What is it that makes us fear aging? Getting older, as if there’s this trepidation and horror in a number? I have never been afraid of age. I guess I’ve never really thought long and hard about “getting older”. I’ve never felt old, maybe that has something to do with it. I’m just not one to worry about whether I’m 23 or 43. Age to me is simply a number, not a way of life.
I was born into a very lively family, full of vitality, exuberance, enthusiasm, pep and gusto. My parents raised to me love life, to take it all in and never worry about if I was too young or too old. I was an only child, and maybe that played a part in how I was raised. We laughed a lot, and still do. We traveled , saw the world, the US ,made long lasting friendships, experienced cultures and music, tasted new foods ( sometimes to my alarm) and soaked in life relentlessly and fearlessly. My Granny used to call us street rats, an old southern endearment for saying we were always on the go. My parents and I were never still, (a way of life Johnny and I have made part of our own foundation) constantly and continually on the go somewhere, doing something together and usually up way later than we should have been.They not only took me around the world and back again, we spent our days at the zoo, museums, inside castles, sailing down rivers, gong to concerts, the beach and countless amusement parks. My parents rode every ride with me including the roller coasters. Till this day I don’t see my parents as old, they just never seem to age in my eyes. They’ve mastered the art of Facebook, instagram, text messaging, email and being able to keep up with their grandsons in a whole new digital world. I know they’re aging, none of us can hold back the clock, but I sometimes think my parents have found a way to slow it down. What I’ve learned from not only watching my parents, but living life right alongside of them all these years is to be fearless in my pursuit of life.
The biggest lesson I've absorbed growing up in the home I did was I’m beautiful even when I don’t feel like it, understanding even when I’m hurt, my value isn’t based on someone else's opinions, nor is my happiness or self-esteem. My parents gave me the ability to spread my wings without fear, to experience life fully. Because of that, I’m a free spirit, a weird combination of quiet and loud I guess. Growing up fearlessly the way I have, I’ve been able to grasp and appreciate the woman I have become today. At 43, I’m still the girl with a set of Mickey Mouse ears on top of her head; I still make those crazy, funny faces and you bet I get on those roller coasters with my kids. I’m still in awe of my Mama and Daddy and their undaunted, bold, feisty and fearless free spirits. My parents, after 47 years of marriage have mastered the art of a playful. joyful life and in doing so have stayed young and vibrant. Life Lesson # 53 ~ Live fearlessly and you’ll never have to settle for anything.
So why fear age? It is truly nothing but a number and there’s not a number big enough to define who I am, let alone who you are. Diane Von Furstenberg is absolutely on point, “Aging is out of your control. How you handle it, though, is in your hands.” Living life fearlessly is not about a lack of fear, but instead a determination to overcome it, not allowing fear to control you or your passions. Psalm 118:6a says this about fear, “The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.” What is there to be afraid of anyway, some wrinkles, a little extra weight, gray hairs, glasses, or yes even death? This is the thing I believe based on my parents examples , if you’re busy living life, enjoying it, fearless in the pursuit of happiness, filled with joy, free from anxiety and “the end’, contentment will make herself right at home.
Does this mean we’ve never felt the sting of rejection, the pain of loss or the woes of financial worry? No, not all, we definitely have. Life is about all these things, but it’s also about understanding some things are simply out of our control. Matthew 6:25-26 has long been a favorite scripture my parents have repeated to me through the years, “This is why I tell you: do not be worried about the food and drink you need in order to stay alive or about clothes for your body. After all, isn't life worth more than food? And isn't the body worth more than clothes? Look at the birds: they do not plant seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns; yet your Father in heaven takes care of them! Aren't you worth much more than birds?” Because of my parents example I don’t just understand this, I know it to be true. In spite of everuthing life has thrown our way, cancer, the removal of my breast, chemo and the loss my hair, a stroke, job insecurity, marriage trouble and everything else in-between we’ve lived life abundantly, fearlessly and full of joy and happiness. Age has nothing on me, I’m more than any number it can tally up. What I do know, fear has no place to hide if we don’t let it define us, control us or convince us we’re anything less than enough. I guess you could say I aspire to be a beautiful person both in my youth and in my old age, fearless in my pursuit of life and happiness. My challenge to you today is this, start living a fearless life. Don’t get caught up in the whole what could have, should have been lies fear whispers in your ear. Remind yourself of the masterpiece you are, gray hairs, wrinkles and all. After all just as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”