The preoccupation with youthfulness has resulted in the great modern American obsession to eliminate, delay, or escape the fate of physical deterioration from growing old. 1
As a person nearing 50, I am becoming more and more aware of how being this age means in a society that fears aging. The last real conversation I had with my mother was about how she said I should NEVER let my hair go gray and continue to dye my hair as if it was the purpose of my life.
I did not listen to my mother. I had made the decision before our last conversation as I had been battling the gray for years and decided no more in the later part of 2010. Mom was serious though. She had many valid reasons why, and to be honest the reasons she had seem to be as valid today in 2016 as she experienced all her life. As my opening quote shares we live in a society where this preoccupation with youth is insane.
It is something to be ashamed of to have gray hair. I actually was told by a person a bit older than me that I must have some sort of a vitamin deficiency because my hair was graying. The truth of the matter is that gray hair comes to those that age. Some may not get gray until their 50s or 60s, but for the average person the 40s are when gray hair appears and slowly takes over. 2 To suggest that I may have a vitamin deficiency is possible, but my age alone is the key as to the arrival of gray hair!
Our modern society says that people reach their most desired or peak phase in life either in their late teens or at that coveted milestone, age twenty-one. After that, they are thought to begin their downward journey, to be "over the hill." By contrast, the scriptures assert that the pinnacle of a person's life is in old age. 1Why do we perpetuate this? Why do we allow this to be perpetuated? I cannot begin to tally how many women I have spoken to in the past several years about hair color and the dying of hair. Nearly every single woman responded with the notion that graying was horrible and something tragic. One said she had too much trauma to see herself gray, another said that she is not old enough to be gray yet, and a good number out and out stated that they DO NOT have gray hair although in the period of time that I have known them all, they color their hair monthly, if not weekly! Why is having gray hair so horrible? And most of the women I interact with are professing Christians, and this viewpoint of being gray or aged is something they see as bad, yet the Bible says the opposite.
In Proverbs 16:31 The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.3 The word hoary is defined as gray or white with age.4
The age of people in the Bible is given at their death. It is not something to be kept secret but to be shared. The Bible emphasis is... not on one reaching his prime physically in old age, but rather spiritually, psychologically, and mentally. Therefore one did not fear advancing years but welcomed them optimistically. Thus in the Bible, people were not made to feel they ought to apologize for being alive, or that they had outlived their usefulness.1
This is the battle in the modern Christian mindset. It is hard to separate oneself from the world while having our feet firmly planted in the world. As one that is a believer, I stand in the slowly but surely I am getting older and accepting who I am. My hair is gray. Yep. I have wrinkles on the corners of my eyes. Yep. My knees make themselves known. Yep. I need reading glasses. Yep. I am not the youthful ball of energy I used to be. Yep.
Psalm 139: 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.3
In spite of the world, I have and will continue to embrace this journey of aging that I have been so far blessed with. Many people do not live as long as I have lived. My dad was killed at 28. I have a friend who lost a twin at age 2. A blogger lost her newborn son a few years ago. To decide that aging is something horrible is tragic especially for those that have not had that advantage.
The world will perpetuate youthful images in all that they do. Our Creator has revealed in His Word what is Truth and what we should do and how we should live. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Our Father knows when we would go gray. He designed us. It is not something to run from. To mom~I wish she was here or I wish I could have really explained what I believe and how I am able to be who I am in spite of living in a nation that not only embraces youth but worships youth. To mom I wish I could tell her I am aging gracefully!
1 Wilson, Marvin. L. Our Father Abraham Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith. Grand Rapids, MI.:Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Print.
2 Sashin, Daphne. "Premature Graying, Reasons, Options". WebMD. Web. March 2, 2016. http://www.webmd.com/beauty/hair-nails/abcs-premature-graying?page=2
3 King James Bible
4 hoary. Dictionary.com. Web. March 2, 2016. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hoary