(“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.” – Eleanor Roosevelt)
Can I get an “Amen?”
For those of us who’ve reached the fifth decade and beyond, Eleanor’s words give us a worthy goal: to become lovely masterpieces as we age.
Obviously she’s not talking about the artistry of a plastic surgeon’s facelifts and tummy tucks. I don’t think such procedures were even being performed in her generation. Besides, the most successful procedures provide only temporary changes. I’ve never seen a ninety-year old who looks twenty-one, have you?
But if you Google the phrase, “aging gracefully,” you’ll find a long list of articles about stalling the aging process—on the outside. Eat right, exercise, get seven to eight hours of sleep each night, etc. Where are the essays about becoming more lovely in heart and spirit as the decades pass?
No doubt Eleanor was referring to those who have achieved this kind of beauty–those gracious elders who listen, encourage, and speak positively. And I dare say, such folks are most often Christians who have grown in faith and spiritual maturity over the years.
Their eyes twinkle from the Light within. And those radiant lines that fan out from the corners? Son-beams.
In fact, His name is often on their lips, because their thoughts turn to him so consistently. Jesus is an intimate Friend.
In addition, the joy of the Lord is their strength—perhaps not in body, but in soul. It shows in a delightful sense of humor and frequent smiles. Joy is also expressed in continual gratitude and praise.
These dear ones learned self-discipline along the way. Those ugly traits of bitterness, complaining and negativity are nowhere in sight. And never do you have to endure a long soliloquy that begins, “Back when I was young…”, that goes on about how much better or tougher life was decades ago.
Wise elders realize the value of influence, and the power of positive memories for the younger generations. They know that integrity and faith are best taught through example—examples that live on long after the elders graduated to heaven.
And as such saints delight in God and minister to others, they discover contentment—even as aches, pains, and deficiencies overtake their bodies.
They are true masterpieces, according to the definition: outstanding, superlative, ingenious works of art.
Masterpieces don’t just happen; they are the result of: 1) informed skill, 2) extended time, and 3) concentrated effort.
Similarly, beautiful seniors are the result of: 1) living by Biblical principles, 2) trusting in God day after day, and 3) practicing his presence moment by moment.
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Father, thank you for taking up your paintbrushes and paints to create a pure and beautiful spirit within me (Psalm 51:10). But it’s also true I must be a willing and active participant. May I not lose heart and invite your Spirit to refresh me every day. May I be mindful that “what is seen [like outward beauty] is temporary, but what is unseen [a pure heart] is eternal (2 Corinthians 5:16-18). May I be focused on the latter.
(Photo credit: www.groups.yahoo.com.)