Getting older kind of stinks sometimes. Of course, considering the alternative of not getting older, I’d rather stay around a while. Years ago, I saw a really out of shape guy in a convenience store wearing a t-shirt that said, If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself. The irony was not lost on me. Aging has its perks, but there are things I wish I’d done when I was young that would have made getting older easier.
In the hope someone will listen and not make the same mistakes, I’m going to share three of them: I wish I’d taken better care of my body. I wish I’d better prepared for my financial future. And I wish I’d found God’s purpose for my life earlier.
I Wish I’d Taken Better Care of my Body
I should have figured out earlier that it was the only one I was going to get in this life. They say that diet sodas are very bad for your health (by the way, who are “they” and why do we pay so much attention to them?), but I downed several a day.
Because I was always worried about my weight. It was worth the risk. I mean if it cuts a few years off my life, at least I’ll look good in my coffin, huh? Funny thing is, when you get to the place that your life expectancy can be counted in a few short decades (if you’re lucky), you don’t want to give up a single day.
And it didn’t help me lose weight. Not permanently. My body blew up and down like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon.
Which brings me to another thing. If I’d stayed off the yo-yo, I wouldn’t be as wrinkled now. I’ve struggled with my weight since I was in my late thirties. I lost an enormous amount of weight about nine years ago—135 pounds, leveling off at a 120-pound loss. I’ve kept most of it off for those nine years, going up and down 30 or 40 pounds. I’m still fighting the battle of the bulge, but every time I look into the mirror I wish that I’d considered what was going to happen to my face after so many “blow-ups.” Consistent weight and proper skincare will help you age better. Believe me, you’ll wish you had put forth the effort!
The Bible says our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit I Corinthians 6:19. I think He’d like to have a nice healthy place to live.
I Wish I’d Better Prepared for my Financial Future
I have to say, this has not been all my fault. My late husband didn’t believe in going into debt for anything. Including a house. So after renting one house for ten years and for another eleven, I was left with nothing but a stack of receipts when he died. We actually did buy those houses—for our landlords!
So, what could I have done differently?
I could have confronted my husband about the position he was putting me in.
Confrontation was not one of my life skills. I’m presently writing a book about how women should respectfully confront their husbands and what it means to be a true “helpmate.”
And I should have insisted I be a partner in the financial aspects of our marriage. I didn’t really try until his health began to fail. My husband did everything.
When he went into the hospital for quadruple bypass surgery, I was overwhelmed because I hardly knew how to write a check or use an ATM card. Money isn’t a man thing. Or a woman thing, for that matter. It’s something couples need to work on together. I think more marital discord stems from money concerns than anything else.
So what are some things a woman can do while she’s younger to increase her financial well-being in her older age?
If you’re married you have the opportunity to invest with your husband, but if you’re not, or you make your own money and he’s not interested and is not opposed, it might be a good idea to do it yourself. I had an IRA for a short time, but I thought it was too late for me to reap any real benefits from investing, so I pulled it out, paid the taxes and had an extra few hundred dollars in my bank account. Where’s that money now?
Mmmm. I have no idea.
Even a small return from investments would be nice now. I’ve always been a little nervous about the stock market. It feels kind of like gambling. Wish I had some money in it now! At this writing, it’s doing pretty darn good.
Investing is a biblical principle.
Remember the parable of the talents? A man went into a far country and left his servants in charge of his property. He gave the first man five talents (a talent is a weight of money), the second two talents, and the last man one talent—each according to their ability.
The guys with the most talents invested them and got a big return for their master’s money. And the master made it worth their while.
The guy with one talent literally buried it in his back yard out of fear.
Matthew 25:25-27 So I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.
The master told his servant, “ . . . you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming, I should have received what was my own with interest.”
Not only did the man not gain from investing the master’s money, the master took what he had away and he ended up with nothing. I know this scripture is talking about the coming of the Lord, but I doubt Jesus would have used this scenario as an example if it had not been a sound principle.
Maybe you don’t have much to invest, but small regular contributions will yield benefits and add something to your retirement. Of course, I’m not an investment professional, so don’t take my word for it. Dave Ramsey at Ramsey Solutions gives great advice for first timers on investing.
What about a small business? You can put your “talents” to work and build a nice savings account for your future.
My point is this: Don’t just do nothing and hope everything works out. Think about the future. Of course, keep everything in perspective, but remember what the Bible says about ants?
Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.
How cool that this industrious creature is female.
I read somewhere that male ants are basically just flying sperm. And she doesn’t depend on someone over her to do it all. She contributes.
I love the Proverbs 31 woman, also.
Proverbs 31:16-18 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. (verse 18) She perceives her merchandise is profitable.
Some people have a skewed idea of what the Bible says a woman can and cannot do. God invested myriad talents in us, and He wants a return on His investment.
