The Bright Side of Getting Old
Next year I’ll celebrate a milestone birthday. On second thought, “celebrate” may not be the appropriate word for the occasion. Nevertheless, I will soon pass the half century checkpoint of my journey here on this earth.
More than ever, I’m painfully aware of the truth in this saying: “Gettin’ old ain’t for wimps.” Yet, in some ways, I’m thankful for the aging process. As I get older, my memory is not as good as it used to be. If someone hurts or offends me, there’s a strong chance I’ll forget all about it by the end of the day.
In truth, I’ve never been one to hang on to grudges. This is due in part to my Italian heritage. In my family, when we get angry, we get loud. Sometimes, when we get upset, we blow up. And as we express our emotions, we also gesticulate vigorously. Then, just as fast, we get over it.
No matter what, we love each other. We are family—La Famiglia! We forgive one another. We forget.
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.
(Hebrews 12:15, NLT)
I’m glad I don’t grapple too much with bitterness. Trust me, I have plenty of other shortcomings to contend with on my pilgrimage. But I’m truly thankful that I’m not prone to holding grudges, and now I have the added advantage of age to help me forget. Growing old has helped me become more forgiving through the gift of forgetfulness.
Recently, as I was giving thanks to God for this gift, he reminded me of his compassionate and gracious nature. While my heavenly Father is much older than me, and he, too, is forgetful, he is not losing his memory in the same way that I am.
God’s heart is free from all bitterness. He forgets all of our offenses and the wrongs we have committed, not because he is absentminded, but because he chooses to continually extend his love, compassion, and grace to us:
The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
(Psalm 103:8-12, NLT)
Oh, how our Father loves us!
Where is another God like you,
who pardons the guilt of the remnant,
overlooking the sins of his special people?
You will not stay angry with your people forever,
because you delight in showing unfailing love.
Once again you will have compassion on us.
You will trample our sins under your feet
and throw them into the depths of the ocean!
You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love
as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago.
(Micah 7:18-20, NLT)
While my gift of forgetfulness now aids me in avoiding bitterness, I don’t take any credit for it. Only the Holy Spirit working by his grace can develop godly character in me. I long to have more of God’s loving nature so that I can overlook offenses and love others unconditionally. Don’t you?
If this is your desire, too, why not join me in this prayer:
Dear Lord, may I receive your grace more and more in my life so that no root of bitterness grows up to corrupt me. Help me forget the wrongs I suffer, even if it means a few more gray hairs.