When our Christian book shop closed (and what a sad event that was) I bought some bargain books including The Freedom of Years - ageing in perspective by Harriet and Donald Mowat. One phrase caught my attention when they wrote of their Christian perspective on ageing as living without triumph. They consider this expression sums up much of the journey through ageing.
Now, at first this seems to fly in the face of Christianity's great faith claims - But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:57). Aren't we supposed to remain people full of hope and joy right through to the end? Wasn't that the point of my last sermon on joy?Yes, but this phrase emphasizes another truth about ageing. That many of the events and experiences in our younger lives gave us immense satisfaction with a sense of personal achievement and certainty. We were doings things that others noticed - especially those of us working in public life. And, inevitably, memories of those accomplishments do stand out as moments of triumph. Of feeling significant and worthwhile!
However, with increased ageing those moments of triumph may no longer be repeated. Rather, we live in a present marked by the absence of those 'triumphant events and experiences' and if we are not careful our sense of significance and value can dwindle. The challenge of living without triumph is to realize that in this different season of life we are no less significant and valuable to God. We learn that individual accomplishments are not the reason why God loves us. Indeed, individual accomplishments can easily pump up pride and self-importance. No, slowing down to see a bigger picture of collective good where belonging to others, developing Holy Spirit fruit such as love, joy, patience, self-control, living in Christ's victory, is vitally important to who we are as God's children.
Just recently, some health issues have forced me to say no to some bigger commitments that in the past I would have undertaken with energy. In disappointment I am learning that living without triumph is a very different way of life but just as valid in God's love. It may be that some of my older readers will agree?!