I don’t hate getting old. After all, wisdom usually comes with age (usually). Being old isn’t the problem. The problem are the things that interfere with growing old. And for those who like to say age is a state of mind-I don’t mean to disagree with them, but tell that to someone who lives with chronic pain daily.
That’s why I say, age isn’t the problem. I know men and women who, into their 80’s are running half- marathons, working out in the gym and accomplishing many other things that require physical and mental endurance.
On the other hand, have you known younger individuals who are struck with such terrible diseases that they are forced to give up their jobs? Their treasured activities? Even their quality of life is compromised.
Arthritis is one of those diseases. Recently I read an article about a little girl who was struck with juvenile polyarthritis when she was 6 years old. This condition is an immune disorder. As with most immune disorders, the body’s own immune system attacks and destroys healthy tissues, causing pain and swelling in the joints until they are deformed. It is increasingly more painful as a young body grows.
This little girl grew up and at 22, had to face life in a wheelchair. Now in her 60’s, she is only 65 -pounds. But mentally, she is a heavyweight. She imagines herself healthy, doing things that she cannot do. And she trusts in her God who has helped her to find strength in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9 &10). But, her outlook is an example to me and many others.
I”m not in a wheelchair. I don’t have an immune disorder. But I have lived with chronic pain from accidents I have been in, throughout my life. Arthritis is rampant throughout my body – and nerve pain is part of it. So I have it easier than most.
Disease make even the very smallest chore exhausting and painful. And the strongest man or woman can be reduce to a crumbling lump under the covers on the worst of days. They may wake up in pain and go to bed in pain. Even household activities once attacked with enthusiasm and vigor when you were well, are activities you may have to hire to get done or not get done at all when you are ill.
As for myself, I love to garden. My neighbors are getting their soil ready and the garden centers are crowded with vegetable plants and fruit trees and people! I have spent years digging out plots of various sizes for my vegetable garden, in every home I’ve ever lived. I love watching the first seedlings sprout in February and March. Gardening is in my heart and soul. But I will not be readying a plot this year. I may be putting a few plants in some pots.
Limitations. The doctors all say to respect them. It’s hard. We all over do it. Anything worth doing is worth doing right.-right? I don’t remember who said that but my motto now is: “Anything worth doing is worth doing for 15 minutes.”
If I were to wake up even a few days a week feeling at least minimal pain, life would be full of opportunity- because I have the curiosity of 10 kids and my sense of adventure would take me all over the world and into as many gardens as possible.
If you’re a healthy 80 years young…yes, you might feel like age is only a number. I can only imagine how life could be without chronic pain. But I know one thing for sure-I will make the best of what life has to offer me now. I have the ability to choose to live happily or unhappily, young or old. And while I cannot run a marathon, or even begin to train for one; I can write-take photos- and enjoy music. I can love my family and be kind to others. And I can look to those who have been struck with something far more difficult to cope with and gain inspiration from them.
Age is just a number? You decide.