Someone once told me that the best years of life happen after 50. Since I was in my early 40’s, I rejected the idea completely. It rang in my heart as unrealistic and Pollyanna-ish.
Now that I am approaching my 71st birthday, I see the truth and beauty packed in that statement. There is a wrestling in life for financial stability, achievement, and contribution that is natural before age 50. Even if every life goal is unmet at that time, an appreciation of the winding journey bubbles up—especially if one has taken on a lifestyle of gratitude. The recognition that, although you have worked hard, everything you have came to you through the lovingkindness of God and others. This outlook genuinely increases joy and enjoyment in the aging process. Gratitude makes aging—everything sweeter!
Maturing brings up the word legacy. What we leave the next generation takes on deeper meaning, especially for your family but also for the Body of Christ. Will Jesus be seen in the fingerprints and footsteps that I leave behind?
I recently read with great curiosity the 4-5 slide post circulating on Instagram written and sent to baby boomers and older from the younger generation—millennials and younger. It outlined a number of grievances and failures against our generations and especially those in the Church. I thought about it for days. And I had three thoughts as I pondered.
1. A few of the accusations leveled against us were that we are not fully informed on political and cultural issues, we reject sinners as much as their sins, we speak about the love of God but don’t show it, we do not embrace the influence of history and ramifications in a post-modern world. My reaction was that these are the very things I had accused my parent’s generation in my youth. In truth, every generation can be accused of these things and more.
2. My second thought was the pointing finger against us came off as entitled and ungrateful. I did see myself in the the reflection of that pride though.
3. And my third thought was that I had made similar accusations in my youth—was entitled and ungrateful. In reality, these expressions of selfishness pop up in every season of life—not just youth. If an older representative would have reached out to me in love when I had the world figured out to dialogue and close the gap, my attitude toward previous generations would have softened.
One of the reasons that life after 50, 60, and forward is better is because life softens you—at least circumstances offer the choice to soften. Betrayals and setbacks cause a desire to mend fences and not tear them down. A longing for unity and a hatred for division arises. A willingness to become that doormat or bridge to make it happen emerges. A realization grips your heart that viewpoints will differ, but there is something more precious that binds us. We have nothing to gain but the love of Jesus shed abroad in the promise of mending.
There is no need to defend my generation and others. I am guilty of many failures. Yes, we have not connected toward the eternal and the things that matter forever.
Will you please forgive us?
There is a seed of truth in every accusation. My hope going forward comes from the book of Micah 4:6 that God will turn the hearts of the children to the fathers and the hearts of the fathers to the children. When the generations love each other truly and forgive fully, it will show an example to the world that Jesus is real and that he is with us. Jesus is near and able to heal all divisions.