There are more than 75 blog posts and articles using this photo of “Very Old Barbie” on the Internet (and I can’t find the original source) – but she’s obviously captured the imagination of many people.
I keep thinking, “Wow! I hope I look that good when I’m “Very Old Dawn!”
Besides her long silvery coiffure, Very Old Barbie has puffy eyes and wrinkles on her forehead, upper lip and neck … and charming “smile lines.” (It’s probably a good thing they didn’t show Very Old Barbie below her shoulders.)
In these days when commercials abound for anti-aging creams, “lifts” for double chins, and “guaranteed” wrinkle removers, the focus seems to be on preserving a youthful look.
This might be tough as I get older. I already have more wrinkles than a Shar Pei!
But I’m wondering if people ever think these days about aging gracefully … or preparing to live in eternity with God? Thankfully, everything (body, soul and spirit) will be perfected for those who are in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:1-5, 17). Oh, how I am longing for that day.
My spiritual mentor, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, often says something like this: “… since I was a little girl, my goal in life has been to be a godly, old lady. I’ve always had this image of what this godly old lady looks like.”
I don’t know too many women who had such foresight as a child. But I do understand the “image” thing.
I’ve learned so much from watching my husband’s mom, Adele. We are so different, but she has inspired me for years to strive toward excellence. My own mom, Patricia, taught me the value of endurance and trusting God, even in the dark.
But going further back, I watched two precious grandmothers grow old gracefully. I wanted to be just like them.
They demonstrated such joy and contentment as they modeled the love of Christ. Grandma Lillian taught me to love God with all my heart; Grandma Dorothy reminded me, “Your love for God should always result in love for others.” I treasure the legacy I received from these two precious women.
In more recent years, I watched my brother-in-law’s mom, Nancy, age in God’s grace. She carried so many of my prayer burdens. Eventually, “Grandma” Nancy‘s mind played tricks on her and sometimes robbed her of right thinking; but even then, I saw glimpses of the marvelous woman she was. “I want to be just like you in a few years,” I told her.
When she passed on to glory, we were comforted to know we’d see this same joyful, God-loving spirit in heaven. I still miss Nancy’s precious smile and dancing eyes.
Watching all of these women, I’ve come to understand:
Aging well requires intentionality.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.“ And works of art require skill, an investment of time and creative effort.
I decided, long ago, to invest in my “old age.” The first thing I did was pray for wisdom.
Then I asked God to create the “Very Old Dawn” He wanted me to be. On my part, cooperating with God was all about choices. Over the years, I’ve been learning to embrace and apply the scriptures that will make me more like God’s Son, Jesus.
Some of my aging gracefully choices:
- I choose to be a loving and forgiving woman (not bitter) (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13-14).
- I choose to be a faithful woman to God and my husband (1 Samuel 12:24; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Hebrews 10:23; Ephesians 5:22-24) – a woman of godly purpose (Titus 2:3-5).
- I choose to represent Christ with godly character – the outworking of my life in Him (2 Corinthians 5:20a; Romans 12:9-13).
- I choose timeless truth and will stand against all false things (Ephesians 6:14a; 2 Thessalonians 2:15) – even if it means a “battle” against evil (Ephesians 6:12).
- I choose to serve others and not focus on selfish pursuits (1 Peter 4:10; Mark 10:44-45; Philippians 2:5) – seeking ways I can “stir” women up to live for the Lord (Hebrews 10:24).
- I choose biblical priorities, not the changing whims of my culture (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 6:33; Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 4:4).
- I choose to be a good steward of my time, talents and “treasures” (John 17:4; Psalm 90:12; Colossians 4:5; 1 Peter 4:10; Matthew 6:20-21; Deuteronomy 8:17-18; Ephesians 2:10).
- I choose to live in light of eternity, not for the temporary (2 Corinthians 4:18; Colossians 3:1-4; John 15:16).
- I choose to leave a legacy for my children and grandchildren (Psalm 78:4; 103:17).
Understand … I am not perfect in choosing these things. Not at all.
But at least I have a biblical template for my choices, and overall, my choice is to partner with God in my sanctification as I follow Jesus. To decide to surrender, trust and obey. To triumph, ultimately, in godly maturity.
There is an old Hasidic saying that describes exactly how I feel about aging:
“For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned, it is the season of the harvest.”
Every season of life is special, but this season of the harvest is so fulfilling. A precious time with opportunities to pour other women’s lives; and unique opportunities to bless my children and grandchildren and try to give them a hunger for God.
If the Lord does not return before I die, someday people will likely sit at my memorial service or funeral and consider my relatively short life (short in terms of eternity).
I hope they will say they saw something of Jesus in me. I hope they will say I numbered my days and applied my heart to wisdom. I hope they will say I lived for a Kingdom greater than any kingdom I could ever hope to build here on earth.
That would make Very Old Dawn very happy. Better still, I think that testimony would please my Father God.
It will be worth the investment!
How about you? No matter your physical age right now, how are you investing today in your old age? Do your investments count for eternity?