Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The joke books are full of stories about “older people.”
They range from being unable to collate with the youthful world around them to just being unable to comprehend the changes, speed and scope of issues that are a part of this contemporary world. And that is OK, because experience and reality make it clear to those of us who are older, that there is no way we can keep up with it all.
The stories are often ways of pointing out how we will all get caught one day in the slow traffic lane of the speedway of life. It doesn’t mean that older people have to stop making their journey, they simply have to adjust how they travel.
One of the mistakes of youthfulness is to categorize older people as un-important and of lesser value. Does not our world worship youth, beauty and energy?
Even older people try desperately to defy the ravages of aging by trying to remain youthful in appearance. Of course, none of us wants to give in to the signs of aging so we have fitness centers, diet spas, plastic surgeons, make-over artists, sporty cars and medications to cover all kinds of old-age dysfunctions. But at its best, it is a losing proposition.
Accepting who we are and where we are is part of the true signs of maturity in aging. We were not created by God to be forever young but simply to be forever in his love. The prophet recorded those words of God to ancient Israel: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jer. 31:3)
That, friends, is the greatest gift that God has given to us. It will keep us vibrant, active, alive and vital throughout life regardless of our present age. Accepting our limits as we grow older is not a sign of weakness but simply a sign of awareness and gratitude.
The sooner we accept that there are three things we cannot do with older people, the more accepting we will all be.
You cannot fuss at them, you cannot hurry them and you cannot tell them what to do. It is when we try to mold older people into our expectations of what they should do by rushing them and fussing at them that everyone gets into a tizzy.
Why not accept older people for who they are, give them our respect and show them our love. After all, it seems to me that this is what God expects of us anyway. We just might find that older people are as much fun as youthful people, only they function best when they are affirmed, not hurried and not directed.
But then, isn’t that true for all of us, regardless of our age?