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Celebrating Old Age

Sara KelmOne of my new favorite writers is Sara Kelm. She's an up-and-coming author based out of Oregon that you should be watching. (Seriously.)

Since I've been ranting on youth and 20-something culture, I thought this post on birthdays that Sara recently wrote was particularly relevant to some of the discussions we've been having on this blog.

I had a birthday recently, and I love birthdays. Everything about them is wonderful: the gatherings of people, the overabundance of sweets, the ignoring of caloric intake. 

Birthdays, to me, are embedded with joy. Maybe this birthday happiness overtakes me because I’m young and naïve. Women wearing a wry smile inform me that my love for days of births will change. For them, the issue isn’t so much the day, but rather the reminder of a new number associated with their lives. It’s another year gone by, another year older. 
The first time I stumbled across Proverbs 16:31, which reads “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life,” I was probably ten. I asked my mom, “So then why do people dye their gray hairs?”  She deflected easily, but there was a flicker of shame in her eyes. 
Our culture throws that shame upon us.  It does not value age or wisdom. Turn on MTV at Spring Break, or any other time for that matter.  America’s version of this world celebrates youth and foolishness. What sells these days is young, skinny people making mistakes.  And somehow, we’ve learned that old age is something to be feared.  We’re afraid of outgrowing our relevance to this culture and to others and being unable to function as we did once. 
But if we trust that God’s direction is supreme, each birthday should be a celebration and a time for looking ahead.  It should be a day of looking back, but also looking ahead to something next with anticipation.  Each day we’re still breathing is an opportunity to be relevant and to function in and through this world. 
That’s a huge reason I love birthdays: they are embedded with hope for the next day, year, and chapter of life.

As I find myself approaching 30 (okay, it's three years away, but still…), I find myself asking questions like, "Did I do anything worthwhile with my 20's? Did I make a real difference?"

As I look back at what I've accomplished in my youth and early adulthood, I find myself getting excited about old age. Because I realize that with age comes experience. And with experience often comes wisdom.

And I need more of that. I used to be afraid of getting old. Now, I'm beginning to actually look forward to it.