Wednesday, December 28, 2011

RU Too Old to Change?

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!”

“He’s set in his ways!”

“She’s too old to change now!”

If you are wondering why I put an "RU" at the beginning of the title of this post, you need to read on...
Sometimes, I think we can let adages have too much control over who we are. The ones that I’ve quoted above indicate that once you reach a certain stage in life, there is no turning around, no changing directions, no chance to try, do, or be something new. Somehow, in our minds, there seems to be an unspecified age that once reached prevents a person from exploring new avenues in their lives.

I just don’t believe that.

I’m only two days away (as I write this) from reaching the age where I can officially get my AARP card. I started getting mail from them a couple of years ago. I find it sort of unbelievable that I could possibly be reaching that half century mark, but it seems to be so. Last year, I stopped into a McDonalds in Versailles, Indiana on my way to make some sales calls in Kentucky because I needed to use the facilities. (No, that’s not an age thing. I just needed to go.) On the way out, I decided to buy myself a drink.

Me: “I’ll take a small Diet Coke.”

Counter Girl using a conspiratorial whisper: “I don’t really think you’re old enough for this, but I gave you the senior discount.”

Me: “Ummm. Thanks.”

She didn’t think I was old enough to get it, but I must have been close enough for her to even consider it.


So then, I suppose I need to wonder just how close I’m getting to that magic age when I can no longer adjust, adapt, change, or become anything beyond what I already am. How soon will my path be set in stone? When will learning new tricks become impossible for me? At what point will some younger leader in the church look at me sitting in my usual spot and say, “Oh, we can’t do that ‘cause Mike would freak! He’s way too old and set in his ways!”

Maybe I’ll be blindsided, but I just don’t see it coming. It may get tougher for me to keep up with the faster and faster changes happening around me, but I don’t expect to completely become a pillar of salt while life goes on with those younger than me.

I just don’t believe that you ever get too old to change.

Consider my mother, for example. She spent 80 years living one way, and in the last year of her life she made a couple of huge shifts in direction.

First, after somewhere between 50 and 60 years as a smoker, she quit. Cold turkey. It did take a throat cancer to motivate the change, but change she did. She didn’t take Chantix. She didn’t chew Nicorette. She just put the things down and quit.  Boom!  Done!

Mom & David before her baptism.  We were in a room of friends who were sharing words of encouragement.

Secondly, after avoiding God for 81 years…after living her own way, doing her own thing, and ignoring the pleas from me and others…she finally found some faith in Someone greater than herself.  God worked on her heart through various means and various people, but the point is that even at 81 years old, my mother was not too old to change.  She was not too old to learn about God.  She was not too old to become a follower of Christ.

David and I just about to baptize my mother in my friend Brian's giant bathtub.  She was a bit frail, so we needed to hold her carefully.

Mom's baptism

It was sort of like she broke through a barrier that had been holding her back for years and years.  I loved seeing the wonder in her eyes as the realization that God really did love her began to sink in.

Can you see the wonder in Mom's eyes as Jean Keim (who was instrumental in my mother's conversion) greets her after her baptism?
So, whether you’re stuck in a spiritual rut and you think the chance to really do something with your faith has passed you by, or you have a family member that you think is too old to listen to a spiritual message….think again.

You are never too old to enjoy the adventures that God puts in your path!

Now…where’s my reading glasses? I need to fill out that AARP application!

PS:  If you are still wondering, "RU" is computer-speak for "Are you."

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