Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Pain of Aging - The Unspoken Experience

The name of this painting is "Dancing and the Art of Growing Old Gracefully" by Paola Catizone in Dublin. Her web site is here.

This is a topic which has been endeared to my heart but which I have not spoken of much, until now. I'm sure this topic will take many postings to cover.

Before I begin I must make a couple of statements. While we attempt to paint aging it the most positive colors, I do believe that it is part of the curse of the immortality of humans. To deny that curse-ness I think is to live in denial. When I've attempted to discuss my feelings about aging with some of my Christian friends, immediately they see me as "just being negative" once again. Or, not having an eternal perspective or, lastly, just being self-consumed. I think this is why I've avoided talking about it until now. But it is part of the human experience. It is painful (both emotionally and physically) and I think it needs a microphone in which to speak and to speak candidly. I will cut to the chase. Getting older sucks. You can put lipstick on it, but is it not still swine?

I think I gave myself permission to speak of the pain of aging when, a few weeks ago, I heard an interview on NPR. I can't remember who was being interviewed but it was a "has-been" actress. She lives here in Beverly Hills (yeah, I'm sitting in Starbucks in Beverly Hills right now). Her entire life had been centered on her beauty. She got everything by her looks.

Like a mummification, the technicians here really know how to preserve age. As she grew older and older, her beauty was well preserved. Until one notorious day. She was driving her BMW convertible, at a high speed, down the Sana Monica Boulevard and a cop pulled her over. She says, up until that point, she had never gotten a ticket . . . just warnings. The cop would recognize her, or she would simply flirt (which she admits being an expert at) and he would blush and let her go. This time though, it didn't work. The young cop didn't recognize her nor did her flirting work (as she was approaching 50). He gave her a ticket. But far beyond the $150 fine, she was completely devastated. Her youth, her beauty was at that line of demarcation . . . gone forever. Of course it had been insidious . . . but this moment was the chief milestone.

She turned around, drove to her Beverly Hills mansion and got totally drunk. She stayed drunk for the next twenty years to dampen the pain.

She was on NPR because she had written a book about her coming to grips with getting older and losing her beauty.

I will be back. I have a meeting that I'm late for. I will try to correct any typos later . . . thanks for your patience.


Anonymous said...

You're in Southern Californian the same week I'm in Pittsburgh. Figures.

There's this expression you hear all the time in SoCal in birthday announcements: "X Years YOUNG." As in "Eighty Years YOUNG." If anyone uses it on you, give 'em that Christian Sack Tap. Hard.

"Eighty years YOUNG" always gave me this mental image of an 80-year-old Michael Jackson, his plastic surgery falling off with age, screaming into a mirror in his footie-jammies "I'M YOUNG! I'M YOUNG! I'M YOUNG! REALLY! I AM! I'M YOUNG!"

Being raised as a kid genius, I ended up with my psychological age falling as far behind my age as my IQ raced ahead of it. At 54, I'm now where most people are in their twenties, and after a lifetime of being Too Young, I have suddenly (especially in the girl department) become Too Old.

(And ever notice that Big Name Celebrity Televangelists, no matter how old they are, have Young (TM) Stepford Wives straight out of Central Casting, silicone and all?)

Headless Unicorn Guy

Johan said...

Ah, good topic!
Not that I'm old already, at 33 I'm still young! Though not really, really young. And even I am looking forward and wondering at the speed at which my life moves.
Some time ago an acquaintance stated that people older than 40 cannot change their personalities anymore. I was shocked, because that meant that I have only a few years left to change, and there's still so much in me that is ... well, broken (and will be, obviously, as i do not believe in perfection this side of the coming kingdom).
Even as someone younger I realise the fact of our mortality is a curse. And we should see it as that. The way the bible sees it. And living as if it isn't real is no solution. Death and aging are consequences of the fall, and part of the brokenness of creation that (as Romans 8 states) is subject to chaos and brokenness and groans with the pain of it. This, the temporal nature of our existence, the end that looms at the horizon, is another reason for us to look forward to the revelation of the sons of God of which Romans 8 speaks.
I think all those people trying to hide their age (or being ... years young), are living in denial. If they are christians I doubt if they appreciate the christian hope, which is the new kingdom in which death is done away with. The new heavens and the new eart. Where is our hope? If we (subconsciously) believe this life is all we have, yes, then we 'eat and drink, because tomorrow we'll die'. We'll try to postpone our confrontation with the end as long as we can. But when we appreciate the hope that is ours, we will be free to acknowledge the hurt and brokenness of reality, and still not succumb to despair because we know that the suffering of our time does not compare to the weight of glory prepared for us.


Anonymous said...

If they are christians I doubt if they appreciate the christian hope, which is the new kingdom in which death is done away with. The new heavens and the new earth. Where is our hope? -- Johan

If it's Fluffy Cloud Heaven (search YouTube for "Estus Pirkle Believers Heaven") or the Heaven (TM) of Left Behind: Volumes 13 & 16, you'll want to "postpone your confrontation with the end" even more. There are Christian Heavens so bereft of hope they make Hell or utterly ceasing to exist look preferable.

Anonymous said...

