Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Growing Old Gracefully

As I grow older and experience more of life, I find it increasingly challenging to keep a soft heart. Reasons to be disillusioned, negative and closed off loom in various places, and those places seem to multiply at a rapid pace.

And that's a problem for me because I envision myself growing old gracefully, embracing life and living to the fullest. When I close my eyes, I see a vivacious, smiling, seasoned woman surrounded by friends and family...and lots and lots of grandchildren.

Allowing myself to be distracted by challenges, inconveniences and negativity threatens my dream of blissful existence.

A few years ago, I met a woman with many years behind her. It's safe to say she's seen a lot that could make her disillusioned, bitter and cold; yet she smiles more than anyone else I've ever known. As she speaks to others, her love and enthusiasm spread in a splendidly contagious way. People leave her presence feeling better about the world and life in general.

She says her body doesn't work like it use to, but that's okay because every day is a gift from God. She feels blessed to be alive.

She has a soft heart. She's who I want to be: a gracious, kind, loving and splendidly contagious woman.

I heard her tell someone once that she just loves life, she loves children, and she is grateful for all her many blessings.

Perhaps gratitude is the key: thanking God for all the blessings and for all the challenges. Perhaps bliss is a result of surrendering our circumstances to God and trusting that he's working it all out for our good.

I can't always choose my surroundings, but I can choose to be grateful. I can't always choose my path, but I can choose to trust God with my unknowns.

And as I grow older and my body gradually stops working like it used to, I can smile a genuine smile knowing that though my heart is aging, it's as soft as it's ever been. And perhaps I'll serve as inspiration to another generation to love, laugh and cherish life.