So if I may continue …
… while I do love being my age – I truly enjoy being with people who are not my age. Older. Younger. It just makes for a richer life. And my days are generally spent with 20-something year olds, and my evenings are filled with my favorite 70-something year old. The wisdom I get daily from my therapist husband is priceless. I especially love it (in a weird sort of way) when I come home and tell him the “advice” I’ve dished out to a hurting young woman and he quickly assures me that the counsel I offered was totally off base. I often hear: “I can’t believe you said that!” It really is a good thing that love covers a multitude of bad advice.
It is also quite humbling and honoring to be brought into their struggles.
I work at being empathetic and a good listener, however, I know it’s probably not much help to say – “just hang on, it truly will get better if you struggle well.”
But it really is true.
Paul (the apostle) said it well:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up.
I don’t think the “harvest” that Paul is referring to is automatic for any human—at any age. Do you see it? Let US not become weary in doing good! I find it truly sad that most people indeed do become weary in doing what is right and good and do give up. I recently read a book on aging – and his statistics on “finishing well” wasn’t pretty.
Life really is hard. And, that’s what I think 20-something year olds, in this first world country, haven’t figured out, because I think they were raised in a time when life was easy. Some (surely not all, and I am indeed stereotyping and taking lots of liberties) think its supposed to be easy – having every modern convenience known to mankind. I think often our “first world problems” resemble the likes of a hang nail rather than some debilitating illness – and yet our first world problems of depression, anxiety and discontentment have proven to be truly debilitating.
So, do I have an answer? No.
But I think this Psalm does:
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green. (Psalm 92:12-14)
Now that’s life giving.
Here’s a passage that I think sheds light on our current cultural predicament:
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? (Isaiah 55:2)
I do it too! When I come to the end of a day that has been spent on the frivolous and self-indulgent I plop in bed worn out and totally discouraged. But at the end of a day that I have practiced self control, there is shear contentment.
Thomas a’Kempis says it this way:
True peace of heart, then, is found in resisting passions, not in satisfying them.
I think our young, restless, reformed generation has taken our “freedom” in Christ to a whole new level – and that level seems to be producing depressed and anxious humans. We have become Qohelet—he’s the writer of Ecclesiastes—and one totally-depressed-self-indulgent-has-it-all guy.
It really is about clothing yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s the answer. Romans 13:14 says so:
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Is that easy to do? Maybe for you. For me it is my daily battle. But, that’s when I need to fall on my face (figuratively of course) and give myself the same advice I doll out so readily: “just hang on, it truly will get better if you struggle well.”
See why I’m looking forward to my 8th decade?