What’s age got to do with it?

by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.

Ominous predictions regarding the advance of “old age” for baby boomers continues to hit the airwaves. Since I’m bringing up the tail end of the baby boomer generation, I cry, “Slander! Don’t imprison me in an age box! I will NOT go peacefully and willingly!”

Who says the passing of years determines our age? Not astrophysicists! These thinkers report there is in fact no connection between the daily spinning of the earth, its annual circling of the sun and the aging of humans. So, why do we put ourselves into age boxes that are supposed to define who we are and what we’re capable of doing?

Let’s begin with the premise that our nature is not defined by age but by what the Creator gives to His beloved creation. And what God gives can only be emanations of Himself — such spiritual qualities as goodness, beauty, strength, ability, wisdom, vitality, intelligence, usefulness and so forth. Because these qualities have their origin in God, they are as infinite as their source and cannot be limited or defined by some mistaken, mortal concept of time and age.

Now I realize the battle to overcome feelings of mortality, with all the expected and accepted aches and pains associated with age, can be daunting. But I’m embarking on a journey to overcome my own slavery to the limitations that age tries to impose. And I say you can, too!

While the news media announce baby boomer doom and gloom, they also applaud accomplishments made by those whom they categorize as seniors. Such as the successful mountain climber at age 81, the man still flying airplanes at 86, the man golfing competitively at 103, grandmothers organizing and playing in a basketball league, or the grandmother who went back to college for her master’s 50 years after receiving her bachelor’s degree. These stories are newsworthy because producers consider them “unusual.” But what if these stories were not thought unusual but rather the normal and natural continuation of life and purpose?

Numerous examples in the Bible teach us the infinite and timeless nature of life. Elizabeth was far past the age of childbearing when she gave birth to a son. And Samuel had the wisdom and discernment to hear the voice of God when just a young child. Abraham could have let his 75 years convince him that God was calling upon the wrong person to father a nation, but he didn’t hesitate to believe and follow God’s direction.

Certainly, neither days nor years mattered to the Master in his healing work. He restored a woman who had suffered from a blood condition for 12 years. He healed an impotent man who had struggled for 38 years. He healed a man who had been blind from birth. He raised a man who had been dead for four days. Christ Jesus showed that an understanding of God and a willingness to do His will enables one to transcend all human timetables.

Could this be the road to ageless living — a divinely based outlook that can remove the view that claims aging has validity? An outlook that asserts decrepitude is not natural or inevitable.

God has called each of us to fulfill a specific mission, and we can be humbly willing to be God’s instruments for His purpose. And, indeed, this higher motive empowers our ability to do the work needed. Since we’re all treading the path of eternal life, our mission and purpose continue in eternity. They don’t end at some humanly established age. And our resources, those inherent spiritual qualities for accomplishing our purpose, are inexhaustible and renewable.

This assurance from Job gives me encouragement: “Thou shalt be steadfast, and shalt not fear: because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away and thine age shall be clearer than the noonday; thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning” (Job 11:15-17). These words tell me to not dread or fear any mortal view of my life with its many dire predictions and low expectations — that I can look to a divinely based outlook that precipitates a view open to unlimited possibilities.

Freedom from humanity’s immovable opinions and fixed beliefs on aging is possible if we dare to imagine those unlimited and infinite possibilities. Wendell Phillips, renowned American abolitionist of the 19th century, wrote: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” So, we must be alert and diligent in the watch to move our thought and actions beyond restrictions of age. This will require focusing more on God than matter, more on our spiritual qualities and less on mortal characteristics and impressions.

Instead of ruminating on reasons why we can’t do something, we must affirm that as God’s children, we can do what He directs us to do. When God directs, God enables!

We can accept our divine inheritance as children of God right now. Age has nothing to do with fulfilling our life purpose. This means you and I can live our purpose unboxed and without age limits.

Birthday Blues

by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.

Do you know the most popular song in the English language? It’s a song that brings in approximately $2 million in licensing revenue each year. A song that’s been sung to infants and presidents and been performed in homes, schools, businesses, playgrounds and even in space. Although it’s been translated into countless languages, it’s often sung with its English lyrics in countries where English is not a primary language.

The song? “Happy birthday to you!”

Imagine two Southern kindergarten teachers (sisters) in 1893 who write a little ditty that they hope will be a useful teacher’s aid and instead compose the music to a song that is sung millions of times each year around the globe. The original lyrics were a classroom greeting entitled “Good morning to all.” There doesn’t appear to be any definitive proof of who actually wrote the lyrics “Happy birthday to you.” The first known written version of this song didn’t appear on the American scene until 1935, using the sisters’ tune, but it didn’t take long before it had become a worldwide hit.

I guess since I’m expecting to be serenaded with this song by my family in three days, I have birthdays on my mind. I remember when birthdays were the most special of all days. It seems at least in the first half of our lives, birthdays are the coming of age, bringing with them privileges and opportunities that we often long for — such as the age we go to school, the age we can get our driver’s license, the age we get to vote.

Age also brings with it the loss of benefits, such as when you’re too old for a kid’s meal or a child’s movie ticket or amusement park pass. However, I recall being excited when I was too old for such things, because this meant I was nearing the world of adulthood. Of course, age also brings the return of similar perks when age labels us as qualifying for senior rates and specials. My oldest brother is happy about this, mostly because this means he can now receive senior discount coffee at his favorite fast-food restaurant.

I think I’m going to be like my grandmother, who was born on Feb. 29 during a leap year. No one was ever certain of her age. In fact, most of my life I remember her being 76 years old. For some reason, she liked this number. I think I’ll stick with 49 myself — indefinitely.

Perhaps we give age too much credit and power. After all, the calendar year was created by man, not God, and the number of days and months in a year has changed throughout history. I guess humankind has found it helpful for its historical recording to have some type of calendar date to include in its notes. But who knows how many days were in the calendar year in the days of Noah? The first time “year” is mentioned in the Bible is in reference to the 600th year of Noah’s life!

Ever wonder when age became an influence on abilities and a determinant for the length of life? I’ve always been intrigued by an account I read in Mary Baker Eddy’s writings. She told a story that was reported in a London medical magazine, The Lancet, published I presume sometime in the 19th century, about an insane woman who apparently had been disappointed in love and lost all account of time and years. Believing she was still living in the same hour when she was parted from her lover, the woman stood daily at her window watching for his return. Some American travelers saw her when she was 74 years old and guessed her to be a woman under 20.

This woman’s mental state kept her physical appearance young — no wrinkles, no gray hair. She never thought herself to be growing old, so the passing of years didn’t make her age.

I don’t know that I can convince myself that years don’t make me older, but lately I sure like that idea. Certainly, if one believes in eternal life, then that doesn’t just mean life has no ending. It also must mean life had no beginning. So there is not much use for a calendar in eternity.

In the Bible, Job describes age well when he says, “Thine age shall be clearer than the noonday; thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning” (Job 11:17). When I ponder these words, age feels fresh, young, new, invigorating, lively — like anything is possible in a new day. Maybe those two kindergarten teachers had the lyrics right for a birthday song. I think I’ll ask my family to change my birthday song lyrics to:

Good morning to you,
Good morning to you,
Good morning dear Annette,
Good morning to you!

I feel younger already!