I recently attended a Kanuga conference entitled Encore! Spirituality for Life’s Second Act that discussed issues of faith as we age. Although the “second half” of life poses a variety of challenges, with the potential for disappointment, frustration and discouragement, our speakers were positive about the gifts inherent in this time of life.
Can diminishment be viewed as a gift? As defined by our conference presenters, Margaret Guenther and Alan Jones, it can. If our 20s, 30s and 40s are a time of acquisition, not just of possessions but also of status, career, relationships and identity, the opportunity to “diminish” can be freeing. We can unload some of the burdens of those earlier years — the stress of being defined by others, of “keeping up with the Joneses,” of fighting for our position in our company and industry. As we downsize not only our homes but also our lives, we can focus on being rather than doing.
Simplification invites us to embrace the joys and challenges of living in the moment. We can discover that loss is a part of saying yes to God’s new things. As we shed old identities that we no longer need, we are challenged to become something new.
Margaret Guenther emphasized that we cannot rush this transition from acquisition to downsizing. It will only arrive at the appropriate time in life.
I believe that older adults can help increase younger people’s understanding of and respect for the gifts of later life. As God’s evolving creations, we can share life lessons and encouragement from our journeys of faith. Sharing our stories can be a loving gift to our family, friends and faith community.
Want to learn more about sharing your story? Join me at the Christian Formation Conference at Kanuga this June. For more information, visit Kanuga Conferences.