To age well is to become more self-aware. It’s to become editor of our thoughts and behavior, and to nurture humility that squelches our pride.
To age well is to proofread our words before they come out of our mouth, and before we post them on Facebook. To age well is less about what happens to us physically and more about how we manage our relationships.
I found this prayer from centuries ago about how to age well that we would all be wise to pray. Maybe we could incorporate it in the order of service on Sunday morning.
17th Century Nun’s Prayer
Lord, Thou knowest better than I know myself, that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but Thou knowest Lord that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience.
I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.
Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a Saint – some of them are so hard to live with – but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And, give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.
I love this prayer because to age well is something we can control. We may not have control over what happens to our bodies, but we do have the power to become more self-aware in how we relate to people.
The prayer reminds me of a retired missionary I once heard answer this question put to her: “Looking back on your long career, do you have any regrets?”
Pausing with a deep sigh she answered, “My one regret is that I was way too hard on young missionaries when they came to the field. I expected them to respond to the challenges of missionary life the way I did when I was their age. That was wrong on my part, and I deeply regret that I did not show them more grace.”
Now that’s a woman who became more self-aware as the years piled up. She knew in later life how to age well.
What about you?
Are you up for becoming more self-aware so that people will turn to you when they want to learn the best way to grow old?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on all this. Please leave a reply.
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There's more to come next Wednesday. In the meantime, you can scroll through all 3 seasons and 67 episodes of You Were Made for This. Season 4 resumes September 9th.