Friday, August 26, 2011

The best is yet to come!

As far as I'm concerned, I have pretty much always approached life with the sense that the best was yet to come. I still believe that. With that mindset, at the moment I'm really caught up in launching a brand new ministry in our church, a ministry designed for those 55+.

To that end, I've been reading lots of books that deal with the subject of life in the "2nd half." If you haven't figured it out yet, you can toss about everything you have ever known about aging out the window. We are in a new space, with increased life expectancy, a much longer time to need resources, and options that never existed before. Instead of entering into the "golden years of retirement," we find folks at that stage of life launching entirely new careers, some finding themselves more productive than ever. At the very least, people are thinking fresh, new thoughts, considering options that have lain dormant for years.

As I have been pouring over material having to do with this subject, I came across the work of G. Stanley Hall, the gentleman who coined the term "adolescence," and in fact helped our society to understand that stage in life in the early 20th century. But what most don't know about him is that he did the same thing with the 55+ years, a period of life he called "senescence." Disagreeing with the common wisdom about those growing older, namely that they had little to do but wait comfortably for their demise, he stated something that rang so very true to me. This quote is from his book, "Senescence," published in 1922. He's speaking about how differently "older" people (chose your own age here) feel about the way they see life versus the way younger people assume they feel:

"How little there is in common between what we feel about it and the way we find it regarded by our juniors; and how hard it is to conform to their expectations of us! They think we have glided into a peaceful harbor and have only to cast anchor and be at rest. We feel that we have made landfall on a new continent where we must not only disembark but explore and make new departures and institutions and give a better interpretation to human life. Instead of descending toward a deep, dark valley we stand, in fact, before a delectable mountain, from the summit of which, if we can only reach it, we can view the world in a clearer light and in truer perspective."

Man, do I resonate with that! That is exactly where I am in my life, and in relationship to this new ministry. I see a whole new world out there filled with folks plus or minus my age who desire a whole lot more out of their lives. They just don't know what that might be. What a spot to be in - I get to help them understand not only what will bring them joy now, but forever! And along the way, I get to encourage them to develop all those things in their lives that have been lying dormant for years.

To that end, I'm reminded of G.B. Shaw's words, written when he was 65:
"You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"

I firmly believe the best is yet to come, and I couldn't be more excited to see what God has in store!


Sharon Bernash Smith said...

Love that pumped for what "The best is yet to come," will look like at Crossroads. Thought: I find myself coming against my own prejudices about aging. Hmm!

Michelle said...

For the first time in my life, I wish I was older to travel this road and this new ministry with you! It sounds like it will be simply delicious. I hope all involved will find new meaning in the 2nd phase of life.