While at Starbucks this afternoon I noticed a man likely in his mid 70’s with a wife who was likely in her mid-20’s who the man guided around like a prized filly. The man, with obviously dyed blonde hair which was combed forward to try and cover a bald area, appeared as if he had recently had a facelift with tight pulled up cheeks. He was dressed in stylish clothes that you would likely see in an Abercrombie and Fitch advertisement, was wearing a lot of gold jewelry and paid for his coffee with a twenty dollar bill surrounded by numerous one hundred dollar bills taken from the center of a money clip with an apparent diamond in its center.
I make no judgment of this man. He is entitled to dress any way he wants, display his wealth any way he wants, and marry whoever he wants. Yet as I encountered this individual I could not help but feel this man had a fear. I felt, by his actions, his words, and the way he tried to project a bravado, this man was afraid of being old.
Luke Timothy Johnson in his book, The Revelatory Body, writes that there are two types of cognitive dissonance that faithful Christians must contend with in order to live out our days on this earth. First, states Dr. Johnson, “is the massive societal denial of aging, which is in effect a denial of death.” The second “is caused by the tension between the bodily experience of diminishment – the pull of mortality is ever more obvious – and the Christian hope for a “life-everlasting” in the form of a bodily resurrection.”
Our culture is centered on youth because youth is equated with a better life. To be young means that death seems far away. The body seems strong and vital, beautiful and optimistic. So many who find the years slipping by quickly seek to recapture youth through an artificial appearance and a lifestyle of denial.
I myself, at the mere age of 64 find this to be an exciting time. I have no desire to be young. I am aware that my time in this phase of the journey is limited and I am thankful for that. I am closer to being with my Lord unhampered by this fallen world. What a reason to rejoice. I also know that many of the characters of the Scripture did not even begin their finest work for the Lord until they reached this age.
Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness. (Prov. 16:31 NIV)
For this path I am grateful. For this chance, I glory in my Lord.