Age, Wisdom, and Beauty
I am at the time in life where I am now a grandma and approaching my mid-50s. These years cause me and other women to evaluate ourselves; to look at what we have done with our years as we are headed toward the sunset of life.
I will admit that I am a woman who struggles with aging. I have wrestled with heading toward 60 years old. I have resisted allowing my hair to become its (new) natural color, and when I look in the mirror I see a face that is no longer recognizable to me. In fact, I’m often shocked at the woman I see looking back at me in the mirror and I wonder, how did this happen? When did I become “an older woman”?
Our culture encourages women to never get old. We are deluged and bombarded daily with ads for wrinkle cream, hair color, hormone replacement therapy–all things designed to cause us to look at aging with fear and even disgust. We see the frozen faces of movie stars who have had so much Botox injected into them that they are unrecognizable. We are not encouraged to embrace getting older, and we are not encouraged to age gracefully. Instead, we are encouraged to avoid aging altogether.
Our culture does not value the elderly anymore. Those who were once looked to for wisdom and looked upon as a national treasure are now considered to be a bother. We warehouse them in facilities that meet their physical needs instead of inconveniencing ourselves to care for them because our busy schedules don’t allow for them. This generation has become so wise in its own eyes that they think they don’t need to hear or glean from those who have lived much more life than they have (Isaiah 3:5). Sadly, there is even a movement to euthanize the elderly because it costs too much to care for them.
God values the aged saint.
Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Proverbs 23:22 (ESV)
There is little specifically said to older women in Scripture. The most specific command to women is found in Titus 2:3-5:
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (ESV)
It is clear God has plans for the older woman. We are to embrace the later years of our lives and use them to raise up the next generation of Christian women. We are, as the Scriptures command, to teach what is good. This is a high honor! We have been entrusted with instructing younger women in how to conduct themselves in life and godliness. We are to teach them relational skills, and homemaking skills. We are to help them become future mentors of those who follow behind them in life. But I think we gloss over this passage too often. We read what God has commanded us to do, how He has commanded us to invest in others; and instantly create a plentiful list of excuses as to why we cannot do this. We have no time, we have no talent, we have our own children or grandchildren to care for, or worst of all, we conclude that we have “done our time” so someone else can take over now. Some, and not all, chase frivolous things that have no eternal value.
I don’t want to be one of those women. I don’t want to fear getting older, and I don’t want to live in denial of my age or my mortality. I truly want to be a woman who is well-used by God, who invests her time, energy, and her very life into others. I want to be a Titus 2 woman. All these “wants” have demanded a shift in my attention. I am shifting away from such a dedicated focus on what the world calls beautiful and pleasant to what the Bible calls beautiful and pleasant.
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns! Isaiah 52:7 (NLT)
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment such as braided hair or gold jewelry or fine clothes, but from the inner disposition of your heart, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4 (BSB)
May God help me in this endeavor.