The author of Being Mortal, Atul Gawande, identified the three plagues of old age as #1 Loneliness, #2 Dependency, and #3 Boredom. Much could be done to alleviate those three plagues! See if you agree with me.
Consider Plague #3—BOREDOM
It is very pleasant to be entertained—to attend a concert, watch a live play, or see an especially good movie. Even so, wouldn’t a steady diet of entertainment be tedious indeed? When I visit nursing homes, the residents are usually lying in bed with a TV blasting. I would be bored to tears.
I am even more saddened by the capable folks I meet who believe the lies of ageism—you are done, irrelevant, past your prime, out of date, or over the hill. What is most distressing is how self-disparaging are most seniors! Listen. They often mock themselves and the signs of aging. Perhaps you are doing it?! God declares long life to be a blessing (Proverbs 3:16), but it is received as a curse! Sadly, older people who embrace ageism experience shrinking worlds and develop negative outlooks. Conversation is dominated by health concerns or the bad news they watch on television. I believe this plague of boredom is real but avoidable. What do you think?
What if “retirement” were whole-heartedly embraced as an opportunity to give back to our communities, invest in the next generation, and minister to those in need? Imagine what would happen in our churches, non-profits, and schools if there were an excess of willing volunteers to carry forward the love and truth of Jesus Christ?!
IF YOU ARE HERE, YOU HAVE A PURPOSE. Those who have responded to God’s call upon their lives are seldom bored—whatever their age, responsibilities, or the state of their health. Joni Erickson Tada is an example. She has, of course, experienced grief and struggle during her fifty years in a wheel chair. Joni lost her mobility but not her purpose. She is an artist, a writer, a speaker, and an advocate for the disabled! This delightful woman is a fruitful vine in God’s vineyard.
SERVING IS GROWTH PRODUCING AND ULTIMATELY SATISFYING. When you consider how to connect with your community and serve, you may open a whole new chapter of purpose. As you endeavor to meet the needs of others, you may stumble upon a gift that gives you great joy when exercised. Some call it “the sweet spot.” If you have not already done so, develop that talent. Perhaps former skills will find new applications, or old dreams will finally be realized. You may write books in one season of life and write to prisoners in another. Keep learning and growing. Take a class, read books, attend webinars, consult experts, join a writers’ group. Ask God how you are to serve him in this season.
WHATEVER THE STATE OF OUR HEALTH, WE CAN PRAY. God so treasures the prayers of his people that he keeps them in golden bowls like incense (Rev.8:3). He searches the whole earth for a man or woman to stand in the gap and pray (Ezekiel 22:30). Are you that man or woman? Have you been called for such a time as this (Esther 4:14)? There are many beautiful studies on prayer, powerful scriptures, and illuminating books. We are considered to be members of his royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). Is God calling you into this privileged service? It is never too late to listen, to pray, to love.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28
I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me. Psalm 57:2
The three plagues of old age may be #1 Loneliness, #2 Dependency, and #3 Boredom. However, I believe we can counteract those three plagues by—re-discovering our purpose, exercising our choices now to minimize our dependency later, and lessening our loneliness by working at connecting with others even across generational boundaries.