I would like to take this time to thank everyone on behalf of my fellow sexagenarians and myself for calling us that (sexagenarians, I mean). I realize the sex in sexagenarians is a prefix meaning sixty, but it actually seems to give us a little extra credit for vim and vigor in our old age. It also lends credence to the recent axiom that says, “Sixty is the new forty.”
I don’t know how true that axiom happens to be, but I felt considerably better at forty. I had more energy and many fewer aches and pains.
Forty is Still Forty
I suspect forty is still forty, but who knows? You can’t ask the people who are actually forty—they don’t have anything else with which to compare it. I suppose it’s all what you make it.
Unless you’re some kind of amazing physical specimen with a tremendous workout regimen, you’re probably noticing a few chinks in you corporeal armor. Your metabolism may have slowed a bit, you’ve put on a few pounds, and your youthful physique is beginning to give way to the laws of gravity.
The other side of your life should be beginning to balance things out, however. By that I mean your emotional and spiritual components are more than making up for any physical deterioration. The maturation process works FOR you in these areas (unlike in the physical arena).
Body, Soul, and Spirit
The Apostle Paul made reference to these components of our lives in his famous benediction of 1 Thessalonians 5:23. There, he refers to us as beings comprised of body, soul, and spirit. Because we readily recognize the body (along with all its strengths, foibles, and weaknesses), we tend to concentrate on it—sometimes to the exclusion of the soul and spirit.
As you probably know, the term “soul,” is a reference to our emotional well-being. Our spirit—that part of us that is probably most akin to our Creator—is the real life force within us. Remove that, and we don’t exist as human beings.
Because we can’t readily see the soul and the spirit, we often ignore them. We feed and exercise the body—often with great care. At the same time, we allow our emotional and spiritual health to go down the tubes. At this time in our lives (as sexagenarians, etc.), things should be different.
Even as our bodies are slowing down, our emotional and spiritual states should be in hyper drive. In other words, we should be emotionally and spiritually stronger than ever. Though we are unable to contribute as much to society (in a physical sense) as we used to do, we have much more to offer in the other two areas. In those areas, the maturation process continues to work in our favor.
This all is predicated, of course, on the assumption that we’ve been exercising our emotional and spiritual muscles all along. If you’re just now getting started on those areas, you need to catch up. You’ve got something to contribute. Don’t blow it.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently the pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]