I joke that I am old. It drives my middle child (who is 30) nuts. She says I want to look like I am fifty. I respond by saying I am 54, so what’s the big deal?
She hates that I don’t cover up my gray hair. I laugh and tell her it’s my glitter! My silver hairs were mostly earned because of her, and she knows it. And when I look at those streaks of silver, I am reminded of the lessons I have learned earning those stripes. Like military badges of honor, that is how I look at those graying hairs.
But the truth is that I am getting older and have arrived at that stage called middle age—and I wonder how did I get here? I can tell by some of my scars that it has been a rocky road at times. There are broken bones that didn’t heal well…stitches that left their marks…and there are eyes needing ever-increasing corrective lenses. My ears are not as good as they once were. All the aches and pains of life’s wear and tear…I feel them acutely. Predicting weather changes because of the pain in the joints or even headaches that come in advance of the storms are new skills that I would happily trade for a body that does not betray. And I think the reality of my visible evidence of aging is frightening for my daughter. She sees and understands the temporal lives we live. She knows that death is a very real part of life, and that makes her afraid.
Confronting our frailty is just one of the realities of life. We somehow float through decades of life, often unscathed. Then BAM. Age smacks you right between the eyes. But isn’t it funny that on the inside, I still feel like a kid. Young, running and swinging and jumping without a care. But that inward me is in conflict with the outward me. I think that is why I feel so betrayed by my body. To do all the silly things I did as a child without ever breaking ANYTHING…and now, walking down a hill slowly is a frightening exercise…will I fall? What’s going to break this time? I can tell you I do NOT like living in fear of breaking something. I don’t like living in fear of any kind at all. Fear robs me of strength and peace.
Yesterday, I had the special opportunity to visit with a dear friend I had not seen in over 10 years. In that time she became a mother to four little boys and I became a grandmother to 4, going on 5, grandchildren. As we caught up on our lives over the years since we last saw each other, it was interesting to realize what a place fear had held in each of our lives as we walked through some very dark periods.
The source of our fear was different, but how interesting that the solution to the fear was the same. During those times of overwhelming darkness, we found our solace in the word of God. She shared that with her second pregnancy (twins) and then with her fourth child, she struggled with pre-term contractions throughout the pregnancies. Her fear of premature labor was very real. And she did not like the effect fear was having in her life. To try to combat her fear, she looked up every passage she could find on fear. Many verses she committed to memory.
Then, when she was eight months pregnant, she and her husband were involved in a serious car accident. She suffered many broken bones and a punctured lung. She did not feel her baby move for hours. During those hours, she was comforted by the verses she had already studied on fear. She had a ready refuge of peace. She was in the hospital for a week then in a rehab facility for another week. When the time came to deliver her son, her leg was in a cast. (Can you imagine giving birth with a cast on your leg?) But she had all those verses treasured in her heart, bound to her memory and ready to draw on any time she needed their reassuring encouragement.
I told her about my own period of darkness. How my husband and I waited for a miracle. Or braced ourselves for devastating news. So many months of sleepless nights. I would awaken at 2 or 3 AM and all I could do was read my Bible…for hours…soaking in the peace and comfort written over and over. Seeing God’s faithfulness revealed time after time. Those hours spent in the Word got me through each day, and then I would repeat cycle again. Every day for many, many months.
My friend and I agreed that it was in those darkest hours, days, weeks and months that we experienced the greatest spiritual growth. Our problems were bigger than we were and we did not have the solution in our own strength. But God did, and true to His promises, He brought each of us a peace that passed our understanding. We didn’t pretend that we didn’t have fear. We acknowledged the fear and put it in its rightful place. Underneath the perfect love Christ freely gives us.
Today, she has four healthy boys. And she knows real peace.
Today I have the evidence of God’s hand at work in creating the miracle for which we prayed. And peace has replaced my fear.
Tell me, are you afraid? Can I offer you the Source of Peace?
I Peter 3:13-15
Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity… so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross…