A strange title for a blog that’s supposed to be about “fullness of life” for older people? Perhaps you’re right to think that, but hear me out: I think we have to come to terms in our churches with the reality that in the coming years an increasing percentage of members will be both old and poor. That the fullness of life they expected in their later years is not going to be possible.
Author and consultant Elizabeth White has spotlighted this phenomenon in her startling volume, 55 Unemployed and Faking Normal: Your Guide to a Better Retirement Life (http://www.55andfakingnormal.com). She opens the window on the statistic that many of us are NOT actually living as well as we pretend. Although her thoughts apply most specifically—and most hopefully—to people in her age cohort, her insights easily transfer to many older people who may be living behind the façade of economic normalcy.
What’s this have to do with living fully? Unless we come to terms with each other’s actual lifestyle realities, we might easily diminish or eliminate our mutual well-being because we are pretending to be someone we are not. How can fullness of life emerge or blossom when it’s a false front?
What to do? How could our churches be places where we took off our nice-masks and got to know each other’s true situations in life? If we visited and met in homes instead of always at church? If we asked hard questions about “giving to God”? If we offered solid, practical and personal resources for folks who are not keeping their lives above water financially? If we were emotionally honest with each other?
The church is a place of caring and of well-being, but can that happen if most of us are faking normal?