I admit—I have no earthly clue how much gray I have under all this hair color. I see hints of it every month or so and I rush out for the latest hair coloring product that promises to wash the tints of silver away. I, like many women, started coloring my hair when I was much younger and it has become a habit now. Although I will tell you, I once told my daughter I was going to let my hair grow in just to see how gray I really am and she was horrified. “Oh nooooo, you can’t do that. People think you are so much younger than you are,” she said. So I keep on hiding the gray.
Only I wonder if I am also covering up the wisdom I have gained along with each gray hair. I wonder when we stopped appreciating a long life full of wisdom and experience that is crowned in a head of gray. When did aging and gray hair become the thing to avoid? When did wrinkle creams and facial procedures become the rage for the average woman?
When did we stop respecting those silver-haired mature women who hold the key to lives well lived?
Many of my friends are part of the Gray Hair Brigade but you would never know it to look at them. I still remember the day I was lunching with a friend and she told me she was in her 50s. I was shocked! I thought her to be in her late 30s/early 40s. She was taking such good care of herself and I had no idea until I looked more closely and saw the hint of laugh lines around her eyes and smile. You see we are living younger more vibrant lives than ever before. A number of us had our families later in life and we have a younger mindset as a result. Others celebrate our ability to preserve our youthful appearance.
I keep wondering if we are hiding our wisdom in the process. Are we setting the bar too high for the generation coming behind us to be the perfect looking wife, mother, and businesswoman? Are we sending a message that wisdom only rests in the young and fit. Are we saying image matters more that reality? Job said, “Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.” Are we embracing the wisdom God has given us to counsel those coming behind because we don’t want anyone to know how old and experienced we really are?
Ecclesiastes 12 reminds us to make the most of every day we have been given, “before the door to life’s opportunities closes.” Some of us may think that the door has closed because those pesky gray hairs show the world that we have lived a few years. Yet, if we still have the energy and the passion, why not step into something new and exciting. Why not share our time with the youngers who may actually impart some wisdom back into our lives? Even if our bodies are failing us, let us not forget that God has a plan and that plan didn’t stop when we started picking up a retirement check.
We all have gifts that God has given us. He gave them to us to use in his name and for his credit. In Matthew 25 Jesus spoke first about those to whom much has been given making the most of those gifts. He wants to grow our gifts, but that will never happen if we throw in the towel and curl up on the couch. Jesus goes on to tell us that we are to take care of each other—as if we were caring for him. I love that image—me caring for Jesus. Wouldn’t we all do that if we encountered him sitting on the park bench or waiting in line for food? Well, we CAN do that today by providing for others with our donation of time and money.
The best part of aging is that we have the opportunity to give into the lives of others. As a woman, I would suggest that there are plenty of single moms who would love to have you adopt her. I know there are young children who are not near their grandparents who would love you to adopt them. I know there are individuals in troubled marriages who would love to have another couple mentor them—take them to dinner and hear that they can get through and that you will walk with them. There are groups that help the homeless, help children from lower income families, or help the disenfranchised in some way. These are the places your years of living could be invaluable. Not only will you bless the life of someone in need, I promise that God will bless your life with a joy beyond imagine.
So my gray-haired friends, keep on coloring your hair and working those abs. Keep on taking care of yourself and keep on living with laughter and joy. And never forget that you are here because God wants you to be here. Spend some time in prayer and ask God what he wants to do with these senior years you are living. Embrace them. Share them. Live them with excitement.
“Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life…Young people, it is wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember you must give and account to God for everything you do.” Ecclesiastes 11: 7-9