Weekly Thought – November 10, 2015
Fred’s desire to finish well caused him to think about the process. He refused to cruise into his senior years without serious thinking. His thoughts help all of us prepare for the later years. His wife, Mary Alice, maintained a youthful outlook. In her late 80s she finally allowed others to consider her elderly.
Visits to Asbury University, Lindsey Wilson College, Alice Lloyd College, and Greenville College signal the beginning of the activities for 2016 and 2017. Thank you for praying as work is underway.
Notes on Aging – Part Two
The psychologist Erik Eriksen wrote of moving deterioration to the periphery. This has been extremely helpful for me. It keeps me from bemoaning what I used to be able to do and focus on what is left. The core of my being is founded on the indestructible so that never changes. Things like physical disabilities, lack of mobility, and restricted social engagements all get pushed out to the sides. My gifts, my focus on the significant, the strengthening of relations – all these remain alive and well. My uniquenesses never change – just the way I operate does.
In aging I have found several activities I would recommend:
1) Express love. My Mother taught me the importance of touch in older age. Other friends showed me how critical it is to stay in touch. I always tell those who call, “Keep me in the loop.” One aspect of love you wouldn’t ordinarily expect is the freedom to express fear. Love is an outward motion, desiring the best for the other person.
2) Establish disciplines – It is easy to slide into schedules with no routine. I find it key to stay in regular contact with friends; to get dressed every day; to do all I can to maintain my health; and to keep my mind active through reading, thinking, and conversations.
3) Clarify the reputation – “Finishing Well” has always been a high priority. I want my last days to be ones of contribution and productivity. I don’t want to be a selfish old man.
4) Develop new interests – One of the areas I have appreciated in my older age is intercessory prayer. More and more people ask me to pray for them. I guess they think I am getting closer and closer to heaven so I must have more clout. But I find my physical immobility allows me spiritual mobility.
5) Maintain family traditions – As one who is challenged by holiday traditions I still see the value of bringing the family together and observing activities which become “Smith stories.” Mary Alice shared recipes with the women in the family and in doing so passed down her legacy.
6) Be realistic in regard to self – Older age is no time to try to run the sprint you missed in the mid-forties. Focus on the strengths and do not spend time trying to turn weaknesses into strengths. Understand limits without regret. See the value of each season.
7) Discuss final plans with counselors and especially with family – Let your family members know what your wishes are. Do good planning to avoid hardships and hard feelings.
This week think about: 1) Which of the seven particularly jumps out at me? 2) How can I plan to finish well? 3) What wisdom should I be passing on right now?
Words of Wisdom: “Put the deterioration to the periphery.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Even when you are old, I will take care of you, even when you have gray hair, I will carry you. I made you and I will support you; I will carry you and rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4 NET Bible)