I wake each morning in pain in several different areas of my body. At 63 years old, I have come to realize just how quickly your body can decline, especially if you don’t start taking care of it early on. I wasn’t raised knowing that eating right and exercise would extend you life. Unfortunately none of my foster parents or mother ever taught me anything about this. We had three meals a day that we were expected to eat, a snack once in a while if it was affordable or if it was a special occasion, and candy once in awhile if we earned an allowance. (Proverbs 22:6 Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.)
Sure, we ran around, played outside, climbed trees, rode horses and such, so we got a lot of exercise. None of us ever turned out to be obese. Yes,we put on weight once in awhile, as we got older, sometimes from pregnancy, other times from bad habits like alcohol and being sedentary, but for the most part both my sisters and I were on the thin side.
As I have gotten older, I have learned that there are habits you need to form, that you need to pass on that can extend your life, and these aren’t just the habits of eating right, exercising, staying away from alcohol and drugs, but daily habits that affect your spirituality, your emotional well being and your belief in God. ( Job 12:12 Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.)
As I sat out on the porch this morning with my coffee, which is my habit on days that the weather is nice, I watched the sun trying to peak through some clouds to the east of me and listened to the birds chirping and singing in the trees in the front yard. Even though I ached, and hadn’t yet taken any of my meds, I thought what a wonderful life I really do have.
I love living in this small community where rural life rules, where your neighbors are far enough away you can’t see into each others windows, where there is room for the elements of nature to impose themselves into your hearing and sight everywhere you turn. I love this place, where there is not high-rise apartment buildings or businesses, where there is no building over four floors high and you can actually look out any window of your house and see the trees and skies.
This little town, where there is the lack of concrete structures stuck up against each other, where there is no crowd of people pushing and shoving in their hurry to get from one place to another, where there are only two traffic lights in the whole town, and the jail is a converted, metal outbuilding, where you can walk around the square in 5 minutes flat, and everyone waves and smiles at you, even if they don’t know you, gives me the peace and comfort I’ve needed in my life for such a long time.
Now as I write this, I realize just how much I missed out on the little blessings in life that can be had, free of charge, if you just slow down and take the time to notice them. I didn’t spend as much time with my son as I should have when he was younger, but that was through the wrong choices I made in my life. Getting us involved for years in an abusive situation, having to work nights and double shifts or two jobs did a lot of damage, not just to me but him as well.
Again, I didn’t spend as much time with my grand kids as I should have before I moved here. Yes, I took them to church and they had the occasional sleep over at grandma’s house, but again I chose to work long hours and sometimes for two different places, when I should have been taking them to the park, or a carnival or for a ride in the country.
I am in touch with all of them, sometimes on a daily basis, and while they go through tough times, there is nothing I can do to ease their circumstances except give them advice and pray. We all have to learn tough lessons as we grow up and grow older, and we can’t always blame them on other people. Sometimes they are the result of another person, and often they are the result of our own failures, our own bad decisions, and our own actions and attitudes.
Many great people have emerged from abusive situations, from the ghetto, from poverty and many who have started out on the wrong foot pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and made their life and the lives of many more better. (1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”).
To the young people, middle aged people and old timers, I will say this. Learn from the mistakes that others make, but learn the right lessons. Learn not to make the same mistakes. Always be honest, always be kind, always be helpful, always be friendly, learn respect for others and find a goal to work toward.
Choose your friends wisely. Don’t hang out with hoodlums, drug addicts, alcoholics or liars. Find a church or youth group and get to know Jesus. You can achieve anything you want and you’ll feel great when you do it yourself and don’t take it from others. You can be a professor, a doctor, a social worker, an advocate for human rights, a politician or start your own business, but you have to learn to rely on God for strength, direction and making choices. (2 Corinthians 9-11 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.) (Philippians 4:13I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me)
It is never too late to change your habits. Get some exercise, for the body and the mind. Read books, especially the Bible. You’d be surprised at some of the stories and information in there. Eat healthy foods, and stay away from all the substances that can hurt your body, change your thinking and eventually change your actions. (Proverbs 23:21 For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags. )
Reach out and grab the peace that is available in nature. Take hikes, walks, drives in the country. Look at the trees, the sky, listen to the birds, watch the insects going about their daily life and drink in the fresh air that isn’t polluted with the exhaust of cars and the waste from factories. Actually look at the beauty in this world that God created, not the man made buildings, technologies and habitats that block out the natural things of this world.
Spend time with your loved ones. Make memories that can be shared for a life time. Don’t become the crotchety old grandparents that can’t stand the noise that children make. Don’t become the parents that don’t have time to do things with their children or with their elderly parents. Life has so much to offer if you make the decision to make the right choices.