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It’s interesting that you put the word “happy” before the word “birthday.” Of course, if you are a child, annual celebrations are a lot of fun. Presents, cake, candles, and singing old-fashioned songs. Also, if you’re a teenager or young adult, your day might include a party or a big gift you’ve been waiting for.
But what about the rest of us? What is it about birthdays that makes you so happy as an adult?
Let’s start by blushing reality. Ready? You are really old. I’ve seen bumper stickers. Birthdays happen. And back to the “happiness” part. So let’s start from the beginning. Just being alive to celebrate my birthday is actually a blessing. Pure and simple. right?
However, the reality of growing older is not fun. Or, more often than not, it’s not fun.
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Take my father. He was the person I witnessed growing old most closely in my life. For example, I remember family gatherings where conversations were lively and loud. There’s something about cousins getting together.
Almost everyone was connected. Not my father. He was trying his best to smile so as not to seem judgmental or disapproving, but while his mother always helped him, I didn’t want him to sit in the back and look around. I remember looking around and not making a sound. He didn’t get involved because most of the chatter was about the latest software, movies, hit songs, YouTube downloads, headlines his news, videos his games. Something he knew little about.
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Looking back, I also wondered if he didn’t remember some of his grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s names. So, to avoid the embarrassment of calling someone by the wrong name, he chose not to speak.
One quiet summer afternoon, I found him sitting alone in a chair in the corner of his study. This room was his cave and this place was his favorite. His sacred place. He read the Bible and books there, books he read regularly. But this time there was nothing in his lap. As his eyesight deteriorated, reading became a forgotten pastime. I knocked softly and asked permission to come inside. He smiled and nodded.
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I knelt down next to him so I could see him and asked how he was doing. “It’s okay,” was his expected response, accompanied by a gentle nod. I took his hand and asked him how he was feeling. Although my question was directed towards his physical and medical condition. . . Something similar to Parkinson’s disease. . . He didn’t take it like I asked.
His eyes focused on mine like lasers. have been waiting.
“I feel useless,” he said at last.
I had a lump in my throat. A corner of tears followed. Here was a man who left behind many achievements. His family loved him. People all over the world respected him. His business and service colleagues held him in the highest esteem.
But in his 80s, he felt there was nothing left for him to do. And like many men, he felt powerless because his self-worth came from his accomplishments and accomplishments. He used to be very busy. Well, he had nothing to do.
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Today, I am not far from the age of my father in the story you just read. As a young person, I could never have imagined feeling “useless.” far cry. But now I understand. What am I doing instead? To be honest, I’m still working on the answer, but here are some thoughts that might help. . . Or someone older you know.
1. Start your day by reading the Bible and praying.
This may seem unfair. Does asking for help solving the challenges of aging start out so mundane? It might be like asking for help when your car breaks down and you get a theologian instead of a mechanic. not. Starting your day in a quiet environment focuses your mind. When you read thoughtful devotional books, the Word of God, and prayers, you evoke the presence of the Holy One. This is a very good idea.
I got this from one of my daughters. In fact, like marbles, people bump into each other everywhere. Most of the time they look away instead of making eye contact. What happens when you smile at a stranger? You know the answer, right? That is correct. They smile back. Talk about your perfect win/victory.
3. Be generous with your love.Send a note to everyone
On the 8th day, God created a text message. When you were young, could you ever have imagined that you could communicate with people near you or around the world in a matter of seconds from the palm of your hand? The amazing technology at your fingertips. . . That messenger, that video camera. . . Stay connected with people whenever you want. This is not originally a toy. It’s a tool. Use this.
4. Stay in close touch with young people
Some of these lowly creatures are family members. They think it’s okay for you to woo them. . . Because they act as if they can divulge information about you. stop. Look for someone young. Please talk to them. Ask good questions, then listen with your eyes. they will love this. you too.
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5. Be intentional about how you walk
This one is just as crazy as the one above, but next time you go out, pay attention to the way people walk. A while ago, I found myself repeatedly limping through a grocery store parking lot. I can’t lift my legs. I don’t walk with purpose. Literally tell yourself to round your shoulders. Look up, not down.
The older I get and the more my medicine cabinet fills up with actual medicine, the more I want to laugh.
My mother was a classy woman and was often called “classy.” I think one of her secrets was her stride. She told us a story about how her classmates made fun of “Grace’s Duck Walk.” She took this to heart and watched her step. Even at age 90, Grace was still an elegant woman with a beautiful step. Please be so.
6. Be more wine than whine.
Let’s go back to the marble metaphor. . . One of my wife, Nancy’s most respected pastors, requested that her parish be made more like a grapevine than a ball bearing. Instead of bouncing off and away from each other, they squish together. Community is what creates delicious wine, not noise and conflict.
7. The best medicine
My maternal grandfather lived long enough to celebrate his 90th “Happy Birthday”. Those who knew him in his youth experienced his fiery red hair and matching temperament. However, once he turned gray, his ways softened, making room for notable humor, especially at his own expense.
In 1922, a monthly magazine called Reader’s Digest was published in midtown Manhattan. My favorite feature was called “Laughter is the Best Medicine.”
Grandpa lived this. The older I get and the more my medicine cabinet fills up with actual medicine, the more I want to laugh. I try my best to keep it stocked with visuals like short animal videos (follow @buitengebieden on X) and clean comedians like Tim Hawkins.
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I want to be an uncle like this. centering. smile. Loving. Walking around. refreshing. Laughter.
Maybe there’s something here. If so, that’s great.
Click here to read more about Robert Wolgemuth