One short caveat: I did confront my husband about buying a house eventually. Bill was 21 years my elder, so I became the primary breadwinner late in our marriage. I finally convinced him to buy a house, since I was the one paying most of the bills. We bought it at the height of the housing boom and lost it in the bust, just a year or so before he died. If we’d bought one years before, I would have had a home when I was widowed.
I Wish I’d Paid More Attention to my Purpose in Life
One of the great questions we constantly ask ourselves—and God, is “What is my purpose in life?”
It would be nice if it worked like it does with a car. You take it to a mechanic. He hooks it up to a computer and out pops a code telling you what needs to be fixed to make your car function the way the manufacturer intended.
Actually, finding your purpose does work a little like that. Paying attention to the manufacturer will help you get everything he intended for you to enjoy in your new car. Disregarding the manufacturer will eventually land your car in the junkyard.
Recognizing that God has a very particular plan for each of us, and keeping that in mind—even though we may not understand it completely—will cause us to stop and think when something doesn’t feel right.
We know our cars.
We keep an ear to the engine, and if it starts making funny noises, we take it to the mechanic before something really goes wrong. Or we should, at least! When something just doesn’t feel right in our lives, it can be the Holy Spirit trying to help us get back on track. Being in tune with God—and with our own feelings—will help us follow that still small voice that says This is the way. Walk in it. Isaiah 30:21
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
My older self has learned to do that fairly well. I have this running, under-my-breath conversation with the Lord as I go through the day, “Lord, lead me. Help me to do your will. I love you, Lord.”
And I spend more time listening. I often wake up in the night with a thought I feel God has placed in my mind. But that’s easier to do at this stage of my life. My children are raised. I have more time. It’s hard to “listen” for God’s voice when your life is so hectic you can’t hear yourself think.
But I’m sorry to say—that’s no excuse.
It’s during those years that we need direction most! What might I have accomplished in my younger life if I’d taken time to listen more closely to the Holy Spirit’s promptings?
What great things could I have done for God if I’d skipped some television or gotten up an hour earlier to pray?
We CAN find the time we need to learn God’s purpose for our lives. We just have to want to.
I’m sorry if that sounds harsh. But I feel compelled to say it. We have to shake ourselves and realize we have a finite amount of time to do what God has called us to do. I wish someone had told me this. I’m sure someone did, but I was too busy to listen. My admonition to you, my younger readers, is life is short. God has something for you to accomplish that no one else can. But it’s going to take some effort on your part to find out what that is. Please, please, start now.
Finding your purpose takes time because it’s a process.
When I was a young woman, I thought I knew what I was supposed to do with my life. I was on fire for God. I thought I was supposed to be a preacher. But when I got married my husband forbade it. He felt the Bible forbade it. And there are definitely scriptures that could be interpreted that way. I won’t try to tackle that subject here.
Because I couldn’t fulfill the thing I felt I had been called to do, I began exploring other options.
I’m a creative person, so I started using my creativity in different ways. We needed musicians in our church. There was a piano sitting in the sanctuary with no one to play it. So I learned to play by ear. I have a pretty good voice, so I started to sing. These were things we needed in the ministry, so I did them. And I loved it. But music was a side note in my life. It wasn’t the symphony.
In the Christian school where I taught, I created a drama troupe. We traveled to several churches each year and ministered in the Spirit. There was an anointing on those young people. Many of them said their lives were changed by allowing the Holy Spirit to move through them. And many who came to our performances were deeply touched and some were born again. It was wonderful.
These things were good, and God used them, but there was something more, and I knew it.
Many, many years ago I started writing a book. It’s a beautiful story about the Old Testament character Leah. And as I did, I came to believe that this was what God really wanted me to do. This was my purpose. I started a blog primarily as an avenue to gain an audience for my biblical fiction writing.
But the blog soon became an end in itself.
I used my story-telling ability to teach women how to apply the Word of God to their problems. That’s how Persevering Women came to be.
God is using this blog in a significant way. We hear from women who have been greatly helped by it. And my book is finished, waiting for a boot out into the world.
I don’t think God had really called me to be a preacher.
My husband passed away, and the wonderful man I’m married to now would have no problem with me preaching behind a pulpit if I wanted to. But I’m more confident than ever that God called me to write. Both fiction and non-fiction. Bible studies. Blog posts about living the Christian life. All with the purpose of teaching the principles of God’s Word.
Many of us have made plans. Given them up. Started on something new—a number of times. Our minds spin with ideas. But it’s God’s purpose for us that will prevail in the end. The rest of it just gets winnowed out with the winds of life.
Proverbs 19:21 Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand.
God has a plan, and He’ll get us where He wants us. But it can be sooner rather than later if we tune ourselves into His voice.
I hope that you, our younger readers, will consider how taking care of your body, preparing for retirement, and finding your purpose early will lead toward a happy, healthy life in your older age.
And for those of you who are already there. It’s never too late to make improvements. Rebecca and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed, productive New Year.