I was in Costco the other day–for those who don’t know what Costco is, it’s a warehouse store–and I saw something that made an impression on me. There was a tiny older woman, completely gray, somewhere in her 70s, who was holding onto the shopping cart and she was saying something to a man who was in an electric cart. He looked to be her husband.
I didn’t hear a word she said, but something about her expression showed happiness as she regarded him. She had an impish smile on her face–she almost looked like a fairy of sorts–and it was clear that the age of her spirit was far, far younger than her body. Within moments of watching her, I decided I wanted to have the same girlishness as her at her age. I want to still have something of childlikeness about me, even as I approach my final years.
I’ve been realizing over the last few months that youth has very little to do with age. It has far more to do with the state of your spirit.
For many of us, it’s easy to go through life and begin to carry burden after burden, not realizing we have them on our backs, until we begin to feel old and worn out. It shows in our faces, our attitudes, our step, even the way we dress and take care of ourselves.
I know, because it happened to me. After 25 years in a largely unhappy marriage, and focusing much of my attention on my children, I eventually evolved into a woman who was overweight, who cared little about clothing and had resigned myself to being frumpy at 50. In fact, as I contemplated divorce and facing life alone, I felt I’d missed my window of opportunity earlier when I was younger, and perhaps would have had a better chance of meeting another man.
Thank God He gave me back my joy, and when He did, my broken spirit slowly arose within me and I began to shed my old life, and to drop the burdens one by one. I began to see people responding to me, well before I realized I’d even regained my joy. Then one day it occurred to me: it wasn’t my age that had been holding me down. It was my previous unhappiness and lack of joy.
Now that I’ve been in my “new” life for a little more than two years, it’s as though the old “me” has passed away, and I am a completely new person. Last October, one of the burdens I decided to drop was my weight. I’ve lost nearly 30 pounds. At 5’1″, 30 pounds makes a big difference. With the weight went the frumpiness, and now I get a kick out of shopping for clothes. I get a kick out of feeling pretty.
Our spirits don’t age, but sometimes we burden ourselves to the point where our spirits feel old and weary. Then our mind, body and attitude follows suit. But Jesus wants us to be like little children throughout our entire lives. He wants us to have unfettered joy, and to let our laughter bubble up from within. He wants us to have a spring in our step and a sparkle in our eyes, and to take time to play.
A few weeks ago, I was spending time with my boyfriend. It was in the evening, and we were at my home. For some reason, I couldn’t stop giggling. He kept looking at me with a smile on his face, as though he didn’t get the joke. I didn’t either, but the harder I tried to suppress the giggles, the more they bubbled up from within. It was some of the best fun I’ve had in years. I’m 55…and if you’d asked me 30 years ago how I’d look and feel at this age, I certainly wouldn’t have expected this. For me, now that I’ve been released from the terrible sadness of my former life, and been given a glorious new life, 55 feels like 25. No, I don’t look 25, but with the weight loss and the new sparkle in my eyes, I look pretty darn good. And joy is very attractive.
[God] Who satisfies your years with good things
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle. (Psalm 103:5)
God can renew our “youth” –the youth of our spirit–at any age. If we’ve become burdened and haven’t had a good laugh in a long time, or experienced true joy, then perhaps it’s time for a spiritual revival, if you know what I mean. Ask God to to take your burdens and renew the youthfulness of your spirit, so that you can soar like the eagle. And giggle. A lot. For no reason at all.