Sometimes God ushers us into new life phases with quiet, seamless transitions. Sometimes He welcomes us into a new life phase with a loud, clanging gong and plate of humble pie. I must admit I could have used a set of earplugs and a scoop of ice cream a few weeks ago.
It started with an innocent, even understandable, mistake. I was visiting a friend in the hospital. Her one month old baby had experienced a high fever and they had to stay there for tests and observation. I was sitting in a rocking chair, holding the little patient, when the nurse entered the room. Following the routine questions for the mother and assessing any needs, he turned to me and said, “This must be grandma!” My friend politely corrected him and he scurried out of the room, apparently oblivious to the potential emotional damage he may have caused. My sweet friend attempted to sooth my feelings by reminding me that she was young enough to be my daughter, not that I was old enough to be her mother. I was not entirely offended at his remark. She was indeed a very young mother who looked much younger than her years even. My mom was a grandmother before she was fifty, and my son not much younger than my friend, so it was not an unthinkable possibility. We laughed it off, but my self perception had started to shift.
Only three days later my concept of where I was in life would be forever changed. It began as a quick trip to the grocery store. I was simply purchasing two gift bags for an upcoming baby shower. The kind, elderly, cashier commented, “someone’s going to a baby shower.” “Yes” I replied. “When is the baby due?” she asked. To which I replied, “She’s already born.” “oh”, she said, “you must be grandma!” Yep, there it was again…this time with nothing more than two gift bags and my face as evidence a stranger concluded I was a grandmother! Welcome to my new phase in life!
Seems like only yesterday, I was often mistaken for being younger than my age. My genetically inherited cherub cheeks afforded me a youthful appearance that defied my actual years. Oddly enough I often tried to look older during this first phase in life. I barely noticed my transition to the second phase in life. Somewhere between my mid to late thirties I went from hearing, “Seriously, you can’t be that old!” to “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you’re that young!” in response to the revelation of my age. I convinced myself this change of perception was due to the fact that my kids were older. Today I find myself humbled by the realization that I am getting older. I mean, it’s not like I didn’t already know this, but the recent comments are a jarring introduction to this new phase in life.
In phase three I find things continuing to change. Some of which I can control, most of which I will only experience. The possibilities ahead of me are as large and unfathomable as they were in my youth, but they are decidedly different. There is a new appreciation for the idea of life as a journey. There may be different speeds of travel, various travel companions, numerous stops along the way, but we tend to forget there will be a destination. This, I have found, makes a difference. My wrinkles, age spots, sags, bags, aches, and constantly morphing body shape are just a blurr through the window of my journey in life. Though I currently live here and work hard to make the most of my visit, my “citizenship is in heaven” and someday Christ will “transform the body of my humble state into conformity with the body of His glory..” Phil 3:20&21.
I must admit I like this new phase of life…now that I am no longer in denial. I like being the older person who has experienced life and yet still has more experiences to enjoy. I like living my life with a clearer understanding of the futility of the flesh and the hope of Christ.
….Of course, I will also be purchasing some of that “age defying” cream and buying better make up!