If we receive God’s blessing of long life, we will age. How we age, however, seems to be surprisingly dependent upon us. Will we intentionally treasure the gift of life? Please observe the huge disparity between those who are positive about the second half of life and those who are not. This attitudinal difference is crucial to one’s outcome.
Negative folks seem to lack ownership; life happens to them. Some such folks are vastly amusing as they spin their tales of exasperating woes. Amusing or not, no one escapes trials and tribulations. Those that we would call positive in their approach typically exhibit what psychology calls an internal locus of control; they make conscious decisions about their lives. These are the intentional ones who seem to assess, recover, learn, and go forth whatever their age or condition.
Job, the best example, would not yield to the fault-finding negativity of his friends. In spite of losing his children, his wealth, his health and even the support of his wife—Job would not give up his faith in the goodness of God. The result?? God blessed Job more in the second half of his life than the first! His life could be described as . . . a faithful obedience, good stewardship, perseverance, determination, or a refusal to give up. I call it intentionality, and I am delighted to observe it among my contemporaries!
Intentionality . . . is not giving up but choosing a new sport when you encounter physical limitations. One man’s response to his new ceramic/titanium knee was to sell his and his wife’s mountain bikes and take up hiking. He was actually still able to bike but did not wish to risk the consequences of a spill. This purposeful couple pursues a regular schedule at the gym, but they find it is the outdoors that truly rejuvenates them. So, they hike.
At 75, another friend continues to bike but has opted for an E bike, an electric bike with a battery that provides some assistance. Swimming is another exercise option that can be pursued in spite of numerous limitations. I so enjoyed the freedom of movement and weightlessness in the pool during pregnancy. Today, I encounter folks with serious, limiting back issues that are freed up to exercise vigorously in the water.
Intentionality . . . is moving to a climate that allows you to pursue your sport of choice year-round. As we know, exercise is crucial, so Pueblo, CO was the destination of one golfing friend upon retirement. The summer months are a bit warm, but the golf season extends far beyond that of the Pacific Northwest. Another friend has settled in Steamboat Springs, CO where she skis in the winter and bikes or hikes in the warmer months.
Intentionality . . . is cultivating friends and community wherever you are, whatever your pursuit. I recently talked with a woman who has participated in library book clubs for decades. Beyond enjoying the ongoing intellectual stimulation of discussing both fiction and non-fiction books, she has developed lifelong friendships each place she has lived.
A white-haired gentleman at the celebratory dinner of Yellowstone’s 60 mile bike ride commented . . . he did not wish to miss out on life’s adventures because his friends couldn’t go along. So, he deliberately made new ones wherever he went. Across the table from him was a friend he had made on the same ride seven years ago. How cool is that?
Intentionality . . . is downsizing to an RV and living in the mountains during the summer and by the ocean in the winter. Early October, I met a woman in West Yellowstone who advocated this reportedly inexpensive, adventuresome lifestyle. In the summer, she was a store clerk and one of the “worker bees” in this tourist town. The cold was moving in, so she was looking forward to returning to the gulf coast of Texas. In the winter months, she and her husband host a park for recreational vehicles a bit north of Corpus Christi. We both agreed that being close to the ocean does something for one’s soul. The only drawback to this chosen, nomadic life was obtaining medical care. To solve this problem, they return to the same area and the same doctor every summer.
Intentionality . . . is building (or retrofitting) a home with your future health needs in mind. Neighbors in Boise, ID moved there from California with the express purpose of building a home able to accommodate a wheel chair. The husband had been diagnosed with a debilitating disease, so they designed their home to accommodate his interests and anticipated needs. How satisfying to visit them and see the benefits of their intentionality twenty years later. His garage, their backyard pathways of concrete, and his study all allow him independent pursuits. This farsighted couple now has caregivers come in twice a day to assist them, but they continue to enjoy the comforts of their own home because they were very deliberate in their house plans twenty years ago.
A recently retired cousin designed their new home with bathroom accessories to meet ADA requirements (Americans with Disabilities Act). Functionality is hidden within their home’s décor… the attractive toilet paper holder is also an assist/grab bar, and the lovely tile shower is level with the rest of the room… a deliberate, but beautiful design. They are able to accommodate an aging parent, a disabled guest, or their own limitations when the need occurs.
Intentionality . . . is expanding your household to fill empty bedrooms with the pursuit of art or accommodating those who have been defrauded and making them a part of your family.
Intentionality . . . has unlimited expression. What might it look like for you? Is God calling you to change sports or climate? Downsize and go mobile? Make new friends? Plan for future health needs in your home? To hang onto your faith in a sea of negativity, may I suggest you reread the story of Job? It has a very nice ending!
Job 42:12A NIV the Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. Job 42:17 Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, full life.
Job 42:12A MSG God blessed Job’s later life even more than his earlier life.
Job 42:12A NLT So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.
Phil. 4:13 I can do all things (even change and age) through Christ who strengthens me.