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Growing Older and Stronger (a Christian Perspective)

MsDora, former teacher and counselor, is fascinated by the prospect of joyful aging. She explores and shares habits of happy seniors.

Growing older and stronger

Growing older and stronger

As we age, birthdays seem to come faster. They bring with them the reality of bodies that grow older and weaker. Vision dims, hearing diminishes and limbs require longer notice when we want them to move. Decline in our bodies is inevitable, but we possess an inner strength which has the potential to help maintain our joy.

In 2021, my birthday will fall on Easter Sunday for the third time. This episode will be one of the highlights of my bonus (after seventy) years, and it needs a tag line on which to hang its significance. “Older and Stronger” is my final selection, and it will be my mantra for the rest of my life. It is adapted from the truth in 2 Corinthians 4:16 ERV: “Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day.”

How We Measure Inner Strength

We measure physical weakness by the decline in our bodies. We, measure the strength of “our spirit inside us” by the progress in four main areas of our lives: purpose (our reason for living) and the three great lasting qualities named in I Corinthians 13:13: faith (an abiding trust in God), hope (our longing for something good to happen) and love (a genuine unselfish regard for others).

Following is a brief look at how we grow stronger in these aspects of our lives.

Stronger in Purpose

At about age eight, it dawned on me that folks might consider my grandmother illiterate. She never carried a Bible or hymnal to church, although she sang most of the songs, and recited much of the scripture reading.

“Mamma, don’t you care if people think that you can’t read?” It mattered to me.

“It doesn’t matter” she stated with confidence. “Some members really can’t read, and when they see me singing without a book, they might try to do the same.”

My grandmother’s eyesight had been deteriorating, and by the time we had this conversation, she could read only large billboards. Instead of grieving at what she had lost, she chose to influence others with what she still had—strength of mind to recall song lyrics and scriptures, strength of spirit to worship with confidence despite her poor vision, strength of character to remain true to her purpose rather than waste time proving that she could read.

Our purpose is determined by our present gifts and abilities. The skills we still have are for use. No matter our method—story-telling, encouragement, singing, mentoring, gardening, praying­—our contribution counts. We live to give back some of what we’ve been given, in gratitude to our Life-Giver, for the enrichment of others and for our own legacy. By using our gifts consistently, we build strength into our purpose.

The purpose of life is ... to be useful.

The purpose of life is ... to be useful.

Stronger in Faith

Recalling the ups and downs of our more active lives, it is wise to conclude in our later years, that if we would place implicit faith in anyone, there’s no one more deserving than God.

In our early years, faith was introduced to us as the expectation that He would answer our prayers. We asked, we believed, we expected and when the answer came, we applauded our faith.

In tougher times, we asked, believed and expected, but there were obstacles between us and the answer. We learned patience, humility and selflessness before the answer came. Meanwhile, our faith had struggled, expanded and strengthened.

Now in our more mature years, we realize that asking, believing and expecting do not always guarantee the outcome we requested. We learn to grow our faith by trusting in God, no matter how different His answer is from our expectations. We understand from the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, that when the promise does not seem to materialize, it is because “God planned something better for us” (Verse 40), which we may receive during or beyond our present lives.

With that assurance, we encourage each other by sharing our stories of how faith has kept us brave and sane. In the process, we help each other to grow stronger in faith.

Stronger in Hope

"'Hope' is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops—at all."

Emily Dickinson, a nineteenth century American poet, compares hope to a bird which lives inside the human spirit and sings an endless tune. It cheers listeners in all types of situations. The severest storm may threaten the bird, but the song does not stop. Yet, for its everlasting solace, the bird seeks no reward.

Hope costs us nothing extra. It takes the same amount of energy to worry about the worst as it does to hope for the best, according to Gail Tsukiyama, Joel Osteen and other motivators. A similar flex of the muscle can turn our gaze upward to look at the sky, or downward to look at the soil.

By choosing to remain positive, we ward off the sense of helplessness and uselessness. We survive the pitfalls of depression and despair. When regrets of past misdeeds surface, we rejoice at the mistakes we didn’t make and the lessons we learned from the ones we made. Besides, our focus is forward. We haven’t lived this long to let our past dim the view of our future. Our hope for something and some place better is at its strongest in our old age.

Our hope for something and some place better is at its strongest in our old age.

Our hope for something and some place better is at its strongest in our old age.

Stronger in Love

The greatest of all graces is love—"unselfish love for others growing out of God’s love for us” states the Amplified Bible. We have experienced a divine love that nurtured us through the difficult times, that sent human shoulders for us to lean on when we thought we would crumble. Now, it’s our turn to share that love.

In many of us, spirituality increased with age, and the more passionately we love God, the more we desire fellowship with others. The research shows that without close relationships, we are three times more susceptible to early death, and ten times more likely to suffer emotional or mental disorder. On the other hand, strong love keeps us connected and healthier.

We are learning to model humaneness in all its form to everyone, including the rude, the filthy and the ungrateful. We understand better now, that it is God’s love that we are dispensing to those who love us, and to those who don’t. Having access to His unfathomable love, we can afford to love more and love stronger!

Conclusion

As we grow older and stronger—in purpose, faith, hope and love—the glow from our spirits inside us puts our blemished bodies in the shadows. We become the most lovable older persons some folks like to be around. We forgive when we are offended, we sing when they expect us to worry. They observe our joy, peace and courage despite our health, financial or social challenges. We manifest strength in the areas of life that matter most.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Dora Weithers

Comments

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 01, 2021:

Thanks, Linda. After a while, inner strength is the only strength we have to live on. I appreciate you.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 31, 2021:

Inner strength is very important. Happy birthday in advance, Dora.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 30, 2021:

Chitrangada, thanks for your kind words and your continual support. An Easter birthday is special and I accept it as a divine favor.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 30, 2021:

Thank you, Brenda. Easter blessings to you as well. I appreciate your support.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on March 30, 2021:

Ms Dora,

This ia a terrific article.

