The effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are continuing to come into focus. Those of us who are older realize that it’s not only the residents of Texas and Florida who feel as though they have lost everything. We older adults can see how we might find ourselves in the same position.
No matter how robust our lives and how sure we are of our capabilities, there will be times when we realize that we are vulnerable to forces—physical, relational, emotional, spiritual—that take everything away. Not just our possessions, but also our dignity or self-esteem, our sense of purpose, our hopes or our courage. Maybe even our previously unwavering trust in God’s providence.
Soon to come: Quiet stories that come with any human tragedies. We will hear about older adults suddenly poor. We will see in older interviewees’ eyes the telltale signs of deep depression that has no words. We will watch otherwise strong and capable elders cry because they have had everything taken away.
The passive verbs here? They’re the sign of another emotion that can cascade into our souls at this time in life: We might feel like more acted-upon people than actors. We could easily lose our sense of agency to agencies. We might think of ourselves as victims—of the natural world, of our own decisions, even of the choices our loved ones make about our well-being.
What to say or do in these circumstances? “Buck up because God loves you” is harder to hear now than when we were younger. Our emotional and physical selves don’t recover as quickly from these tearings-away. One thing is certain, though: The presence and help of others around us. We can trust another passive verb: We ARE loved!
By God’s grace, that will never get taken away…