Today is my beloved wife's 50th birthday. Rather than a day of celebration, it has become a day of mourning for her. Try as I may to console her, she somehow believes her "real life" ended last night. I am sure she will get over it as the day progresses, but it has made me think about the impact the world has on things like "getting older".
When we were young, we couldn't wait to "grow up" and enjoy all the cool things our older siblings got to do. As we got a little older and those interesting "teen" years came on the horizon; we couldn't really enjoy them because we were first looking forward to turning 14 to learn how to drive, then16 to whatever, then 18 to be an adult, and finally 21 for whatever reason. After looking forward to these important birthdays, something changed. By the time the "big 30" approached, we were already feeling old and when the awful number 40 hit; life as we knew it ended.
Now comes the big 50, and somehow it has managed to become more dreaded than the 40th was. I turn 55 next month, and I look forward to getting "senior discounts" at some restaurants. Then comes number 60 which I know nothing about. But then THE big one, number 65 hits. It is either a good or horrible number, depending on retirement issues and Medicare.
After 65 most people don't pay much attention to birthdays for they just mean they are one year closer to death. Some people place great importance on number 70, others 75 and on up the line to the only birthday that counts and that is number 100. If person makes it to 100 I think they deserve the biggest party on earth. To make it that long on this crazy earth is a miracle.
Now, if 100 is the biggest birthday of them all, I figure that all one's 50th birthday means is that you have equal time left in life as has been used up. The glass is still half full. Unfortunately, this logic has not made my wife feel any better. Oh well, as she says, "men don't get it." Being a man, I can wholeheartedly agree with that statement.
Biblically, a person was not considered an adult until they were 30 years old. Jesus could not begin his earthly ministry until he turned 30. Can you imagine the impact it would have on our culture if it was decided you had to be 30 before enjoying "adult" privileges? Of course it will never happen, but it does make one think about the concept of maturity.
You cannot hurry maturity. It takes time to grow in wisdom and understanding in any realm. You can have tremendous growth spurts, but maturity is acquired through living life and learning by experience how to do and how not to do things. As a very young man, the new king Solomon desired only one thing from God. He asked for the wisdom and understanding of someone twice or three times his age so he could best rule God's people. God granted Solomon's request and he suddenly had the wisdom of an ancient while still a young person.
In many cultures, even today, those who have lived longest garner the greatest respect. Elders used to be looked up to, due to their extensive wisdom and insight into life. Now they are deported to the nearest nursing home to be gotten out of the way. Elders, even in the first century, were to highly esteemed and treated with the utmost of dignity and respect. Elders today are a nuisance to younger people's busy lifestyles and pretty much forgotten until they physically go downhill.
Birthdates do not bother me since I view this period of time on earth as just a sojourning passage. What does bother me is the attitude I see in so many people my age toward their parents. If I had to pick one birthdate that seems to mark a physical change in people, I would choose the 80th. It seems many people's physical condition starts going downhill around their 80th birthday. Thus, if I were to pick one birthday to celebrate with a wild party and balloons and a parade for my favorite "elderly" friend; it would no doubt be the 80th. Anything to keep them thinking young.
My wife will be fine, I know her very well. When the day is over and she reflects on this day; it will be just another day in life, getting another day closer to seeing our Lord face to face. That, for me, is the true significance of a birthday. All it means is we are one day closer to being freed from the bondage of this earthly body and having to live in this wretched place called the world.
Back to "woes" tomorrow. God Bless.