
Look for godly older women whom God has placed in your life. Ask if you can spend time with them. Bake cookies or ask them to teach you a skill you’ve wanted to learn. Simply being with them is a way to grow in treasuring the beauty of age.
Actively Seek Their Wisdom
I can’t tell you how many times I have been stumped in some area of my life or am planning on going one direction and after seeking the advice of a godly older woman have chosen to do something completely different. And I have never regretted it.
This might come from a woman in your church, or it may come from reading a book by a Christian woman from history who has gone through similar life circumstances. Whatever the case, be proactive in seeking wisdom in both small and great decisions. And whether you are 15 or 50, it’s never too early or too late to begin! D.L. Moody put it this way, “Preparation for old age should begin not later than one’s teens. A life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement.”
Train Your Mind to Think Well of Aging
I know most women have their moments of not being excited about growing old. Maybe it’s finding a new grey hair, or maybe it’s realizing that you don’t have as much energy as you once did. But in those moments, ask the Lord to help you to gain His perspective. Thank Him for the things He is going to teach you through the experiences of aging and for the ways you’ll be able to bless those coming after you.
Have you ever seen an older woman like the widow I described in my story? There is a beauty that can’t be explained in worldly terms. There is a joy that can’t be extinguished. There is a peace that can’t be shaken. And all of this is because they have seen through all of life’s trials, that when the physical beauty has faded, when strength and wit have diminished, God is truly all that matters. He is our ultimate prize and the only One worth living for. Oh, how I long to be an older woman like that one day.