In what seems to be a confused world, it’s important to say to ourselves and others: No, we’re not confused! No, we’re not baffled by technology, and no, we’re not resisting change simply because we’re old. Other personal capabilities are functioning quite well, which help us live fully inside our present-day culture. We are fully capable of holding onto our identities, our perspectives and our purpose for living. “Confused” probably does not describe most older adults.
Many of us have chosen to live more simply, more slowly and more thoughtfully. This may mean that we have let some parts of the changing world go whizzing by, and that we’re not giving them much attention. We live inside deliberately constructed lifestyles that satisfy us and give our lives meaning. Because we have finally come to a point where our lives are manageable, we may not want to reinvent ourselves or to add new twigs to our nest. We know what we believe–our values are well-integrated and well-practiced. Our decision-making processes have been honed by years of experience. These deliberate choices are rooted deeply in the rich soil of our being—we’ve worked our whole lives to come to this point of assured, confident living. We are full of years!
So when new technologies present themselves, when our nation’s highest political leaders trample on truth, when changes in theological emphases invite us to regard the Scripture differently, when we are invited to be part of an increasingly consumerist society, even when some changes seem to benefit us—we can sidestep the temptation to give up, cash in, freeze in place or run away. We know how to discern what’s going on at the core of things, to pick apart seeming contradictions, to look at long-term causes and effects—including unintended outcomes. We can check our memories of similar situations, re-visit our decisions then and apply what we know to what seems to be true now.
And when genuinely new changes happen along our life journey, we have considerable skills that can help us avoid fearful reactivity. We know how to look for opportunities inside of seeming problems. We can trust our ingenuity, our spiritual gifts, our cognitive abilities, our sense of self—and make decisions that start with hopeful, positive thinking—while also maintaining a necessary wariness about possible difficulties or dangers. We can relish the parts of life we know well and integrate new realities into what we hold to be true, beautiful and awesome.
Because we are old, we can be pleasantly surprised and welcoming of changes. Because we are old, we can put to good use—for God’s purposes—whatever comes along. Because we are old, we don’t have to be confused.
Because we are old, we can live fully.
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