How to… Age Gracefully

The word graceful, when sticking purely to the dictionary definition of the word, characterizes a beauty of movement, style, form and execution. Being graceful holds the tendency to be elegant and smooth. Graceful also seems to suggest ease and wealth to some extent. Being graceful also carries with it charm, good taste, kindness and generosity of spirit. To me, the world’s view of being graceful gets at a sort of charisma someone either has or doesn’t have.

While there certainly are many characteristics of being graceful that appeal to me, especially kindness and generosity of spirit, the idea of being what the world considers graceful remains elusive. Honestly, graceful has never been a word used to describe me.

But that doesn’t mean that living gracefully isn’t a huge part of who I am. In fact, the presence of grace in my life determines everything about me. Without grace, my life would be absent of hope.

In Approaching Halftime, I listed four life lessons that are helping me to live in God’s grace. His grace drives my life in a way that allows me to truly age gracefully. Because of His gift of grace, my life can be one of impact and meaning that would otherwise not exist or at least be only temporal.

Knowing the impact of the grace of God in my life, I can dive into life with the freedom that only His grace can bring. To me, that is the essence of living gracefully.

God’s grace in my life equates to his favor (Genesis 6:8) and His forgiving mercy (Romans 11:6). His grace is the source of my salvation (Acts 15:11). His all-abundant (Romans 5:15-20) and all-sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) grace is something I can abound in (Romans 5:2), be strong in (2 Timothy 2:1) and grow in (2 Peter 3:18).

So how does all of this translate into aging gracefully? For me, aging gracefully, as in living my life in a way that truly shows the presence of God grace, means deliberately planning my way knowing that His constant guidance directs my every step (Proverbs 16:9). With that, I offer the following “plans” for aging gracefully in the second half of my life.

  1. Embrace aging and use it to inspire & instruct others. (Titus 2)
  2. Get to know God better than ever before. (2 Peter 3:18)
  3. Step outside my comfort zone regularly. (2 Kings 5:1-16 & Matthew 14:22-33)
  4. Share how God’s favor has worked and continues to work in my life. (Genesis 6:8)
  5. Seek to show His power through my weaknesses. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I considered setting SMART goals for these “plans,” but that approach didn’t seem quite right. At that point, God used a comment by @tnealtarver from A Curious Band of Others on my post Approaching Halftime to redirect how I approach accomplishing them. In his comment, Tom said, “I just read the opening chapter of Deb MacComber’s “God’s Guest List“yesterday. She said she wrote out a list of 30 people she wanted to meet and she did meet them. Many were major disappointments. Then she felt God prompt her to create another “30 People to Meet” list. This time she would leave the lines blank and allow God to fill them in. I think that might be good advice for goals as well.”

Because God’s grace abounds in my life, it turns out that grace really is a word that can be used to describe me. In fact, when it’s His grace that gets the glory, embracing the idea of aging gracefully becomes not only a way to help me come to terms with inevitable aging, but it also helps keep Him as the focus of all that I am and do.

And as the “how to” accomplish the plans listed above are left blank, a new excitement is brewing in my spirit. Could it be that I’m finally looking forward to the 40s? No, I’m sure it’s not that!

DISCUSSION: Are you aging gracefully? How has God’s grace worked in your life?

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15 Replies to “How to… Age Gracefully”

  1. Kari,
    You are much ahead of most people who want to make an impact with their lives. The 5 things you list are excellent pursuits. While you might not put smart goals to each of those plans I believe you will have to have some sort of framework to be able to achieve things of worth in those areas. Just having the list makes them become conscious in your mind which is of benefit. It may be that you focus on one of the areas at a time but to achieve results I think you will have to have some active planning at some point and those become goals of some sort. I really think God wants us to fill in the blanks and be open to him directing elsewhere within or outside of our plans. I am opened to be convinced otherwise. You seem to be one who does a lot of planning and I think you achieve a lot from doing so. As you have said in past post you have to make adjustments with personal goals and create balance between your set plans and things that pop up and make you reconsider and change your goal and the steps you have laid out to achieve it.
    I am thinking just because Deb MacComber’s list included people that were a major disappointment did that make her goal not worthy? A lot can be said about learning from disappointment. Also I assume there were some outside of the major disappointments that she may not have met otherwise. So I am thinking about this thought of leaving things blank. I think God treats us like adults and expects us to act thus and part of that is making decisions I believe. So I struggle with the thought of leaving things blank. I more like what you said about creating balance and making adjustments as needed. Your thoughts?

