Oh, to reach back in time and speak to my fifty year old self…there are some things I wish I could have known. Maybe you are in approaching a big milestone birthday. Go ahead, eavesdrop; I’m good with it.
Welcome to your fifties, girlfriend! You just completed an amazing period of your life. Appreciate it; you were in your peak! In case you need a recap, your forties were eventful.
Perhaps you found your dream job. By now you are beginning to realize that, but hang on because you are going to love it even more!
Or became a grandma and occasionally when you were out alone with the cherub people thought you were the mom. You are rocking the grandma gig.
Your nest may have emptied. You discovered the joy of long walks and occasional suppers on the sofa. Life was less demanding and you had more time to build your marriage and pursue your passions.
Of course there were some hard times, but bless your heart, you grew through them because they revealed the cracks and flaws. It was an awakening; you paid attention. You experienced the sorrow of loss…of people, things, and maybe even a dream or two.
You learned that life is fleeting and precious and you moved forgiveness way up to the top of the list of your first responses. You discovered that the greatest gift you can give yourself is the forgiveness of another. There is so much freedom in letting go!
Here you are, a new decade stretched out before you. You are anxious. You’ve seen hard and scary things happen to women in their fifties.
In spite of your public declaration that you are middle aged, you privately reckon with the harsh reality that not many live to be one hundred.
All of the over the hill jokes are now in your own backyard and you are not amused. And the truth is – your body might just be showing some signs of age.
One Friday night you will be scrubbing the sink like a boss and you’ll hear a strange pop. The searing pain in your shoulder must be related, but how and why?
You will spend the next six months and way too many of your flexible spending dollars on specialists who will tell you it can’t be fixed. The indentation in your shoulder where a muscle used to fire is the new normal. For the first time, you hear the phrase “When people get to be your age….” Get used to it.
One Sunday morning you’ll be strutting down the preschool hallway, slightly over confident because some sweet young momma just mentioned your grandma hotness…and you’ll turn that cute wedge sandal over and break your foot. Just like that, you go from cute wedges to an orthopedic boot. You’ll think to yourself “Six weeks. I can do six weeks.” No one warned you about delayed bone growth after fifty. For the record, THREE MONTHS. IN THE BOOT. But you rocked that boot, sister. Walked all over Disney World, pushing strollers, because MAGIC. And because you are more determined than ever to prove that you can.
One night as you prepare for bed you’ll take a long look into the mirror and realize you are gazing into a face you don’t recognize. She has wrinkles and a few gray hairs are peeking out around her ears. She looks familiar, alright, but more like your mother than you. And you’ll resolve to smile more because you have great teeth. And use sunscreen.
Yes, the next decade is going to introduce some new challenges, but there are so many good reasons to embark on it with joyful hope:
- Grandchildren. You are going to be smitten, my dear. You are going to rearrange your life for these little ones and you will love every minute.
- Menopause. You will move from always being cold to fighting the urge to disrobe in public to escape the fiery furnace of your body in a hot flash. Don’t worry, though, by the time you are sixty they’ll be mostly over. And no more monthly visitor; trust me, you won’t miss it!
- Wisdom. You prayed for it in your twenties. As a young mother you read every related Bible verse and even tried clicking your heels together while reciting said verses, hoping for it to come. Soon you’ll discover that wisdom was not so much a gift to be received all at once; rather a package to unwrap. With each ribbon loosed, bit by bit it is yours.
- Courage. You will try new things and stretch yourself for no reason other than knowing that you can. Your dreams have a shelf life. This is the time to run after them.
- Opportunities to invest in others. Volunteer, mentor, and serve. You have more to offer than ever before.
If I may, just a little advice from the wiser side of the decade:
Be kind to yourself. If you judge yourself harshly, you’ll be tempted to mete out the same to others.
Get honest with yourself. Do you really want to run a marathon? If you do, get after it. If not, stop beating yourself up and set some realistic goals.
Celebrate. You won’t regret choices to carve out special moments with the people you love. When a friend wants to have coffee after you’ve changed into your pajamas, for the love, put on some yoga pants and go. When that grandson wants to talk to you about Minecraft or Star Wars, remember that you’ve listened intently to many adults who were far less interesting.
You are alive for a reason. No one knows the sum of our days but God. Go forward with confident hope, my dear, for your Lord has prepared you for the days to come.
“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a Godly life.
Better to be patient than powerful, better to have self-control than to conquer a city.
We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.”
Proverbs 16:31-33 NLT