Aging indeed sucks. I am enjoying your honest posts on aging…a topic most Christians gloss over with clich├ęs about looking forward to the “afterlife”. I hope you don’t mind a short study that I have been working on about the “gospel” or good news being for the here and now and not really about the “hereafter” as most are preaching.

I have come to believe that it (the writings of the Bible) is ALL about this life in the here and now. Is this life really just a temporary stopover …a waiting room…for the “afterlife” in heaven? Did not God send His Son into THIS WORLD so that we might have life and have it more abundantly in the here and now? If He came into this world and died for us, then why are we still dying in this world? Did not Jesus say that whoever believes in Him shall not perish (decay) but have an everlasting life? Then why are many perishing from off this earth?

As it says in Romans 8… if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in us, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken (make alive) our MORTAL (which means liable to death) bodies by His Spirit that dwells in us. This is something now in the present tense applying to our mortal bodies that have not died yet.

Romans 8:11-14 KJV
(11) But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
(12) Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

And again, if through the Spirit do we deaden the deeds of the body, we shall live…in the here and now.

(13) For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

With the keeping of the “daily” sacrifice (always bearing about in the body the dying of our Lord Jesus), the life also of Jesus is to be made MANIFEST in our mortal bodies…in this life. It is His life that He has already in heaven that is to be made manifest in our mortal flesh in this life. This is the “coming of Christ” that we are expecting…the appearing life of Jesus in our mortal bodies so that we may display His glory in this dark and dying world. His Word is made flesh so that the world may see the glory of the Father.

2 Corinthians 4:10-11 KJV
(10) Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
(11) For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

If His life is to be made manifest in our mortal flesh in this life, then why do we not see this now? It is because men have come preaching in their own authority (for money’s sake) and leading many astray from the keeping of the “daily sacrifice” and down the broad way to the destruction of the flesh. They are preaching their covenant with death and their agreement with the grave when Jesus IS ALIVE NOW and forevermore. If Jesus is alive now, then why are they preaching that we have to die when He WAS dead and IS RISEN now?

continued in next comment....

Anonymous said...

Continuing from the previous "comment"...

A “host” …. a multitude of men…have come preaching deceitfully in order to get gain and they lead many astray from the keeping of the “daily” sacrifice. They come to take away the keeping of the dying of our Lord Jesus out of our lives so that His life is never made manifest in our mortal flesh (which gives us “eternal life” in the here and now). The “place of His sanctuary” is the MORTAL BODY….the temple of the Holy Spirit. By their deceitful preaching, they lead many astray and cast down “the place of His sanctuary” to the grave.

Daniel 8:11-12 KJV
(11) Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.

They cast down the Truth to the ground.

(12) And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.

What Truth is being cast down to the ground? That Jesus WAS dead and IS ALIVE NOW. They preach we have to die physically when Jesus ALREADY died for our sins so that we might have His life NOW in this world that He is experiencing already in heaven. The “amen” = the “truth” which is behold, I AM alive for evermore.

Revelation 1:17-18 KJV
(17) And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
(18) I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

We see this “host” with Judas who had come together with him to take away Jesus. What if this also still applies to all of the “pastors” of the churches who have come with the flattering lips (the “kiss”) in the footsteps of Judas to take away the “daily” sacrifice out of our lives so that His life is never being made manifest in our mortal lives in the here and now?

John 18:2-8 KJV
(2) And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.

They come forth as ministers of light….with “lanterns and torches”. The weapons are the tongues of men.

(3) Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.
(4) Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?

They say that they seek Jesus of Nazareth but they take the “I AM”….I EXIST….I AM ALIVE NOW FOREVERMORE…and throw it to the ground. The word “he” is inserted by the KJV translators and does not appear in the Greek. They take the “I AM” alive now and go backward and cast it to the ground. By preaching that we have to physically “die and go to heaven” they are denying that Jesus is truly ALIVE NOW so that we might have His life manifest now…giving us true healing of the effects of sin upon our mortal flesh.

(5) They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.
(6) As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.
(7) Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
(8) Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way:

Anonymous said...

continued from previous comment...some more things to consider:

They want to make the tomb sure in the ears of their listeners. They seal the stone with the handwriting of church dogmas that are contrary to us and we never depart from the churches of men who are denying that Jesus IS COMING in our mortal flesh to give us His life in the here and now. His life is to be made manifest in our mortal flesh…the "times of refreshing". We are to be regenerated in the here and now. They do not want His disciples to come along and preach to them that He is truly risen from the dead and “steal” their congregations.

Matthew 27:63-66 KJV
(63) Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
(64) Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
(65) Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
(66) So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

We are saved…we are healed…by hope. We are to be hoping for the life of Jesus to be made manifest in our mortal bodies…..the redemption of our mortal bodies in this earth. We are to hope for that which we do not see yet and we are to have patience and wait for the life of Jesus to be made manifest in our mortal bodies.

Romans 8:23-25 KJV
(23) And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
(24) For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
(25) But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

When Christ, who is our life, shall be made manifest in our mortal flesh, then shall we also appear with Him in glory. The Word is made flesh…in our mortal flesh in this world…so that this world may see what it truly means to do His will.

Colossians 3:1-4 KJV
(1) If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
(2) Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
(3) For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
(4) When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.