USE IT OR LOOSE IT

Last month I turned 69, so I am now living my 70th year. Wow!! For some reason, 70 is a big deal in my mind. I feel like I am getting ready to cross over into another country…..Senior Country.

Every decade in life presents its own challenges, and I’m not so sure I am ready for this new one. But, do I ever think I’m ready for what is ahead?

No!

Why?

Because there is no way to know for sure what my seventies will bring. The only thing I am sure of is that I made it through my sixties, with all of its unknowns, and challenges.

I now see that these last ten years have served as a transition decade for me. Major life changes brought challenges that exposed weak foundational areas in my life that were a result of neglect. This decade has been one of strengthening these basic areas, preparing me for this next Season.

DON’T NEGLECT THE FOUNDATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS IN YOUR LIFE

The most important relationship I have is with my Lord and Savior. I don’t know why, but, when things are going pretty good, I tend to let that relationship slide and become apathetic. I stop making Him the main thing. I don’t take the time to pursue Him. The more familiar you are with someone, the more attention you need to give them. I find myself doing the same in my marriage. We are coming up on our 47th Anniversary and we have to make sure we keep that flame alive and strong!! I love these quotes on familiarity breeding contempt.

Familiarity breeds contempt and children“….Mark Twain.

There can be no prestige without mystery, for familiarity breeds contempt”…..Charles de Gaullle.

In communications familiarity breeds apathy“….William BernBach.

The problems that result from neglect begin to show up when major life changes take place, as they did in my sixties. I moved away from all things familiar. I no longer had job demands on me. I was way less busy and life returned to revolving around and me and Jesus, and then, me and my spouse.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

I had a total knee replacement at sixty-five. Everything went great for two years. So great, that I began doing some more strenuous exercising (like deep knee bends, I know…..I’m crazy) which resulted in sharp pain in my knee. After numerous X-rays, and months of physical therapy, it has been determined that I have an old hamstring injury that has flared up because I’ve overworked my weak muscles. In other words, my new knee is much stronger than my old muscles can handle. So, after 1 1/2 years, I am still dealing with this hamstring that is taking forever to heal. If I had paid attention to my body and kept my muscles strong and not overworked them, maybe they would have been able to handle my new knee.

In my fifties and sixties I was always too busy to do those basic exercises and because I had knee pain I gave up too quickly and talked myself into waiting until I got a new knee. I didn’t take the time to do the things that would take care of me. Some people are good at making time for themselves, and, others aren’t so good at it. It doesn’t matter where you find yourself, the important thing is to take time for the basics that will keep you strong physically and emotionally. Exercise, eat healthy food and do your nails….Ha!! Take care of you!

I believe my sixties exposed weaknesses that I wasn’t aware of. Areas I neglected because they weren’t causing problems at the time. As a result, they became weaker, and when everything else around me changed, their weakness left me hurting and vulnerable.

The good thing is that I still had a foundation left that had been laid strong and secure so I could begin to rebuild. I just needed reinforcements, which came as I again pursued the Lord and got to know my spouse in this new season. I’m different, yet the same. Life is good, but in new ways. Relationships have never meant as much to me as they do now. Swimming, strengthening major muscle groups, and eating healthy food is a must these days if I want to keep upright in this next decade!

This had me on the floor laughing!! Life happens!!

SPEAK THE TRUTH

2020 was a year that brought lots of changes. All of us have had to learn to do everyday life in new ways. When such drastic change happens in the world around you, it exposes weaknesses and strengths in the structure of your current life. I have taken the month of January to ask myself some hard questions. The one that brought me up short was “How did 2020 change me?” As I was honest with myself I had to admit to this one huge weakness that I had allowed in my life.

I HAD CHANGED FROM BEING OPEN AND HONEST TO SOMEONE WHO IS AFRAID TO SPEAK OUT.

My nickname as a child and even as a young wife and mom, was ‘honest John”. In fact, my in-laws always said, “If you want to know the truth, ask Susan. She tells it like it is!” I was honest to a fault!

Over the years I found out people didn’t want me to be too honest. Because I served in ministry in our church, I was often asked to councel those I served when they needed help. I learned pretty quickly that many of them didn’t really want to hear an honest answer to their situation. When I was honest with them about what I felt God showed me, oftentimes, they never asked for my council again. Over time I learned to test the waters before I offered any council to see how honest they really wanted me to be.

This year the art of hiding what I am really thinking has gone to another level. In fact, I have learned that if I say what I really think or even share what I know as truth, I am often ridiculed and shamed for speaking out. As a result, I have found myself choosing to be silent because I’ve been afraid of opposition.

I haven’t really liked this new me. It has made me feel uncomfortable, like I’m hiding in a cave, afraid someone will find me and do who knows what to me because they don’t like what I stand for or believe. I have never been a ‘hide in the cave’ sort of person!!

So I asked the Lord, (who is my ultimate counselor) “Is it a bad thing to choose to be silent and let others assume I agree with their view in order to avoid saying what I believe to be true because I’m afraid of rejection and ridicule?”

This is what I heard God say, “When you chose to follow me, you chose to be ridiculed and rejected.”

Being afraid to speak the truth or speak out against a wrong I see is something I face almost everyday. It’s easy to just hide in my corner of the world and pretend I am ok with things that are going on around me when I am NOT. When I chose to follow Jesus I wasn’t promised a life without opposition. All I have to do is read the New Testament to know that the life of a follower of Jesus was not easy. It is full of situations where believers were put in prison for what they said and did. They were beheaded and their children were killed. Life was scary! Do I think those things could happen to me? I sure hope not!!! But I can’t let the fear that they could keep me from sharing the gospel and speaking out against wrongs that are being called right.

Truth has become whatever people want it to be. We even hear statements such as “Well, that is my truth.” There aren’t any absolutes anymore. But if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ you should know what the truth is and it should set you free, not put you in prison!!

I HAVE TO BASE MY TRUTH ON THE WORD OF GOD!

He is the TRUTH! Therefore what He says is true. I have to know what the Bible says about how to live in this world. I have to know what my life is built on and make sure my foundation is sure. So many people who say they are Christians aren’t even sure they believe what the Bible says is for today. In order to be sure of what I believe, I have to be studying the scripture and check out what I am hearing from others to make sure what they are saying is based in scripture. I can’t just believe everything I’m told.

The days of the ‘lazy’ Christian are gone. We have to know what we know and when we don’t know we have to search the scriptures and depend on the Holy Spirit to teach us what is right!

How will 2021 be different from 2020 in my life? I plan to say more and read more. No longer will I accept what people are saying on social media or TV as truth. I plan to make a point to educate myself so I’m not afraid to speak out when I need to. 2020 was a wakeup call for me and I am excited to see what God is going to do in 2021.

I’d love to hear about the changes you want to see in your life this year.