I’m on my way to becoming an old man. I don’t think I’ve gotten to the “Old Man Stage” yet, but I’ve probably lived a full one-third of my life. (I’m 57. You do the math and see what you think!) Regardless of how long I live, I’m certainly on my way. And it has me thinking about the kind of old man I want to be.
Having known my share of grumpy, contrary and ornery old rascals, I can say with some assurance that their path doesn’t look appealing. In their wake lies a slew of hurt feelings, broken relationships and angry interactions. They don’t like other people. They don’t even like themselves. Their countenance screams, “Get off my lawn!” Unappealing indeed.
On the other hand, I’ve seen some of the sweetest, kindest and most pleasant older men imaginable. I like the looks of their path. They seem to be having a great time despite the difficulties that come with old age. They laugh a lot, have plenty of friends and inspire others. Their countenance beckons, “What can I do for you?”
It seems the difference between grumpy old men and pleasant old men is something more than circumstances. They both have problems. They both get arthritis and grow bushy eyebrows and crackle when they get up. It must be more than that. They’ve both known grief and hurt and pain.
The difference seems to be a choice of attitude. Some choose to be grumpy while others choose to be kind. Some choose bitterness; others choose forgiveness. Some choose anger and others choose love. Same circumstances with different attitudes.
It may be easier to be grumpy. It doesn’t take much effort to do that. But the easy way isn’t always the right way or the best way or even the most fulfilling way. Better, I think, to choose the kind way. Choosing the right attitude seems to be key to becoming the right kind of old man. (Or old woman, but I’m staying out of any discussions involving the ages of women!)
The bible says, “Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) It tells us to “adopt” the attitude. I’m deciding what kind of old man I will be by choosing my attitude. And, we even have a model of the right attitude- the Lord himself!
Whether you are young or old, you have a role in determining your future. You can’t control everything about old age. Maybe your eyes will fade and your hips wear out. But you can decide the attitude with which you will face that future. Why not choose to be a kind old man?
There are enough grumpy ones already!