I think when I was younger, I assumed that life at 28 would be settled and almost boring. I mean, really, don’t you already have it all figured out by then?
But we don’t, do we? When I look around, I see so many of my friends in very complicated situations. My heart rejoices with those who are getting their dream jobs and starting that special relationship they have wanted for so long. I grieve with those who are suffering with the tidal waves of rocky marriages and post partum depression. Life is just plain complicated.
I’ve been thinking about what it means to grow older and how in our culture there is such a negative stigma with aging. It doesn’t take much cultural observation to see that our cultures (in the States and Chile) look down on aging. “Fight it!” the culture tells us. There is something sad about getting old, seeing the years pass you by, your body doesn’t work as well as it used to. But in older (and wiser) cultures, there was honor in aging. I’d like to get some of that back.
What if our goal wasn’t to stay young forever? What if instead of dedicating time to fighting the aging process, we pursued maturity where we are? How do you feel about the word “maturity”? Is it a negative word for you? Do you shy away from it? Or is maturity something you seek in life?
My pastor Cristobal, who is one of my nearest and dearest people here, after working with me for 10 months made a passing comment about my age. It turns out he thought I was considerably older than I am. He thought I was 34 or so. Um… no. 28 years old. I think many 28 year olds would find such a suggestion an insult. Don’t we want to be 25 again? But really and truly I was so encouraged by his mistake. The first thing that came to mind was that he thought I was mature enough to be in my mid thirties. After working so closely with me, seeing my successes and failures, he thought I had the maturity to be 34 years old. What a compliment! It actually made me relax. I am on a good track.
I know my mother thinks I’m being silly when I say that I like gray hairs, but I think any fear I have in getting older is that I am not mature enough to be older. I have this image in my mind about what a woman in her late 20s should look like. She should have her life put together in such and such way. Do I measure up to those standards? Am I good enough to be considered a “grown up”? I think so. And I think the more I focus myself on pursing maturity wherever I am, the more content I will be with what I have. And the more content I am with what I have, the more I will live out of joy and not out of fear.
So bring on the gray hair! It doesn’t scare me, it’s a crown of wisdom.