Years ago, I caught a glimpse of my reflection as I stepped into the shower, stunned to discover I had somehow slipped on Mrs. Doubtfire’s lumpy bodysuit without realizing it. What was once funny to me instantly felt like the cruel joke of menopause.
Around the same time, I remember shuffling to the bathroom, looking in the mirror, and not quite recognizing the woman blinking back at me. I wanted to chalk it up to an early morning, sleepy-eyed stupor, but I knew better. I had celebrated enough birthdays to know better.
One day you might wake up and feel ancient too, like your best days have passed you by. You’ll wonder, “When in the world did that happen?” as you examine the merciless brushstrokes of age. Graying hair, creeping lines, droopy lids, sallow skin — each may be years in the making, but gosh, they seem to appear overnight.
The struggle with growing older isn’t just about appearance though, is it? There is emotional and psychological impact too. You question if your age is the reason you didn’t get that interview or promotion. Invitations and opportunities dwindle. As an elder member of the Sandwich Generation, you know that when your adult children have problems (financial, job, marriage, health), it makes parenting teenagers look like a cakewalk. And you find out caring for your own parents is unchartered territory, at turns frustrating, heart-wrenching, and flying blind. You struggle with identity, value, relevancy, or purpose. But then, as a follower of Christ, you struggle with struggling because by now, shouldn’t you know better?!
Take heart, friend. What you’re feeling and experiencing is normal. You’re in good company. And today I get to remind you of an important truth you know but may have temporarily forgotten: Yours is a God who is always and only for you! And because of who God is and what He wants for your life, you can trust that He can use whatever you’re wrestling with for your good, His glory, and for the advancement of the gospel.
In fact, when it comes to aging, new doors will open. Lily, my Ukrainian hairdresser-turned-friend of nearly twenty years helped me see this without even meaning to. My long-awaited appointment couldn’t have been more needed; my hair color had faded, my roots had grown out, and patches of white, silver, and gray were threatening a takeover. Lily greeted me as she often has in recent years, “Darling, your wisdom is showing.”
I internalized her words — Your wisdom is showing — and wondered if this could actually be said of me. How was I stewarding my experiences, life lessons, and all God has shown me over half a century? Could it be, by God’s design, that wisdom naturally companions age? A pastor of mine once defined wisdom as seeing life through God’s perspective, and I think we only learn to do this over time and with practice. I wonder if this is what the psalmist was thinking when he penned Psalm 90:12 —
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Haven’t you found that the older you get, the better you understand the brevity of life and the value of today? Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, so how can we make the most of what we have right now? Understanding this ushers in the gift of gaining a heart of wisdom.
As I considered Lily’s words in light of my own issues with aging, I invited God into my vanities and asked Him to fill my insecurities with His assurances. I asked Him to heal my broken places with His love, to remind me of who He is and who He says I am in light of the gospel — to remind me that I’m not made for this world, but while I’m here, I get to share the beauty of a forever kingdom. It doesn’t erase the creeping lines or lift the drooping lids or brighten my sallow skin or tame a wayward brow, but it helps me not to dwell on what doesn’t matter so much anyway and to focus on what does. And honestly, isn’t this all truth we need to contemplate regardless of our age?
When “my wisdom is showing,” it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God and what He has done and is doing in my life. God used Lily to challenge me not just to embrace my age as a gift but to steward it in a way that serves others and honors Him.
Growing older has revealed my vulnerabilities, inadequacies, and desperate need for God. It has also shown me we’re more alike than not. Aging is the price we pay for life, and it’s worth it. It means we have another day to share the good news of the gospel with someone who doesn’t yet know Jesus.
So, if you catch a glimpse of Mrs. Doubtfire when you’re stepping into the shower, maybe it just means your wisdom is starting to show.