Getting Older...

I had lunch with a friend yesterday and she asked what was new since she'd seen me last. I laughed and said, "If I tell you about my March and April, I will just sound like an old person." She looked puzzled. And I explained, "I've had my annual checkup, my mammogram, my colonoscopy and finally my blood was drawn this morning to check my cholesterol, my hormone levels, my vitamin D, and my white count." (CLL in my immediate family puts me at a slightly increased risk.) Oh yeah, and Monday I had a cyst surgically removed from my tongue. I'm waiting for my biopsy results on that.

But I feel great and I'm thrilled that the only menopausal symptom I've had so far are very mild and brief hot flashes. I call them warm flashes because they are nothing like what I've anticipated. And I am overjoyed that I have made it to this age without a lot of hormonal issues. (I have to give much credit for that to living with a man who is thoughtful, caring, and causes me absolutely no emotional stress.)

I've joked recently that one of the ways I realize I'm getting older is that I find myself feeling so excited about my lack of menopausal symptoms. I'm not through the experience yet, but I have to be getting close considering my age. And I am amazed at the absence of major symptoms. I will find out this week (after having my blood drawn yesterday) what my hormone levels actually are. I assumed the Yasmin I've been taking was the reason for my lack of symptoms, so I expected to feel a big difference when I stopped. But I don't feel a bit different emotionally or physically (other than the occasional warm flash). And I've dropped several pounds in the last two weeks. Maybe it's too soon to get excited, but I'm hopeful that I'm going to be one of the "lucky ones" who doesn't feel ravaged by the process.

Men may not totally relate to this, but I think a lot of women fear this age and the changes it may bring. I know I have feared it most of my adult life. I have wondered what would happen to me. Would I cry all the time? Would I have terrible hot flashes? Would I become depressed, more emotional and sensitive than I already am? Even worse, would I become awful to live with? Would I choose the risks of HRT as opposed to ten years of misery? I know a lot of women have a hard time. I have mostly heard the experiences of those who have really struggled through "the change." One friend told me that her mom is still taking hormones at 80 and insists that on the last day of her life, she will have taken her little pill.

On the other hand, I haven't heard many women talk about having an easy time. All the emphasis seems to be on how hard it is.

It's hard to believe that I have reached the dreaded "change of life" years. But I am turning 52 next month. And while I don't feel old by any stretch, it doesn't feel like I should be in my fifties already. I vividly remember sitting in my sixth grade classroom, counting the years and thinking, "Wow! I will be FORTY years old in the year 2000." Now the year 2000 with all its hoopla is more than a decade in the past. That is the bigger "Wow!" for me today.

I remember giving my dad a fiftieth birthday party in 1986. His cake said "Fifty isn't old ... if you're a tree." But fifty looks so different once you get there and then especially as you pass it by. I've learned that every age looks younger from your rearview mirror. And my mother-in-law assures me that my fifties will seem very young to me when I'm in my seventies.

I actually like being this age. I've never been happier or more at peace. I've never felt more loved and valued. I am comfortable with who I am flaws and all ... FINALLY! I have accepted that not all of my significant relationships have the potential to be "ideal." But, on the other hand, many of them truly are. And that is something to cherish and be thankful for. I have more friends than I ever dreamed of having. Not just casual friends and acquaintances, but dear friends whom I consider close and precious. I am so blessed.

This is such a good time in my life. I'm convinced these are the best years of my life in so many ways. Almost every night when we go to bed, I contemplate this beautiful life God has given me and what a gift each and every day is. I think this all the time, and almost daily I express this to John: "I still can't believe I'm married to you. I can't believe this is my life."

I also find myself thinking more about the shortness of life. I feel my mortality. I wonder what kind of elderly person I will become (if I live to be elderly). It's not morbid. It's just my reality. I'm getting older. I sometimes wish it could, but time doesn't stand still for anyone. I've had my turn at being young. I'm having my turn at "middle age." And if I don't die prematurely, I will have my turn at being old. I am trying to embrace the idea, although there are aspects of it that I certainly don't look forward to.

More than anything, I hope I will continue to grow as a person right up to my last day on earth. I want to enrich and enhance the lives of those around me in some way no matter how old I am. I think about these things on a regular basis.

I find myself thinking about heaven more than I used to. (I actually believe I'm going there now.) Several of the books I have read recently have made heaven almost tangible to me. The most recent was a chapter in "True Spirituality" by Francis Schaeffer. I want my faith to be so strong that I lose all fear of death -- and all fear of growing old.

I've read several books in the last year that address the evidence supporting the historical accuracy of the Bible. I've always accepted it as God's Word by faith. And so I am amazed at how little faith is required to recognize it as historically true (if you take the time to examine the evidence that exists). Because of the things I was taught most of my life, it's always been hard for me to believe I would ever really go to heaven. But I read the Bible so differently now. And I realize that if I believe the Bible is truly the Word of God, then I believe His promises are true -- not simply that it is an historically accurate book.

I struggle with the tendency to constantly evaluate my spiritual condition based on performance rather than relationship. I think that has been an obstacle in my prayer life. So many people these days talk about personal relationship with Him and I was evaluating my relationship based on how much I talk to Him. I know there are lots of people who talk to Him more than I do. And this makes me feel like I don't measure up. Actually, it's in the area of asking Him for things that I don't talk to Him as much as I "should." And I was kind of beating up on myself a little bit, feeling like a failure in my "relationship." In the middle of these thoughts, God so lovingly brought to my attention that there is deep relationship involved in honoring Him with my gratitude. He reminded me of how often I thank Him, not only for my blessings but for the hard things He's allowed me to go through. (Because I know it's the challenges and struggles that have shaped my character.) I needed the reassurance in that moment that I was truly in a personal relationship with Him as opposed to having a knowledge of Him, and He gave it in such a sweet and reassuring way. I have a lot of deep insecurities, but God's desire for me is that I will know I am secure in Him. The older I get, the more I get that.

Once again, I can't really tell you how I got from Point A to Point B in my thoughts. I had no idea where this post was going when I began writing. I just felt like writing today. The older I get, the more thankful I am for what God's brought me through and what He's brought me to. I am so thankful that I have to express it...regularly! And my blog gives me regular opportunities to do that.

Somehow, I picture myself writing on this blog no matter how old I get. At some point, I will just stop updating the pictures. : )


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