Back when I was very young and idealistic, I wanted everything to happen instantaneously. I didn’t like to wait around for people to make up their minds, spend time investing in something that didn’t produce immediate results, or commit to long-haul projects. I liked to get things done as quickly as possible and move on. After all, I people to see, places to go. I had my whole life ahead of me.
Enter debilitating illness, equivalent to a divine slap in the face and a full body slam against the wall. I lay in a heap like a wet, stunned noodle for a few years like this—in denial about the fact that my life, as I knew it, was over. However, there comes a point in time when either you believe, or you don’t. You choose to fight, or you give up.
It didn’t matter that my doctors gave me no hope of recovery, advised me to file for disability, and basically fired me as a patient, stating “there’s nothing more we can do for you.” I still believed that God had put me on this planet for something more than the sum of my circumstances. Being bull-headed is sometimes a negative trait, but in this case, it saved my life. Faith, like character, is not faith unless it has been tested and found to be true. We do not grow and transform as human beings until we have been put through the fire. Adversity makes us stronger, or it kills us.
So it really bothers me when I hear people of a certain age start to say things, like, “it’s all downhill from here,” and “I don’t have enough time left to go back to school, start a new career, start dating again, etc.” Have you already decided on the length of your lifespan? Have you already chosen an end point for living? In this society, old age starts creeping upon us when we reach our late twenties. The big 3-0 is the changeover into “being older.” Everything in life seems to revolve around your demographic—what age, race, and income bracket you fall into. Like everyone fits in those arbitrary boxes…
Every time you walk into a doctor’s office, you are defined by your chronological number. You are told when you should develop heart disease, need bifocals, get arthritis, blah, blah, blah, ad nauseum. Twenty-eight-year-old professional athletes have been known to drop dead of heart attacks (remember Sergei Grinkov?). He was too young to have heart disease. He was in peak physical condition. He was too young to die. Statistics don’t mean a thing, because when it was his time, it was his time.
Same applies to the reverse: Too old to climb Mt. Everest. Too old to be out having fun. Too old to try new things. God does not put age limits on people. People put age limits on themselves. Moses did not really begin his career with the Lord until after he had spent forty years in the desert. Forty years! Imagine that. A lot of perseverance, patience, and wisdom is built in forty years.
My point is that God has never put boxes around people. We like to make those all on our own. Perhaps it’s a way of feeling secure and in control. Masters of the environment around us. One of my friends has never told her children her birthdate. They do not know her real age or when her birthday is. I asked her once why she did that and she said, “Because I’m a timeless being.” People ask, “How do your children celebrate you, then, if you don’t celebrate your birthday?” Simple. They celebrate her on Mother’s Day.
We can toe the line of Eastern philosophy here and say “You are the product of what you think of yourself.” Perhaps we won’t go as far as to say we can create our own realities, but even psychologists agree that self-talk profoundly affects our physiological being. The mind-body connection cannot be discounted. Therefore, if you keep telling yourself you’re too old or too young to do something, you will tend to make that statement true. God does not give up on people. We give up on ourselves.
Time is irrelevant. Age is irrelevant. What matters is the now, and what God is asking you to do in this present moment. Next time someone comes along and tries to put you into a chronological, income, education, or experiential box, refuse it. Burn bright in the Now, and don’t let others shortchange you because of their own fear.