Lately I’ve noticed the recurring appearance of “1 languishing”, a term used to describe how the COVID pandemic may have affected the nation.
The non-languishing part of me wants to 2 push back. I’m still vibrant, alert, eager about life, grateful and generous. I still have miles to go, with plenty of oomph to explore fascinating horizons. I don’t want to be set aside quite yet.
As I edge toward the inevitable transition from active to frail older adult, though, I know that the time will come, COVID-related or not, when I’ll have to accept that languishment is part of my life, my identity and even my calling. That realization adds a little humility and gentleness to any pushback.
I’m not ready to accept that this long year of sequestration has eroded my core. I’m also not willing to overlook all that’s been added to my basic capabilities during these long months of near-solitary living. Sure, I’ve wondered if parts of my social intelligence have withered, but have also spent hours praying about the well-being of others. I’ve stayed in virtual and vital contact with friends and family. Through a 3 shared writing project, I’ve continued helping our congregation to draw closer together. Wisdom has seemed more available.
Those of us who are older may have a unique-and-critical role in the post-pandemic world that’s dawning right now. The way out of any languishing may depend on how we care for those around us—helping each other resist too-early notions that we’re washed up. Naming what’s still possible for us to do together.
Let me encourage you to be an anti-languishing force in someone else’s life. To shine light on their still-active attributes and capacities. To assure them of their usefulness in what God will surely accomplish in the coming days.
1 The term denotes an observable dimming of capabilities, outlook or physical attributes. The contexts for this gradual weakening are less-than-ideal—e.g., prisoners languish, lonely people languish and neglected elders languish.
2 None of us likes to be told that we’re losing it—becoming ineffectual, past our prime, pitiful or needy, but that might be an unrealistic approach to what’s really happening.
3 With our pastor’s partnership, a retired journalist and I have written once-a-month in-depth profiles of members—“Stories of Triumph and Inspiration”—for our congregation’s digital newsletter.