Aging Well: Our faith helps us resist the temptations of aging

I couldn’t help but laugh when my 89-year-old friend made a confession. “Some days I need a tractor to pull me out of my rut!” she exclaimed exasperatedly.

It’s true for all of us. Without realizing it, we spin our wheels, repeating the same behavior, until we’ve created ruts so deep that the only thing we can see around us is mud.

Missy Buchanan

Too much routine is certainly a temptation of aging, but it’s important to also remember that older adults have already experienced enormous change in their lifetime. In fact, has any generation experienced as much change over the span of their years as our oldest old? From transportation and communication to culture and social issues, the changes that have occurred in this older generation have been far-reaching and swift, historically-speaking.

However, so much change, even positive change, can leave a person feeling unsettled, off-balance and perhaps more resistant to even more change.

You may have hoped that as you age, you would somehow outgrow temptations like getting stuck in a rut, but it’s just not true. In fact, the older you become, the more on guard you must be against the temptations of aging if you expect younger generations to ask for and learn from the wisdom you have garnered over the years.

Aging will likely escalate your battle with a critical spirit. The increasing pain of arthritis, chronic health issues and feelings of loss may begin to drain your reservoir of patience. You are tempted to gripe about the way things are done now, referring constantly to the past. Or perhaps you are threatened that others are minimizing your past contributions. Before long you have turned into the bitter old man or woman you never intended to be.

There’s also a temptation to step away from ministry opportunities and church commitments. It seems that you have put in your time and now it’s someone else’s turn to step up to the plate. You begin to think that you have earned the right to sit back and watch from the sidelines. The problem is the Bible doesn’t mention spiritual retirement. Though physical changes may prompt you to find new ways to serve, don’t give in to the temptation to withdraw to your favorite recliner.

Now that you are standing on the more distant side of life’s timeline, you are also tempted to think that your value has eroded with each birthday. It’s hard not to be affected by the world’s noise constantly ringing in your ear, telling you that being old is being useless. That young is better than old. That aging is something to deny for as long as possible. It is little wonder that you are tempted to feel as though your worth doesn’t measure up to younger, active people who seemingly contribute more to the world.

Perhaps one of the greatest temptations of aging is worry. It’s understandable since there are so many things to worry about. Finances. Physical limitations. Chronic health issues. Insurance coverage. Increased dependence on others. Dementia. Loss of loved ones. Transitioning to a new home. Selling a longtime home. Dealing with a lifetime of stuff. Transportation. Children and grandchildren. Living alone and more.

Unless you are peering through a pair of rose-colored glasses, the litany of worries seems unavoidable and very real. But it is letting worry consume you that is the great temptation.

Aging brings a plethora of other temptations, too, from selfishness to regret. How easily you give into the temptations of aging depends on your willingness to first acknowledge them. So take a close look in the mirror. Are you modeling the Christ-like behavior you intend?

In the journey through aging, one thing is certain. The more closely you walk with Christ, the less likely you are to stumble into the pit of temptation.

Ms. Buchanan, a member of FUMC Rockwall, Texas, is the author of several books, including the new Joy Boosters: 120 Ways to Encourage Older Adults. Reach her at:

Missy Buchanan, UMR Columnist

Missy Buchanan is a sought-after speaker on topics of older adult ministry and spiritual creativity, she brings passion and humor to many events for churches, organizations, and women’s groups. She has appeared on Good Morning America with co-host Robin Roberts and is the author of books including Living with Purpose in a Worn-Out Body: Spiritual Encouragement for Older Adults, Talking with God in Old Age: Meditations and Psalms, and Don’t Write My Obituary Just Yet: Inspiring Faith Stories for Older Adults. She has written for many publications including Presbyterians Today, Mature Years, Christian Association Serving Adults Ministries, Entrepreneur, and The Dallas Morning News.

Facebook Twitter 

Leave a Reply

The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
Notify of
%d bloggers like this: