Wrinkled Children

Wrinkled Children (1,251)

August 27th, 2011

Upon returning to my lodging last night after an absolutely delightful encounter with a smattering of folks at CountrysideCommunityUnitedMethodistChurch in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, I was greeted with a phone call. It was my son, Jerrod, from Miami, wanting to talk to me about an upcoming teaching he was going to be presenting to his twenty-something class at Christ the RockChurch. Jerrod is a dynamic gentleman with a great thirst for knowledge and sufficient ambition to have a mission to provide practical truth for some young folks who need it.

What did he desire from me? To be his fifty-nine-year-old dad who has traveled the country for forty years, singing and sharing, still possessing optimism and humor about life, while also stockpiling a treasure chest of knowledge and experience. What he did not need was for me to be tired, grumpy or dull—and he was hoping I would be aware enough of present-day society that my answers could be related to those students of the gospel he was about to encounter in his lesson format. I was happy to oblige.

Let me explain. When I get around three-year-old children, I have a pretty good idea of what they’re going to be—balls of energy with very little sense. If I expect less from them I am doggedly barking up the wrong tree. When I get around a sixteen-year-old, I fully understand that their interests lie somewhere among popularity, texting and raging sexual hormones. The possibility of deep discussions on the political environment in our world or a passage of scripture is unlikely. Likewise, when I get around people in their twenties, I am dealing with shell-shocked individuals who have discovered that being adult has more to do with paying monthly bills than pursuing life-long dreams. Likewise, young parents in their thirties are often convinced they invented procreation and are the first humans on earth to actually hatch a child, whom they must raise from the primordial ooze.

But when I get around people who are over fifty years of age, who have sprouted a few wrinkles, I do expect more. I think we have allowed our aging population to languish in a combination of perpetual adolescence and gnawing self-pity. At a point in our lives when we should be escaping the vanity of appearance, wearing our aging faces nobly and sporting a bit of humor about taking life too seriously, we instead seem to be nursing our wounds like a retreating army—en route to the infirmary instead of marching to the battlefield.

After all, there’s nothing worse than wrinkled children. As nasty and bratty as young folks can be, to add wrinkles to their faces makes it downright macabre.

While the church laments that the body of believers is growing older and grayer, I insist that without mobilizing this particular infantry of intellect, we have no way of motivating our younger folks to higher ideals.

Let me put it to you plainly—the baby boomers ended up having more baby in them than boom.

How unfortunate.

So if you happen to be over fifty years of age and have read to this point without becoming infuriated, let me make four suggestions on how to assist Planet Earth to achieve equilibrium instead of contributing to the general disarray:

1. Laugh at yourself. And again I say—laugh at yourself. Nothing is sexier and more attractive than someone who is fully aware of his or her limitations but has developed balanced thinking on those weaknesses, inserting good cheer from their hearts. Young people have too much angst. The fact of the matter is, if we’re going to have a lot of birthdays and high blood pressure, we should have the good sense to lower the other pressures.

2. Teach younger people that slowing down is not a matter of aging, but rather, an exercise in wisdom. Speed is the enemy of great decisions. “Fast” is what causes us to believe that we’re already smart—without the pursuit of outside sources of information. So make sure that when you choose to be slow, the end result is brilliance (and not forgetfulness.)

3. Offer your services to interact with young people. One of the best ways the church could flip our social structure and create newness of life is to have some hip sixty-year-old teach the teenage class and some emerging, brilliant twenty-year-old instruct the over-55’ers. It is this inter-mingling of generations that creates the awareness of what is necessary to produce human growth. Volunteer for the next pizza party at your youth group. Drop into a PTA meeting—even though you don’t have children. Force yourself to watch MTV or listen to the radio every once in a while. And stop being such a stick-in-the-mud. Lad Gaga is just this generation’s Madonna, who was a former generation’s Beatles, who was Elvis Presley before that and was embodied in Frank Sinatra in Great-Grandma’s time. All the parents hated all of them—which made the young people love them even more. Nothing scares a young human more than someone older who is hip to today’s culture. It stops them in their tracks.

4. And finally, admit to yourself that Christianity is a young movement, birthed by a young man named Jesus, whose disciples were probably all under the age of thirty—with a philosophy demanding the young mind-set of “loving your neighbor as yourself.” Nothing gives you the right to turn the gospel into a geriatric version. It is meant to be young and is for those who are still young in spirit and heart.

By the way, I finished my delightful conversation last night with my son feeling that there was no barrier between us, even though we are twenty-six years different in age. He reached into my world to be a little more astute because I reached into his world to be a bit more aware.

Beware wrinkled children—because they still pout, complain and are bratty—but are not nearly as cute.

Published in: on August 27, 2011 at 1:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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