The Aging Process: Tips for Mindset and Planning: Part I
Those beginning the aging process should bring their faith into the picture on all fronts. In fact, everything in your life should be embarked upon with faith — don’t be faithless in anything. Conversely, always see every feature of your life as an opportunity to engage vision, hope, and expectation from the One who has known your whole life, has prompted all good things, and intends so much more good and glory (Romans 8:29-30).
Aging Tip: Countering Wrong Messages
Two major sources of wrong messages about the aging process include the world and your own body.
The world has developed systems of thought to accommodate people’s experience, so people come to not only accept but to anticipate decline and decay:
- “Things run downhill, things fall apart and deteriorate, it’s the law of Entropy.”
- “Bad things happen to me.”
- “There are not enough resources, so you have to grab all you can.”
- “Once you mess up and close a door, there’s no more opportunity.”
But the message of faith is contrary. The believer contradicts circumstances and the expectations of the world based on decline and scarcity. Read Hebrews 11-12:2 and you will see a pattern of believers seeing things quite differently than the world or circumstances would demand they see.
There is no lack of resources in God’s economy. God does not lack for new and unforeseen opportunity. There is no scarcity in heaven — you need to look at life that way and actively reject the fears that the world and circumstances foist upon you.
Those fears become expectations and actually create the deterioration that they portend. A small but concrete example: actively reject the message behind those birthday cards that speak negative things about age and use phrases like “over the hill.” They are putting a downer on the celebration of a new stature — your newly attained age status. The Bible views long life and age as having more significance, wisdom, and status.
Your Own Body
Remember that you, your body, and your mind were not designed to deteriorate and die. As a believer you have eternal life — let that truth and hope be your new expectation and anticipation.
The most intimidating messages come from your own body. Your body has receptors that are intended to inform you that something is sharp or hurting you, that you’re hungry, that you’ve eaten something bad, that you need to stretch, or yawn, etc.
But along with useful data, aches and pains can prompt emotional messages. You may indeed be experiencing them more often, but the message of decline, the emotional downturn and faith-deadening messages, the directing of your anticipation, the expectation of decline and the self-fulfillment should be combatted with faith.
Journaling through the Aging Process
A simple way of becoming mindful of what your body aches and pains are messaging to you is to keep a journal. It doesn’t have to be long (unless you want it to be) — just short notes.
Every time you feel an ache or pain, an inflexibility, a stiffness, write down three things:
- What did you feel physically?
- What was your emotional reaction? This should make you mindful of a good deal of erroneous messages and the trajectories they are creating — the self-fulfilling expectations.
For example: “Oh, that hurts, can’t quite use that the way I used to. Oh well, it doesn’t have to last too much longer,” or “It will probably keep getting worse, I guess that’s just the way it goes. Life is just kinda crummy,” or “Well, my dad only lived a few years longer than my age now, haven’t got long to go anyway,” or “Poor me, just have to grin and bear it; expect continual decline from here on until I peter out.”
You will become mindful of these things and you may begin to notice a pattern. I am guessing you will hear these especially in the morning when you are supposed to be arising with hopeful expectation. Whatever your self-talk is in response, being mindful of them can be greatly aided by journaling.
- “Is that the message I want to go forward in hopeful expectation? Is that consistent with my faith in the goodness of God and my experience of Him in my life?”
Jot down the opposite of those erroneous messages in your journal, verses like Romans 8:11, Isaiah 40:29-31, Psalm 1:3, 27:14, 31:24, 92:12-14, and any other verses that focus your eyes on the promises of a vibrant future:
Romans 8:11 says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
In the second article of this series, we will look at the aging process and planning for the future.
Christian Counseling for the Aging Process
Perhaps you would benefit from counseling to further validate and instill these notions, and displace erroneous messages you have received. If so, please contact our office to arrange an appointment.