A lot of the struggle to defend yourself and figure out your place in the world of family, friends, former colleagues, and the still fast-moving world around you, when you are old, I think is the question of identity. We cling to who we imagine ourselves to be. Many people are trying to help, with mostly, good heart, though some inadvertently overstep.
"You oughta' get a cane!" some say. I resist. Because I know each little assist you take on sends a message to those around you. That, you are infirm. Not what you want to be. So, they won't ask you to do some of the things you love. They don't pay the same attention when they come into your space. You fear you are no longer a significant player.
You find you are struggling with your own ego. "Who am I now?" you ask yourself. "Can't I be part of my world anymore?"
It's really a God question. "Who am I with God? What does He have me here for? What's my role? How can it be different, yet be right, and useful, and fulfilling in God's sight, and in His plan? How can I get focused on what is important to Him?"
Gradually, it dawns on you that He really has plans for you that fit the foundation of your whole life that are exciting and fulfilling. You do have a meaningful place in this world God loves and for which He is still reaching. And, in that setting you are still sent, you still have a mission - particularly in relation to people. As a friend. As an "elder," as the Indians have it in their tradition. You do know some things. You can be an encourager, an affirmer, a needed person in the world around you.
Molly and I learned in our reconciliation work in Africa following the genocide, that Africans love their old people. They make a ready place for them. They are not cast off. They are preserved and valued.
So now, in this new time for us, we can remember the lessons from the Africans, and the Indians - and, of course, from scripture, itself.
Daniel was 90 years old when he was thrown to the lions. And the king who had been tricked by jealous counsellors into putting him there was the first to run to the lion's den next morning to cry out: Daniel, are you all right? Has your God saved you?
Daniel's God had saved him and the king praised that God. That is the same only true God Who has also saved us. He will bring us through. He will show us how to live, and how to play our part in the world. And, most of all, to not be afraid.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES