A few days ago, I saw a short clip of an interview with Wendy Nelson, wife of President Russell M. Nelson. My ears perked up as she said that when she gets little aches and pains associated with the aging process, President Nelson says, “Isn’t it wonderful?! You see how the Lord is preparing you to come home?” At the time of this writing, I am 64 and my husband is 76. We are beginning to have a few of those age-related challenges. President and Sister Nelson are wonderful examples of growing old in faith.
My husband and I have always been fiercely independent. Even though we both apparently were hiding behind a door when Heavenly Father passed out the gift of DIY skills, there was never any household project that we were too afraid to attempt. Fortunately, when we bit off more than we could chew, we had some very good friends and neighbors who rescued us from our own lack of carpentry and plumbing skills. I often laugh at some of the projects we tackled having no skills or knowledge whatsoever. Even more amazing is that we stayed married through some of those projects!
As we get older and our bodies become less flexible and pliable, it is with excruciating pain that we decide to take on even the most minor household maintenance project. Frankly, we can take the physical pain more gracefully than asking for help. Our children and their spouses are wonderful to help when we ask, but the asking is an ego annihilator. I think they have figured this out, because occasionally they gently approach the subject and ask if we need something.
There are things we will ask our family to do, but we don’t want to take advantage of them either. They are busy with their own lives, and raising our grandchildren. There are some things that we are just biting the bullet and hiring to get done—things that we used to do for ourselves. As I write this, I’m trying to convince myself that it was really okay to pay a plumber this morning to fix a part in the toilet tank that we probably could have fixed ourselves for a whole lot less money, as well as the drip in the faucet in the bathtub. YES, it really was worth the money! It will also be worth the money to pay him to install a new bathroom faucet and kitchen faucet once we find them. Our house is old, so when parts are needed, we find ourselves scrounging a place that specializes in old parts.
Growing old in faith is a process. It requires that we put aside our egos and trust God. The phrase “endure to the end” is more than just continuing to breathe until you stop. It is continuing to find solutions to problems—even if the solution is to give a little of our independence away and trust in Heavenly Father to put people in our lives to help us. It sometimes means paying someone to do things for us that we used to be able to do ourselves. Moreover, it means being happy about it. I’m learning.
We have been thrifty our whole lives. It was more important to us that our children have good shoes and warm coats than it was to pay someone for tasks we could accomplish ourselves. Now is the time for us to understand that our children are grown and it is time to trust God that if we spend the money occasionally for a plumber or handyman that He won’t let us starve. It is time to trust Him to put people in our lives who will care about us enough to step in and help. It is also time to put our egos on the back burner. This is easier said than done.
When granted many years of life, growing old in age is natural, but growing old with grace is a choice. Growing older with grace is possible for all who will set their hearts and minds on the Giver of grace, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Growing old with grace and growing old with faith are one and the same. Having faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ comes by work and practice with the guidance of the Holy Ghost. I want to grow old having the kind of faith that never falters. I’ve had the privilege of knowing some elderly people whose bodies may be frail, but whose eyes twinkle and whose skin glow as they speak of spiritual things. I want to know my Savior so well that I have no fear of putting aside my own ego and laying my problems at His feet—even the leaky toilet and dripping faucets.
Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the skin, but giving up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair—these are the long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust. You are as young as your faith and as old as your doubts; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.—President James E. Faust, Stories from My Life
Faith, self-confidence, and hope will help me grow old gracefully. I am determined to grow old with faith.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.