Comfortable clothes. Comfortable people.

DS in sweats at piano cropped

Back in the 1980s my dad showed up for the family picnic in a striped blue shirt, plaid brown shorts, black socks, and dress shoes. Looking at him in mild horror, I whispered to my wife to please never let me dress like that. Just the other day I glanced in the mirror as I went forth to meet the day. I drew in my breath sharply. Plaid shorts, American flag T-shirt, black socks, and sandals! Oh no! What happened? I was not only more stooped like my Dad used to be, but somewhere in the last ten years I apparently had a stroke in the part of my brain that controls good taste in clothes.

When you’re young it never occurs to you that someday you’ll walk differently or visit a podiatrist (“What’s a podiatrist?” we said.) When your energy levels are surging and body responds without a hitch every time, you cannot imagine stumbling along or have trouble getting out of a chair. And, I suppose, you never think that someday you might develop different standards for life that place a low priority on many of the things you’ve admired your whole life.

The older I get the more I find myself wearing comfortable clothing. I used to buy fashionable shoes, often from Florsheim; now they hurt my feet and I wear tennis shoes and gardening clogs. I wear socks all of the time (because my feet are cold) and my farmer’s tan now stops at my ankles. Sweatshirts and sweatpants do well around the house in the winter. I used to dress in the current style; but have you noticed what’s in style these days? All the stores in the mall cater to young people and, even I could find something I liked, it would not fit my body that long ago lost the fight with gravity.

I value clothes that fit easily. I wear clothes a long time, until they wear out, actually. Why spend money on new clothes when you’re on a fixed income and you have plenty of things to wear (even if the garments you think of as new were purchased ten or more years ago)? Let me assure my children, lest they worry, that I will not go out in public in pajamas and slippers or wear clothes so old they advertise Eisenhower for president (“Ike, Ike, he’s our man!”). Nor will my photo appear on the web site, “People of Walmart.”

Here’s my point: aging brings us far more benefits than liabilities, even as we lose vision and mobility. It has taken me a long time to be comfortable inside the body I have, and I want to keep that perspective.

What other perspectives have come with age?

  1. We are more accepting.

Here’s an example: we’re a part of a wonderful church where we are totally welcome as we are. The 8:30 a.m. service is one in which we sing old hymns and I play the piano (something I haven’t done since I was in high school). Acceptance in this group has been immediate and unconditional. At our potlucks we commiserate about back surgeries and unashamedly bring pillows to sit on. We pray for each other’s children and never think about whether what someone is wearing is fashionable or not. We’ve been through the war, sat at deathbeds, and cried over wayward family members. We’re survivors who celebrate life together and rejoice in our wonderful God, who loves us.

  1. Experience provides a clearer perspective

When you’ve lived a long time you understand what is valuable and what is not.

  • Friends, for example, are important. Popularity is not.
  • Family, both by blood and by choice, are priceless.
  • We listen to news broadcasts differently. Jesus said we would hear of wars and rumors of wars, that famine would come as would times of plenty. The important thing is that we belong to God and it’s his world. We won’t get out of it alive, anyway, and when we leave this world, a better one is waiting.
  • We value people with integrity and have no use for pretense, showmanship, or politicians who create their belief systems based on public opinion polls.
  1. We recognize true heroes.

The media loves to give attention to those who “accomplish” things. But is it an accomplishment to reach my one hundredth birthday or is that a genetic hiccup? I’m happy for those who are still running marathons into their eighties, but most of us can’t achieve this and it falsely labels youthfulness as success. Recently ABC aired a nationally televised awards program in which someone who had recently undergone surgery to switch sexes was given a standing ovation for heroism. Please!

The elderly see through this utter nonsense. We may use wheelchairs and Depends, but we know that heroes are motivated by a love for people and respect for truth.

We have made peace with our past.

The perspective of years helps you separate and discard painful experiences because we know they do not define who we are. Only recently did my wife, Karon, help me see that I still clung to put-downs and thoughtless hurts in the past. I now realize that nursing that pain only hurts me and not the persons who did those things. I have chosen to lay aside my victim mentality and no longer focus on the pain of my past, my failures, or poor decisions. We are so much more than abuse, job loss, or bullying.

Forgiving everyone in your life, even those now dead, will bring you unimagined freedom and joy. In the New Testament, Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive someone. Jesus answered in the vernacular of his day, “without number!”

I thank God for my past and everyone I’ve been privileged to meet. Some have brought me pain. Others have been uncommonly kind and generous. All have enriched me and helped to shape me as I am today. I thank God for his grace that forgives me and his endless love and optimism that ceaselessly encourage me day after day. Not everyone will like me, marvelous as I am. Life’s experiences continue to stretch me and build my faith. And tomorrow will be a wonderful day!

Aging

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David Shultz enjoys mountain views in Arizona where he lives with his wife and two dogs, Molly and Maggie.

42 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Really spoke to me today Dave. You have a gift to connect our humanness with our heavenly purpose. God bless always. Love keeping up with you and Karen from afar. (Prayers for Maggie.)

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  2. Hi Dave. I am warmed by the thought of you and Karon enjoying this time of your life. I stumbled on your blog through Facebook. I hope it’s ok I’m here and I hope it’s ok I reflect on a portion of your blog today that troubled me. Seems to me, heroes come in many forms. The things people have endured are uniquely their own. Personal. Spiritual in a sense. Holy Ground. The love of people and respect for truth that you speak of as a necessity in order to be a hero….just maybe…if we listen hard enough, we will hear the deep love represented in the words of the one honored as she spoke of other individuals and families that are hurting and need of acceptance and love. Maybe if we listen to her story we will hear the truth of her own very personal journey. And then maybe we listen to another family; another story. And maybe, just maybe, truth, courage, strength, grace, hope and love are all present…. and maybe God is at work and we aren’t even recognizing it. May God be with us as we continue to learn to listen to one another and to love as He loved us. Shalom.

