I wanted to participate in a flash mob "dance" for non-dancers :) at a Christmas party. Instead, I found myself walking down the street for a little exercise with a cane in one hand, just "in case", wishing both my knees would quit hurting. The thought of surgery - any surgery - on any part of my body :) is terrifying to me. (The thought of going to Africa on a mission trip sounds awesome to me but just walking into a doctor's office fills me with dread. Not to mention dealing with insurance). So contemplating problems with not just one knee but with both, is, to say the least, daunting for me. Most days I don't even want to acknowledge it, let alone discuss it.
Sometimes, honestly, I just feel super anxious about this whole getting-older thing. Yet I love this time of life and if it weren't for the the fact that my outer man is slowly decaying, I would say this is the best time of my life. Period. I love the fact that I can rock babies in the nursery on Sun. morning and not feel like I have to be in the service soaking up strength to face a tough week. (I miss the pastor's sermons and the music but I have time to listen to podcasts, pray and just sit and soak before Him through the week without feeling hurried. So I don't come into the morning worship service feeling in desperate need of spiritual triage to get me through a tough work week as I used to do during my last years of teaching. That in itself is a great thing).
I love the fact that I don't know where God is going to take me next, that I'm serving in capacities that I never, in my wildest dreams ever anticipated. Like handing out food at Healing Waters. Even though the volunteers are an unlikely mix, I thoroughly enjoyed putting pieces of cake on paper plates today while the woman next to me (who just lost her husband in May) sang Christmas music in a beautiful soprano voice. At one point I looked at her and said, "You must have sung solos for audiences." She nodded and smiled and kept on singing, kept on putting green beans and pasta on the plates before handing them to me as if this were her main talent - ladling food for the poor. Later I told her that I thought it was amazing that she is so recently widowed and yet she can sing and serve. Again, she just smiled and said, "I just have a different life now." I know I can learn from her and from so many others whom God is bringing into my life at this time. I'm constantly amazed at how He does that.
Like standing out in a neighbor's yard last night while Phil, who serves all the time regardless of his schedule, put a battery in our friend's car. Her husband is very sick and may not be able to continue to take their child to school if the doctors don't figure out what is wrong with him and soon. And there I was, able to offer to take her child to school or pick him up, if it's ever needed. Being available to do things like that brings joy to my heart.
And then there's the icing on the cake - like getting to take my niece to school when we both "need" a McDonald's breakfast to jump start our day. These are sweet times for me because soon she will be away at college. If I weren't retired, I wouldn't have these opportunities.
Even putting up Christmas decorations - it used to seem like such a chore. And then after it was done, I sometimes couldn't totally enjoy them because in the back of my mind was the knowledge that what goes up, must come down. Often, right after Christmas, I would take everything down so that my last week of Christmas break would be as stress free as possible. Last year, however, I left my decorations up for about a week after Christmas simply because... I could! :) Because I wasn't under the gun to squeeze every ounce of relaxation out of my break before getting "back into the saddle again".
There are so many things about retirement that I absolutely love.
But there is one thing I fear. And that is being a terrible witness for Christ as I deal with the down side of growing older. Pain comes. To many it comes early, way too early. I've seen children and teens handle illness with aplomb. But I'm not sure I can do the same. Fear of what may come. Fear of how I might let my Savior down dogs my steps some days when both knees hurt and I see others my age going through one surgery after another.
This is something I don't want to do; I don't want to be a terrible witness. Yet, I know that even on good days, my witness can be less than stellar... by a long shot...
I've read that when Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, was terminally ill and people would ask him how he wanted them to pray for him, he would respond the same way every time: "Please pray that I would not lose my first love for Christ." What an awesome prayer!
Selfishly, I would ask as I go further into the growing-older thing (for as long as God allows me to do so), that others would pray that my love for Christ would grow deeper and my faith stronger. And that I would continue to experience the joy of anticipation, the freedom of following Christ - without undue concern over the natural consequences of aging. Even just to have the privilege of growing older is a gift and some days I forget that.
Many years ago, when I was in my twenties, I memorized the words to a song, In Heavenly Love Abiding, and one stanza spoke volumes to me then and still does now, still resides in my memory after all these years.
"Green pastures are before me which yet I have not seen
Bright skies will soon be o'er me where the dark clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure/ my path to life is free,
My Savior has my treasure and He will walk with me."