My 45 year old girlfriend and true best friend said that she’d like to know what I thought about getting older. I am 44 and don’t have any idea of what she thinks she will get in return as to my description, or opinion, or facts – about the topic of getting older. Hopefully I can give her an answer, however that topic/question is deep and age old. My hopes are that we can spend some time talking about it though. I think that we all at some point question our age and start to feel old, but I don’t initially have any answers for her and only more questions for myself. Oddly, as I sit here at a seemingly old desk to start her answer (in fact, so old that I just looked to verify my uneducated opinion and learned that it is indeed a very old and fairly valuable mahogany desk) The authenticity sticker verifying that the desk is an genuine also looks old and faded. Someone took the time to authenticate the age and creator of this desk, possibly in the attempt of establishing its value.
The desk that I am sitting at hasn’t been used in some time. Months and possibly years have passed since anything productive has been done here, other than a place to store clothes that didn’t fit right at the time, a retro portable cassette player from the late 80’s, a “digital answering machine” with the words “voice” and “time of day” highlighted because of the advanced technology at that time, a very large pocket (and the word pocket I use lightly as I wonder how in the world did they think it would fit) “Texas Instruments” calculator that I remember wanting myself while in high school. The keyboard, mouse and monitor, all complete with cords that drape over the desk and spill down into the spaghetti bowl twisted mess on the floor leading to the “tower” is also on this old desk. To complete the setting, I have (of course) my coffee. I always seem to have – or want coffee. While I was growing up, I wasn’t allowed coffee. I was told “it is an adult drink” and “it stunts your growth”. This description of the desk and its items start to form a pattern in my mind – a pattern of “getting older”.
Psalms 71:9 And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside. Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing
When I sat down here to start her answer, I had no idea of where to start, however I truly wanted to give her a clear answer. I am blessed with a friend that would look to me to help her understand. I believe I will start with this dusty old desk to explain my interpretation of “getting older”. What better place? My mood changes dramatically – from the melancholy or a touch of sadness at the still chaos of its current existence to the joy of what this desk may have represented from the start of its life, to the annoyance I felt about this desk when I first looked at it this morning. I imagine at its start that someone was excited as a skilled craftsman to design and build it, and yet another was maybe just as excited to buy it. It possibly went into their study or den and was topped with a typewriter. They polished it to a high shine and were proud to show it off. Now, years later with 2 of the drawer handles missing and scratches mostly hidden by dust and dirt, it’s no longer shown off. Polishing it doesn’t come to mind here awkwardly placed in the corner of the bedroom. Nope – a sledge hammer or the burn pile comes to my mind.
This desk, this inanimate object, is itself “getting older”. Has the desk seen its last days? What determines the desks “last days”? Is it just a brief fleeting feeling of annoyance? Is there a new improved desk that I could replace it with and by doing so will make my life productive again? This would be expensive. Or – do I now try and polish this desk to restore its beauty – thereby restoring its purpose? That is a lot of work. Is it truly ugly and useless now? Should I research its value, who specifically crafted it and why? Could I ever be as proud of this old beat up desk as the original craftsman or owners were? Are we as people viewed the same as this desk? Do we view ourselves and others the same as this old desk? Hmmm, does anyone else see? More questions really, than an answer for her.
As for the items on the desk, I hastily removed the piles of clothing putting them somewhere else to sit (she won’t be happy with my laziness, but hey – this is all about helping her with her question right?) and as I was doing so, wondered if I should sort through them – possibly finding use for them. I came across a few pairs of ladies pants that were (although dusty and wrinkled) brand new with tags. They were different sizes, but in my mind’s eye looked to be of similar size. I could tell that she had tried them on and for some reason didn’t want them. I hear her complaining about her figure pretty often, but usually I just give a quick (yes, sometimes insensitive) “compliment” and forget what she was saying. With her question of “getting older” in mind, I can see that my quick compliments about her figure is not what she was really looking for. She isn’t what I refer to as a shallow person, nor high maintenance. She is thinking more about her age and the changes that come with age. She is or must be searching for something deeper.
Job 12:12 Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.
I also find a few younger boys clothing mixed in the pile. This no doubt belonging to her son, but they are too small for him to have worn at any point in the recent past. I start to wonder exactly how long ago this random pile of clothing was placed on this old desk. What was she thinking and doing at the moment she abandoned the laundry? Then it suddenly dawned on me – open the drawers and discover what is in them! As I look through all the random paperwork, books, bills, pictures and letters that have a date on it, I see that the summer of 2010 was when this desk was last used. The current year is 2018, making this around 8 years ago. The boys clothing makes complete sense because her son in 2010 would have been 12 years old. Much time seemed to have passed with this desk seeing little to no use – at least not the typical use.
So… What better place to start to answer her than this old desk? Well, I think I will keep this old desk. I will use this old desk for the same uses that it has already endured and possibly some new ones. I am no longer annoyed with this desk or the disarray. I love this old desk and am not going to replace it with a new one. I see its beauty, though others may not. I may work to restore it and may have her help me, but her answer is apparent.
What I can ascertain in the moment to attempt to explain her request about getting older is that her answer will always be in the book of direction – the Bible. The ultimate and clear answer to her question can always be found in the word of God. By her asking me the question, she helped me to answer my own questions! The power of relationship and love – with the desk, with her, with God is amazing and that is absolutely His will for us.
So here you are Denise, this is my answer:
- This old desk was once brand new.
Thirst, like newly-born infants, for pure milk for the soul, that by it you may grow up to salvation.
- This old desk has been used for many purposes, including some not originally intended by its creator, and some just sitting – patiently waiting to be used again
What is my strength that I should hope? And what is mine end, that I should have patience?
And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness
There are many purposes in a man’s heart, but the counsel of Jehovah shall stand.
Only see, this I found, that God made man upright; and they sought out many purposes.
- This old desk originally had me pondering its monetary value and its purpose for its future. It has been “beat up” over time – scratched, broken and dusty. Did this affect its value? At the end of my search I learned the value – not in the desk, but in the question, the answer, the relationship and the experience.
…then he looked at wisdom and assessed its value; he established it and examined it closely
You can’t buy it with gold, and its value cannot be calculated in silver.
So Sarah laughed to herself saying, “After I am worn out and my husband is old, shall this pleasure be to me?”
She is of more value than jewels, and nothing for which you may have a desire is fair in comparison with her.
Even a tree has hope. If it is cut down, it will sprout again and grow new branches.
Though its root grows old in the earth, and its stump dies in the dust.
- Getting Older
Growing in grace they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap of spiritual vitality and rich in the verdure of trust, love, and contentment.