    1. As usual, Mark, you are getting me to really think more and go further with what I write about. Thank you for that. So, with that being said, I need to pray and think on what you said as it applies to the post. I will respond in more detail after I have done that. On a related note, a concern of mine is that these rather personal posts of mine are of no help to others. I worry that they are too much of me just sorting things out for myself. Do you see them that way? Thanks again for your honesty.

  2. Hey Kari, Yes, you can look forward to being 40! Sometimes we don't even really understand the PLANS God has for our lives. We think we need to control the journey. While I make many lists, part of getting old, if it is not on a list it gets forgotten, I never put travel in a semi on a list that was written. I knew it was something I once hoped to do, but never dreamed it would come true. Now with failing vision and a huge life change that is where God has me. And what a blessing.
    The best part is I did not orchestrate it! I was plugging along doing God's work when my life suddenly changed and here I am, enjoying a surprise and blessing.
    I do like your list and scriptures, because when it comes to goals like writing more these are important. Also in making changes to life. so keep writing my dear!

    1. We need to make plans and then be flexible when God decides something different. When our plans are birthed out of prayer, we are often right on with the lists we make. Yet, God also doesn't tell us everything, and we sometimes don't hear Him correctly when He tells us other things. Flexibility is important. When I was decided how to lay out my blog and plan the posts, a friend of mine cautioned me about making too firm of plans. She suggested that I leave some openness to allow the Holy Spirit to move more freely. He's a gentleman. Wise advice, I think. This is how I came to have Sunday Reflections too. Anyway, I am still struggling with this birthday, but I am also getting into the idea that God has amazing plans for me on the other side of it! Thanks again for your encouragement.

  3. Kari,
    If you don’t talk about you; who you gonna talk about? And if you don’t get personal and talk about the struggles, the ugly, the good, the victories, the heart ache, the joys what are you going to talk about?? I do not think people come to blogs like yours to get vanilla. They want all flavors and something you struggle with maybe just what a person needs to read about and think about. They may not even comment and you most likely affect people you never know about. Personal resonates with people. If you are not honest and transparent then it is obvious and people do not want that. I like Jon Acuff’s blog SCL but I don’t always read it because I do not always want to be entertained. I almost always like to read blogs like yours about a person’s authentic life and what’s knocking them around. I think your post are most helpful.

    1. Good question. I just don't want to deceive myself. I also get into the comparison game too much sometimes. When I lose my focus, even for brief moments, I begin to doubt my purpose. Just needed help with a gut check today. Thank you!

  4. As I age, I am constantly reminded that the best way to stay flexible is to STRETCH !!!! So , I try to embrace God stretching me because I know it will keep me flexible. Which, in turn helps me to accept HIS plans for me, as well of allowing Him to interupt mine. Hopefully, remaining graceful along the way.

    1. Great words of advice. Reading a book now that talks about stretching and trying new things as a way to stay sharp mentally and to age gracefully. I think you just gave me an outline for a future blog post. Always teaching!

  5. Kari, sometimes it's good to hear the echo. Your repeating my comment (which really was Deb MacComber's wisdom) deepens the truth and excites me to see what God brings my way. It's the open-palm approach to life, holding all things loosely so God can put in or take out what He desires. Good words as usual.

    1. Love the phrase "open palm approach." Good chance I will be using that in the future. My accountability partner and I were just talking about the value of repetition in our lives. God sure knew we needed it!

    1. Once again, thank you for the encouragement. I want to do all I can to finish the race strong and to run "as if" I am winning. That seems to be turning into a motto of mine.

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