In this episode:
There could be a silver lining in growing older and turning silver. It could be a perspective change about how we think about challenges that are out of our control, or it might be the ability to laugh in the face of wrinkles and chin hairs. Either way, joy is where we look for it.
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I had always thought that women who flipped out when they turned those milestone years with zeros on the end were just a little caught up in vanity. I didn’t mind turning 30. I didn’t mind 40 either. Last year I turned 50. I didn’t like it as much.
I arrived at the "ripe old age" of 40 with only a strand or two of gray hair at most. Please let me live in blissful denial by calling those pre-gray hairs, if you will. When I first noticed the offending intruders, I was in the car. Have you noticed that a visor mirror in bright sunlight tells the truth more than the best of bathroom mirrors? It’s true.
By the way, it’s also perfect for plucking old lady chin hairs. It mortifies my husband, Phil, to no end when we pass other cars on the highway and I’m taking advantage of this benefit. Now I carry a tweezers, but he was appalled when I improvised and plucked my chin with the pliers end of a pocket-sized multi-function tool—a Swiss Army type of thing that I carried in my purse.
It took some coordination to maneuver the grips without knocking out a tooth or jamming the tip up my nose when we hit a pothole.
But I digress. I was talking about the silver hairs I’ve detected in the last few years. When I first noticed the gray, I was two-months-past desperately needing a touch-up on my highlights. I had the visor down (probably checking chin hairs) when some lighter strands among the inches of dishwater-colored hair roots caught the sunlight.
Some of them were even white. I tilted my head, rearranged a few hairs and then smoothed the top again. I wasn’t imagining the silvery whitish strands.
“You won’t believe this!” I said to Phil. “Keep your hands on the wheel, and don’t look now, but I think my hair is beginning to self-highlight. This is gonna save us heaps in salon bills.” (This could be useful if your salon is closed for a pandemic.)
He gave me that raised-eyebrow, whatever-you-say look husbands give when they wish their wives could act more normal.
I was beginning to see the silver lining in turning silver. But as the years have passed, it turns out Phil’s skepticism was accurate. It has cost us rather than saved on salon bills.
Our ability to get through challenges—whether it’s aging or other difficult circumstances—depends upon how we decide to handle them, not on the situation. I can always find some reason to complain. A mood swing can bring on a string of whining without good reason.
And yet there are other times when everything that can go wrong does go wrong, and I don't fall apart. Why? Because, I make a choice about my attitude. That choice about my attitude controls my outlook more than the circumstance ever could.
Sometimes I get a twisted sort of comfort in just wallowing. Like a toddler throwing a whiny fit, I admit I've found a ridiculous pleasure in being ornery or in having a blubbery cry once in a while. But I know I can't carry on like that for very long.
The longer we wallow, the more that becomes our natural way of thinking and the more unhappy we become. Chronic complaining isn't pretty or pleasant for anyone around us.
How does a person begin to change the focus from the circumstance to a more positive outlook? I process my thoughts in a similar way to how someone might process a trash to treasure makeover on a filthy vase purchased at a flea market.
Imagine browsing through a table of junky trinkets at a sale. You spot a vase and pick it up. You look it over, but you note the grime and dust covering it. You set it back down on the display table and dust off your hands. You look for something better on the table, but your eyes come back to the vase.
On a second look, you see a sparkle of something that tells you it might be pretty glass. You decide to purchase it, trusting that under the grime, there is be some beauty. Later, you wash away the filth and discover it isn't cheap glass; it's valuable crystal. In fact, it's a vintage collectible that will fetch a good price on resale. Now, you're glad you didn't pass up this prize.
Let's compare that vase to unpleasant experiences. When we examine our circumstances, we might see only the negative at first. We see the hurt and injustice. We aren't interested in the frustration that accompanies it.
We don't have the energy to deal with discouragement. So, we metaphorically dust off our hands and hope the situation will go away if we ignore it. However, like the vase, on a second look we may notice a sparkle of something positive and we ask God to reveal some hope under all the gritty stuff of life. When we fully surrender to his will, we can eventually see the character, maturity, and other qualities we have gained from the experience—even if we can't see right away.
It's important to note that our feelings about a dirty vase don't have any bearing on the value of it. The value is the same, clean or dirty. Feeling something doesn’t make it true. You may feel that God doesn’t love you, but that’s the opposite of the truth. Your feelings might tell you you’re worthless, but God’s word contradicts those feelings. When we start to depend on those kinds of feelings, it’s time to go back and see if those feelings line up with the truth, especially the truth in the Bible.
What’s your typical response when you think of aging? Does every gray hair or wrinkle make you cringe? The Bible says, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (Isaiah 46:4).
If that isn’t enough encouragement, would it help to know God sees gray hair as a positive achievement? “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life” (Proverbs 16:31).
Now that you’ve heard God’s truth, ask yourself these questions:
- What experiences have deepened my faith and helped me to trust God’s truth more?
- How can my own life experiences help me to be a positive influence on someone who is younger than me?
If you have enjoyed this episode, you’ll find the content in chapter 5 of my book, The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure.
I hope you come back again next week when I interview Jill Savage, the author of Empty Nest, Full Life: Discovering God's Best for Your Next as I continue to talk about how God repurposes us as we go through seasons of life.
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(Please note: books posted here on my blog are purely because I want to share them. Sometimes I receive free copies for review, and other times I purchase the books. Some I get from the library. Either way, any endorsement I offer here on the blog is simply because I want to talk about the book. ) *This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.
Michelle Rayburn is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure, as well as a small group Bible study to accompany the book. Learn more about these and her other books here. A sample chapter of the book and Bible study are available for free download.
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This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.