I dedicate much of my writing to providing positive and encouraging words of hope and inspiration, but I also must be truthful: We are growing older. I apologize for reminding us about that, but instead of all the negative attributes of aging, we should embrace it more like we are a fine wine that is becoming more delightful and appreciated.
Those of us who are noticing a few gray hairs and aching joints, relax and count your blessings. It is God who has allowed you and me to be at this place and time and to enjoy each day with those we love. Being older allows us to use what we have learned from our past and to apply it to our lives today and also to share this hard-earned wisdom with those who love and respect us.
Aging is not about a number. It comes from abandoning our excitement and zeal. The years may wrinkle the skin, but letting go of our joy and enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.
As we head into fall (my favorite time of the year), I realize many of you who read this column are probably living in this particular season of your lives and have received the blessing of a long life. Speaking for myself, I was so thankful for making it to retirement (I was a bivocational minister). For the last few years, it has been a pleasure to go back to school, become involved in volunteer work, write books and newspaper columns and lead worship at church (which I love), travel and enjoy my grandchildren.
It's humbling to realize that many have not been this fortunate. For me, this season of life has been some of my most enjoyable and productive years and I look forward to new adventures, being with family and to see what other experiences God has planned for me in the future.
I am one of the ministers at our church, and we are honored to have an older congregation filled with wonderful people who love God and have served him for most of their lives. I'm fascinated with how many people I know who are in their 80s and 90s and are feeling good.
I spoke with a man the other day who was sharply dressed, had a sparkle in his eyes and was having no serious health issues. As we were talking, I asked how old he was, and he said the first week of October he would be 95. I could hardly believe it as he looked much younger. I asked him about his secret to long life, and before he could answer, another man, who just turned 80, stepped in and jokingly said it was his wild, late-night party life. Ha! I think that taking care of ourselves is important, just like regular maintenance is wise with anything we want to keep in good working order.
Another blessing that many older individuals have is the blessing of a sharp mind. I know many people whose minds are just as fully functional as any younger person's. My mom is 85, and I cannot tell any difference in her mental cognition from when I was a kid. She is in good health, feels good, drives anywhere she wants and lives independently.
I'm a chaplain at a veteran health-care facility, and I enjoy talking with the interesting men and women who live there. Many of them are in their 90s, and they know more about current world events than I do. They have been around the block a time or two, as they say, and are also very knowledgeable about the Bible. I love to hear them tell fascinating accounts of their lives and funny stories. I hope I can maintain a vibrant attitude as they have.
I want to propose a toast to you today and give God all the glory for the good life you have lived and for all the wonderful things he has called you to do. You worked hard and planted a lot of good seeds and are now reaping the blessings of that harvest. This is a time to celebrate the transition from what we once thought was important to what we now know is truly important.
It is said that growing older is like climbing a mountain: The higher you advance, the more difficult it becomes but the further you can see. Never regret growing older; it's a privilege that many are denied.
Dr. William F. Holland is an ordained minister, Christian author and chaplain. Read more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com.