Growing Old Gracefully

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I took this picture today after I had caught a reflection of myself in the mirror smiling. Earlier in the day, I had been at a wedding and ran into an old friend. We were sitting on opposite sides of the room during the ceremony, and she told me later that, when she first saw me, she hadn’t recognized who I was until I smiled. I’m not sure I’ve ever considered my smile unique; yet, after my friend said that, I started thinking…
They say it takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown; so, I enjoy smiling, sometimes, just for the sake of smiling. I smile at my love, our boys, other kiddos, babies, adults, the elderly and even animals. It only takes a second, and it’s like sharing a moment with a stranger without delving too deep. I like it when I smile as I’m introducing myself to someone, and I see the instant change that happens in the other person. That instantaneous change from fear to confidence, from intimidation to acceptance, from apprehension to warmth and welcome.
I love what an authentic, energetic smile can do for someone’s day. It can cause a baby to start cooing and tweens and teens to start laughing hysterically. (Watch it! That can be contagious!) It can make an elderly person feel loved and valued, and it can make a parent feel capable of surviving that never ending day when nothing seems to be going right! Smiles change the face upon which they are worn, and smiles can transform another person’s day! They can change the whole atmosphere of a room, and they can alter attitudes and predispositions. Smiles can change things.
That’s when I decided to smile deliberately for the rest of my days. I want to grow old gracefully; I don’t want to become an old woman shriveled up like a “prune” (metaphorically speaking), clinging to all of the bitterness of life rather than embracing the good. I want to be full of life and vigor up to my dying day. I want to grasp hold of all that is full of delight, peace and joy. I want to be like the 80+ year old ladies in our church who still have laughter in their being, who can give bear hugs that can break a rib and who always has a funny story to share about her week. I want to be one of those ladies who have such beauty within that it just seems to smooth away all the wrinkles without. I want to be full of laughter, joy, peace and love. I want to be like that until my last breath. I want to be remembered as one who captured the greatest moments in life and who seemed to forget the hardships and pain…or at least who learned from these and moved far beyond them!
I believe it’s all a matter of perspective. Life is hard. It is what it is, but we each have a choice to grasp the bitter or embrace the best. I choose to count my blessings, no matter how big or small they may be. I choose to be that little lady who, in spite of pain, turmoil and strife, sees the grace her faith provides. I choose to see, in the midst of the storm, the sunbeams peeking through the clouds. I choose to learn from the hard and live in the grace. I choose to live life deliberately, love deeply, laugh spontaneously.
I want to grow old gracefully. Lord, let it be true in my life.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come…Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:25, 30

 

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