I’m turning 50 in about three weeks and for the past two weeks I’ve been feeling like a has-been that never-was. Consequently, I’ve been having the biggest pity-party on the planet and I was the only attendee. Not only that, I wasn’t even the life of the party! Actually, I was more of a wet blanket than anything else. My kids tell me “Mom, you’re not old so get over it!” My husband tells me, “Your still beautiful and smart and…” My friend Dawn tells me that I am about to grow at a rate unequaled since I went from womb to kid. So why do I feel so late for the party?
It’s Glee, really. No, not the state of mind, the show. I’m a huge fan and everyone in my house knows better than to disturb me on “Glee Night.” I love music and the sound of a clear, sweet voice singing from the heart is something I’ve never been able to resist, which is probably why I’m also a fan of American Idol, The Voice, and even sometimes America’s Got Talent. The problem is that these shows are all aimed at young people with an occasional nod to the rest of us over thirty. Couple that with commercials that show teenagers advertising anti-aging creams and my self-esteem usually can be found in some subterranean basement.
We all know it. We all know that television, magazines, music, fashion, movies, the stores at the mall, everything seems to be geared to drive panting young women and men to buy this, wear that, be this, do that. But the incredible avalanche of messages based on this marketing strategy that pours on us every single day of our waking lives has an insidious, destructive side effect. It not only tells me, at 49 that I am not enough, it tells EVERYONE this same message regardless of age or looks, or wealth, or personality. For me, and others like me it culminates in the obvious insinuation that to be “mature” is to be irrelevant to the world. This isn’t only a plague of the secular world but of the Christian world as well. Look carefully. Who are the most exciting pastors and leaders and musicians of the church today? There are mega-churches that literally base their whole mission on getting “youth” in the pews.
The typical stereotype of a Christian over 50 is conservative, hymn singing, fundamentalist, bible thumping, and prudish. None of which I feel accurately describes me or any of my friends over 50. The truth is, we are just as passionate and compassionate as our younger Christian friends. We love Jesus and his Word. We love seeing new believers take their first steps, We try to love people with the same love that Jesus has for them regardless of their situation in the world. The problem is, once again, the world and the message it feeds non-Christians about us (which, unfortunately is picked up on and bought into by many younger Christians).
I’m sure you could come up with some great examples of this message. People like Jimmy Swaggart and Jerry Falwell. The actions of some very misguided people like those who protest at the funerals of fallen soldiers and who carry signs of hate to Gay and Lesbian events. These are the things that get talked about in the media. The rest of us, the ones who keep our heads down and love quietly by taking care of the sick from the AIDS epidemic, who feed the hungry, minister to prostitutes and rescue victims of human sex trafficking don’t make the headlines, but that’s okay. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount to do our good deeds in secret and our Father in heaven will reward us in secret.
So how do us “mature” Christians stay relevant and vital to the Church? How do we convince the rest of the world and the rest of the Church that we ain’t dead yet? I think this is the question it is now time for all of us to answer. As for me and my imminent arrival to the back-side of my little hill, I intend to fight this stereotype with everything I’ve got. No, not for my own vanity (although that’s a struggle I face every day). I want to fight it because us “old folk” still have a mountain of good works to do for God’s Kingdom, whether the church, or the world is ready to accept it or not.
What do you think? How do we do this?