I’m assuming you’re getting older. We all do. So let’s process it a little.
The golden years are officially defined as the years of retirement. Since Tom and I will be retiring from over 42 years of pastoring Father’s House late this year, I’m thinking a lot about the future.
Like many, we’ll never fully retire. We plan to keep living in our house and nurturing our careers of writing, blogging, producing courses, and pastoring people we encounter at Starbucks. It’s in our blood.
For people like us, the golden years are after the kids leave home and produce grandchildren. Age isn’t so much a factor.
Empty nesting can be sudden or slow. With six children, it’s been a drawn out process for me.
They leave and come back, and finally leave again. I’ve felt like my house has been a revolving door for the last 15 years.
It’s as the empty nest actually becomes empty that we realize we’re transitioning into the golden years.
The thinking and living part
We finally have room to think about what we’ve learned in life and how we want to wrap it up.
For me, it’s about how I want to live what I’ve learned over 65 years and what I’ve yet to learn.
I muse over what the most important things are that I want my family to know… about Jesus, faith, and how to “do” relationships well.
I want to model, teach, and influence them about these things.
Heaven is more on my mind than when I was young. So, of course, I want those I love to be there too.
The dying part
And yes, the dying part too. I want to die well. In fact, I want to model how to die well for my kids and grandkids.
When my mom was on her way to the hospital for the last time, my sister, Diane, asked her if she was afraid to die.
Mom clearly replied, “No, but I’m not looking forward to the process. I know I will be with Jesus, so that will be great.”
Since I don’t know the due date for the dying part yet, I want to live well. Then when the dying part comes, I hope to go through the process as graciously as possible, holding tight to Jesus and focusing on the joy set before me.
So… what makes the “Golden Years” golden?
How do you live your golden years with purpose? How do you model, teach, communicate, and be Jesus with skin on to the people in your life? How do you keep growing?
I don’t have all the answers, but I do have 4 tips to help us live our latter years with purpose and grace:
1. Take an inventory of your attitudes and actions. See what areas of your inner life need growth. Then do something about it—take a course, get some mentoring or counseling, read some books that address your soul care.
For goodness sakes, you don’t want to grow old and die and have people remember you as crabby. Or as someone who couldn’t forgive or was always offended.
2. Connect with people. Don’t become a recluse. God created you for community. So work on your relationships with your family and friends, hang out on Facebook, and Skype with those who live far away.
Travel. Play cards with your grandkids. Join a community art class. Go to concerts with old high school friends. Chat with your neighbor on the front porch.
3. Do for others. God’s command to serve others doesn’t come with an expiration date. Volunteer for your favorite charity. Work with the homeless. Babysit your grandkids. Invite your neighbor over for tea and cookies. My folks went on short-term mission trips until they were close to 80 years old.
4. Laugh a lot. A merry heart is a medicine. Joy and laughter release healing chemicals into your body. Hold the babies. Giggle with the toddlers. Laugh at YouTube videos with the teens.
As my mom’s dementia grew, she’d often interrupt a discussion we were having by asking, “Have we had this conversation before?”
“Well, let’s have it again. It’s so interesting.”
And then we’d both laugh.
I hope I laugh as much as my mom did as she aged.
This week, evaluate how you want to live your golden years with purpose.
Then put some type of action plan into motion to actually be the person you want to be during the last great season of your life.