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  3. Well said and insightful. Enjoyed the exploration and explanation of our normal aging process. It’s inevitable. We can choose to enjoy the living of life. You illustrated this beautifully in your writing. Thank you for inviting us into your journey.
    Terry

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  4. Dave, Thanks for sharing the journey of the retired. Gene and I are at Friendship Village of Dublin. Enjoying the retired lifestyle. We have slowed down in some things but are very busy in others. Awake some days with the need to be oiled like the Tin Man, but with much movement the joints oil themselves. I use to enjoy gardening but the body will not cooperate any more so enjoy the gardening of other. My 3rd floor living room window overlooks a butterfly and hummer garden with goldfinches and other birds… My work window is in the midst of 3 pine trees. Where the other day I was given the opportunity to observe a Cooper’s Hawk eat her dinner. Something larger than a vole or mouse. More like a rabbit or squirrel. This was a observation of 45 minutes. No blood and guts but a systematic dinning experience. We moved around but she kept focused on the issue at hand. I was very thankful that God created me as a child of HIS rather than a bird. Thankful for each day with or without pain. Grateful to still be HIS servant. Though no longer a part of the COG.
    Blessings to you and Karon. Think and pray for you often. Kay

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  5. I agree with your words in spirit, but my carnal nature sometimes still gets the best of me. I’m a work in progress and grateful for a patient Heavenly Father who reminds me of what is true and real about me & this broken world. Thank you for your perspective. I will “share” it on my Facebook page. Blessings to you & Karon.

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  6. What a treat to read your blog! You offer gems of wisdom and a perspective that is refreshing. I remember when our lives intersected at North Anderson Church of God back in ’83. I loved listening to you speak. I still enjoy listening to you “speak” here! God is using you in wonderful ways, Dave. Thanks for sharing your gift of communication 🙂

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    • Thanks, Marita. Our time together at North Anderson Church of God was a highlight of our lives and we thank God for those days. And God is still sending us wonderful days. He is so good!

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  7. Marita (johnson) just posted this on face book. I still enjoy your stories, and even quote messages I still remember. Repaint! You thinner!!!! I will be watching for more on your blog. God bless you and your family. Your forever congegant (sp?) Sallie Needham. Now living in St.Louis.

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  8. Would like to also receive your comments via email. Thanks Dave for your writings. And,… thanks for believing in me in a time of change back in 1989.

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    • Great to hear from you, Johnny! If you want an e-mail to alert you when I post another blog, go to the top of the blog post and look in the black margin bar. There should be an icon that says “follow” and you click on that. Hope it works. My love to Paula!

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  9. Dave, such a beautiful writing…I can relate! You were always my favorite pastor. I couldn’t write notes fast enough when you preached. You are the one and ONLY person who could ever get my dad in a church since he was young. He drove from Marion each week to hear you speak. He was in awe of you!

    It was refreshing and hopeful to see that you also struggled with faith at times…yet, it scared me too. You were placed by many on a pedestal so high…you seemed “perfect”. I loved that you were so open about your struggles…I remember you saying it felt like you were trying to keep a bunch of beach balls under the water. Your sharing made you more real…less perfect…and gave us hope that we too can experience similar situations…and still be loved by God.

    I absolutely hated when you left…yet your journey was yours to live. I truly believe you will never know how much you touched the lives of others until you hear God tell you what a faithful servant you were.

    Cindy Perry

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  10. Dave, I so much admire you for the stories you have shared. Of course, I think all pastors have a story to share, though perhaps not as devastating as yours have been. I so well remember that I once had a man, who didn’t attend our church, but told me in anger, “If it were up to me, I’d fire you and get a real Christian for a Pastor.” Later, this same man apologized when he learned that I had donated blood for his father who was in the hospital, dying. JC Sparks

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      • Dave, thanks for the note. I’m feeling better now, though still a ways to go. The coughing has resulted in larger areas of bruising on my left side, just below the rib cage, but it is fading now. I’m half-way through the meds and regemine the VA doctor has put me on, so I’m on the mend.

        As for the “Fire” you mention, the blessings are far more numerous than the problems, I say now, in retrospect. For example, our coming to Grand Junction has resulted in both Don and Janice recommitting their lives to the Lord, and now they have both gone on to be with the Lord. And Sherron and Len Walton (Alan and Pauline Norris’ daughter and son-in-law) are committed Christians and very active in their church. Makes it worth-while. So God has brought good out of the hard times, for which Phyllis and I praise the Lord. JC

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  11. David: I have enjoyed reading this blog. It has brought back a lot of memories. Some of my favorites relate to when I was able to cajole you at Warner to accompany me on the piano and I would take a stab at playing the horn. I am still playing. I guess I acquired such longevity from my father. In his latter years, we would frequently play duets in the nursing home in which he resided until he passed at 89. Memories of Warner seem to become more vibrant with time. I have had the honor and blessing of staying In touch with several students of our era. In some cases they have become like family. For many of us, Warner became a launching pad for life. It gave us role models, values and decision making skills that in my case provided a spiritual grounding that went with me to South East Asia as a Navy medic and then on to a couple of years on the aircraft carrier USS Constellation, CVA-64. After military service I returned back to Warner to finish my degree and then on to a couple of graduate school programs at Portland State University. Hope this finds you well. Tuesday, Danny Williams and I are going to play a round of golf. Wish you could join us. All the Best.///////// Lon Stratton

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