Column originally published in The Wylie News August 1, 2012
I may be irrelevant. I don’t feel irrelevant, but I constantly hear it from the voices around me. My kids roll their eyes when I use one of those “old fashioned phrases.” Hipster young adults look at me with pity when I admit I don’t like reading books on my electronic devices. Society keeps bumping me up on response cards and surveys where I’m no longer lumped with twenty or thirty year olds.
Sure, I’m not statistically likely to double my age from this point in my life. I guess that makes me “middle-aged.” But, since the oldest recorded modern person, Jeanne Calment, lived to be 122 years old, I refuse to admit middle-age until I’m past 61. This makes me a spring chicken.
Playing video games with my teenage son recently, I couldn’t figure out which button on which controller did what. I tried explaining I was the Pong champion in 1975, but it was too late and I was relegated to following his character and trying not to get killed while he fought off the bad guys.
Likewise, when dropping my daughter off at Wylie East one day last spring I questioned why teen boys wearing shorts, sandals and black socks are fashionable; but when I wear the same thing it’s embarrassing. I mean it’s embarrassing to her, not to me.
The crowning moment was when traveling with my parents this summer. While buying tickets to something I heard the cashier ask, “Do you qualify for the senior discount?” I looked at my father who said with an evil
grin, “Don’t look at me. He’s talking to you.” In comparison to my retired father, don’t I look like a young, virile buck? When did I become the old guy?
My teenagers, young cashiers, and everyone else under 40 can cherish their smooth skin and youthful stamina. Proverbs 20:29 reminds me, “The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.” (NIV) Those young whippersnappers can enjoy their youth. Meanwhile, I have something they don’t – experience, wisdom, and perspective.
I encourage young couples to befriend an older married couple for advice and counsel. I encourage teenagers to spend time with older folks. Sometimes it’s good to have someone who’ll put their arm around you and tell you the current drama will fade and not matter in 10 years. It’s nice to have someone you trust when they say, “This too shall pass.” Those older folks love to pass on their experiences so you don’t have to make the same mistakes
People older than you aren’t irrelevant. You ignore them at your own risk. They’re a valuable source of wisdom. If you listen to their stories and advice, you just might avoid some traps and discouragements that wait ahead of you.
- Jeff Denton is lead pastor of Waterbrook Bible Fellowship in Wylie. Take his test to see if you’re getting older at his personal blog. Here’s the link to that Quiz: http://www.dentonslive.com/are-you-getting-older-take-the-quiz/