Realities of Aging, Part Three

This week, Dan is joined by his wife, Becky Allender, to wrap up our series on aging. Dan and Becky reflect on what it means to embrace aging as a couple by discussing the importance of owning our limitations, moving forward in kindness to ourselves, and holding both the levity and gravity of aging together.

Dan: “What is the gain of aging? Most people consider it to be a bitter and depressing topic, but we have found it to be one that opens the door to a lot of joy.”

To open the conversation, Dan asks Becky to discuss what she believes is one of the most important things that needs to be underscored as one of the benefits of the aging process.

Becky: “I realized I need to say no more often. It’s not all that sad to do that, it actually allows for myself to do the things I want to do more if I don’t do things that I don’t want to do.”

Quoting from St. Benedict, Dan states there is a sense in which our death is an inevitable premise that should, even when we’re younger, open the door to take into account that we cannot make plans without knowing it is God’s will whether we are alive or not. There is a benefit and a freedom to acknowledge our time is even more limited than it was, which require us to say, “enough.” Aging is a context for owning our own limitations which brings with it a greater freedom to say no. Once we know our limits, Dan assumes, we are able to let go of things, whether they be physical possessions or internal dispositions.

Dan: “Aging gives you far more clarity that there aren’t many days ahead. Do you want to waste a beautiful day by worrying? There’s nothing you can do to make the future different, but there is something you can do to plan and engage with intentionality.”

Living in the truth that Jesus’s forgiveness, death, and resurrection are indeed sufficient, Dan and Becky speak to the freedom to be who we are meant to be and move forward in a way that lightens the load of ourselves and, in the same sense, to be kind to ourselves. Along with kindness, the ability to hold both levity and gravity together is a mark of what aging is meant to hold, to not take ourselves as seriously as we might have before.

Dan: “Our calamities actually begin to help us frame how we want to go out of this life. How we want to, in one sense, not fight against death but what death has brought to this earth.”

Becky: “My body could be a calamity at this age, but I’m not going to feed that to myself too often, I’m going to try and rise above it. There’s more action that needs to be taken as part of our resistance than ever needed to be taken previously. […] I feel like now is the time to be strong in heart, strong in mind, strong in body.”

One premise people have in aging is that we succumb and simply let things happen. Instead, Dan argues, this is a season where if there is greater freedom there should be a greater sense of capacity, intrigue, and interest to be able to say “hell no.” When we say no, we can grow stronger, even as we age.

Dan: “I’m all for more rest because we need it, especially as we age to be able to do what we do, but when it becomes a replacement of being able to pray the Lord’s prayer – on earth as it is in heaven, then something is desperately wrong.”

Both Dan and Becky believe strongly in the importance of having a witness (as they are to each other), which Dan defines as someone who takes into account our lives and is there for the highs, the lows, and every moment in between.

In opening the door to honest conversations about aging, it is our hope that you learn to embrace the true joys growing older brings and, as Dan concludes the series, “hold your death before your eyes daily and in that, grow in wisdom.”