I read somewhere that the reason many people fail to embrace positive, constructive change in their lives is because they love the past more than the future. While this can affect anyone I would guess it is especially true for those of us who are fifty and above. It is easy to fall into this way of thinking for the simple reason that for us there is more past than future! But I’m convinced that to look at it this way is a major mistake.
While it might be true that the years we’ve lived on this planet are greater than the ones we have left, if we belong to Jesus we have a glorious future ahead of us. If it’s been a while since you’ve read them, spend some time with texts like Romans 8:18ff, Philippians 1:21ff, and 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 to remind yourself that “What no eye has seen, what no ear had heard, and what no human mind has conceived . . . God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). While this last verse is specifically referring to the glory of God’s reconciling work in Christ, it also applies in principle to what awaits us when our life on earth is over. Whether your 17 or 70, we should have enthusiasm for the future and the healthy changes that are a part of it.
Another factor influencing people over fifty is that we have quite a bit to remember and celebrate from our past. That’s as it should be and there’s every reason to do just that. However, there is a critical difference between celebrating the past and living in it. One is healthy and the other is not. We’ve all met people who, if the ‘70’s or ‘80’s ever return, they will be absolutely ready!
One of the troubles we encounter when we live in the past is that we develop the tendency to see things as we are rather than as they are. We give directions to turn “where the farmer’s market used to be” or to “head down the old highway.” Strictly speaking, while there may be nothing untrue about these statements, they’re probably not very helpful. (After all, if you need directions it means you probably haven’t lived in the area long enough to know such things). In the same way, positive change can be view through the lens of the challenge it represents to adopt a new normal rather than the benefits it will bring.
If this comes across as unduly hard on people my age, that’s not the intent. In fact, I’ve said all of the above because what people fifty and over have that makes them such a valuable resource is their wealth of experience. Decades in the school of life has given them perspective and wisdom that cannot be attained anywhere else. But what can potentially negate them sharing their experience with others is trapped in time and being unable to relate to the world around them.
Whoever said getting old wasn’t for sissies knew what they were talking about but no one is better equipped to deal with change then those who have been doing it all of their lives. Fall in love with the future because the best is yet to be and you have much to contribute.