The section on Hope is awesome.

I'm wishing you an early "Happy Birthday!

May this Easter bring you much happiness & joy.

May God send you a special blessing on your special day!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on March 30, 2021:

Beautiful and inspirational writing. We are all aging, and therefore, I believe, everyone can relate to your article. Older and stronger is an appropriate phrase, and it suits your personality. I wish you lots of inner happiness and peace.

I enjoyed reading about your grandmother.

Thank you for sharing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 30, 2021:

Drew, I'm happy that these messages touched you. More your faith, hope and love increase, going forward.

Drew Agravante from Philippines, Currently in Qatar on March 30, 2021:

I don't know why, but it really resonated with me. Faith, Hope, and Love which God had given us. Seemingly simple words, but the meaning runs to the bones. Thanks for sharing this amazing article.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 30, 2021:

Thanks Devika. My aim is to help us see the good in, and to appreciate aging.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 30, 2021:

Thank you, Denise. I appreciate your good wishes and your support.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 30, 2021:

MsDora growing older just show changes and makes us feel that but it lies in our strengths to take care of ourselves. You shared a lot to make us feel better growing older.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on March 29, 2021:

You are inspiring. I wish you a lovely blessed birthday and at least 70 more. I am encouraged with purpose, faith, hope and love.

Blessings,

Denise

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 29, 2021:

Mary, thanks for sharing. Yours is a great attitude to imitate. I see your joy.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 29, 2021:

Thanks, Peggy. Happy Ester to you, too. Yes, I think that my grandmother was the single most influential person in my life. I'm grateful.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 29, 2021:

Thanks, Bill. Insisting on doing something purposeful, while I still can.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on March 29, 2021:

You are right about this. I enjoy so many friends of all ages and races. It enriches my life. i no longer dwell on the past but the future I want and make real in my present.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 29, 2021:

This article of yours may be my favorite one yet. Your grandmother was a wise woman and a terrific role model for you and others as she aged. Happy birthday, Dora, and Happy Easter!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 29, 2021:

A beautiful message of hope and guidance and direction. Well done, my friend.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 29, 2021:

Thanks, Ann. I count it a compliment to be compared to my grandmother. You've also given me some encouragement.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 29, 2021:

Liz, thanks for your kind words. I'd better find some benefits of age, because I'm there now. When you get there, hope you'll find that its a good place to be.

Ann Carr from SW England on March 29, 2021:

I love the idea of the bird inside that doesn't stop singing - for me it would be the blackbird, strong in winter.

This is an excellent article, Dora, full of inspiration - you've already made a huge difference to those of us who have read this. Your grandmother was a gem and so wise. I feel that you have inherited that wisdom.

You have given me extra strength today, Dora, for which I thank you.

Ann

Liz Westwood from UK on March 28, 2021:

Thank you for an inspiring and encouraging article. I always enjoy reading your writing. You make some very helpful points. I am currently reading a book on Proverbs and wisdom. Your comments resonate a lot with what I have read. You highlight the benefits of age. I think of the many older friends that I have and I am thankful for. As I head up there myself, your article gives cause for optimism.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 28, 2021:

Thank you, Misbah. Yes, my grandmother was very wise and her attitude of contentment rubbed off on me. I want to serve like she did, for as long as I am able.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 28, 2021:

Thank you too Audrey. You're right about the pandemic being a test of faith. I pray that we can hold out.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 28, 2021:

Thank you, Flourish. Glad that you like the two little stories about purpose and hope. I think they came in handy as effective illustrations.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on March 28, 2021:

Dora, this is a beautiful piece of writing carrying so many beautiful messages.

I loved the story you shared about your grandmother, so wise,

Thanks for sharing

Blessings :)

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 28, 2021:

Thank you, Pamela. We have to love the age that we are, and we do need to grow our inner strength as we age.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on March 28, 2021:

Purpose, faith, hope, and love are four areas that take center stage as I grow older. Your inspiring words are motivating. This last year has been a test on our level of faith. Love is the only thing that endures.

Thank you, Dora

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 28, 2021:

Dora, I especially enjoyed the tale about your grandmother as well as Emily Dickinson. An early Happy Birthday to you!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

I like the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, and I certainly like your article about aging. I agree that we grow older and stronger with age with regards to purpose, faith, hope and love. This is a lovely article, Ms. Dora. I couldn't agree with you more.

Have a wonderful Happy Birthday Dora!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 28, 2021:

Thanks Manitata, we cherish so many similar thoughts, but you express yours so beautifully. Yes, looking forward to this Easter.

manatita44 from london on March 28, 2021:

Dee, that is a very, very beautiful and inspirational piece and quite timely for us old folks. Haha. Guru ji encouraged us so much! To him, old age is a new page and we still have the Grace to transcend or move in a different direction, still walking towards the Light.

I wrote a piece with a given title called Maturity and Purpose. I started with immaturity, showing that we grow from weakness to strengths, from imperfections to perfection and so my piece starts with infancy and finishes with the goal in sight. I will publish it tomorrow, inshal'lah.

Hope is a big thing for this coming Atonement. I wrote a piece on this too. Actually, I think I gave it to you. Anyway, Easter is just around the corner and we'll hear more soon. Higher blessings.

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