319 – Renewing Your Inner Person as You Age

This Week on Soul Talks

As we get older, sometimes we wish those numbers would go in the other direction! We might even be feeling discouraged in a culture that idolizes youth. But when we lean in, we see that this is actually contradictory to what Scripture says about the eternal and the abundant life of God in us!
Tune into this episode of Soul Talks, where Bill and Kristi explore how God’s Word guides us in our aging experiences. You’ll be so encouraged to learn about the hidden, eternal glory of God’s presence and growing in Christlikeness that transcends your physical limitations and pains as you age!

Resources for this episode: 

Renewing Your Inner Person as You Age Transcript

Bill & Kristi Gaultiere

Kristi 

Welcome friends. Thank you for joining Bill and I for this Soul Talk conversation. We are so thankful for you. 

What a privilege and a joy to follow Jesus together, to be growing and learning together. 

As we follow him in discipleship and share this life in his Kingdom. 

Today, we’re gonna follow up on our podcast last time with Alice Fryling and talk about aging faithfully. 

How are you working that out Bill? Personally, in your life today?

Bill 

Well, I’ve just celebrated a birthday recently. 

And those of you who are listening know, as we get older, sometimes we wish those numbers would go the other direction! 

We want to recapture some of those earlier years.

Kristi 

You never thought you’d feel that way. 

I remember when we were first married, you couldn’t wait till you had some gray hairs.

You thought when I’m older, I’ll get more respect. Nobody respects you because, “I’m so young.”

The Trials of Getting Older

Bill 

Yeah. 

As a young therapist, there was one time somebody came in to meet with me.

And he just turned and walked right out and said, “I was expecting somebody older.” 

And it’s like, he did not wanna even meet with me. 

Or people would say, “Well, how are you gonna help me?” Yeah.

I guess I had a young face. 

And so yes, as a young person, professional, late twenties, early thirties, I always wanted to be older.

But then there comes a time where you wanna recapture those younger years. 

I remember playing basketball as a boy in high school and in college.

Basketball is my favorite sport to play. And remember the experience. 

I think it was in my mid-thirties where I would have in my mind the visions and images of feelings of when I was younger.

And what I could do on the basketball court. 

I would just see myself doing it and I would go to do it, but I couldn’t do it. 

I couldn’t jump aside. I couldn’t move the same way. 

I couldn’t make that shot the same way, especially in the competition of a game.

It was so discouraging. 

It didn’t matter if I did lots of exercises and jumping rope to get my leg strength up for playing basketball. 

It didn’t.

I couldn’t do what I would envision that I could do because I was past my physical prime. 

And that just sort of continues as we get older and we see wrinkles, sags, aches and pains. 

And difficulties sleeping and maybe health challenges and problems that are much worse than this. 

And so it can be really discouraging. 

And so we look in the mirror and we try to make ourselves look younger. 

And we remember the days from before, and we want to be back there. 

On one hand, that’s natural as part of the grieving process that goes with the loss of some of our physical capacities and attractiveness. 

Especially in a culture that so idolizes youth.

Yet there’s something about that. 

That is like, we really are not cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit in our life and the wisdom and teachings of the Scriptures about our life being eternal. 

So I’ve been meditating because sometimes I hear myself say, “Oh, I’m not gonna mention how old I am.” 

Or making comments that come out of this place of regret and this place of looking at myself as a physical being and wanting to be younger. 

But I’m devaluing the eternal life and the abundant life of God in me. 

And the fact that I’m increasing in spiritual substance or I can be in the process of aging. 

And so I love in Second Corinthians Four (2 Cor. 4) where Paul, I think he’s working this out himself because he’s writing to us from the standpoint of trials, persecutions, and sufferings that he’s experiencing. 

Being hard-pressed in his work as an Apostle and a church planter.

And just the stress of that and the challenges of making decisions and the weight of that.

And traveling dozens—even hundreds—of miles on journeys of missions that he was going on. 

And the wariness that would go with that and the difficulty sleeping, and the experience of being stoned. 

He was stoned to death and had a pile of rocks on top of him. 

And everybody thought he was dead, his enemies in particular. 

But after they walked away, he pushed away the stones and cleared the dust off himself. 

And he walked on. 

And he was still alive, but he was beaten up from that and going through shipwrecks and so many things that he experienced that were extremely taxing on his body. 

The Loss and Grief of Aging

Bill

And he wasn’t a young man anymore as he’s writing to us in the New Testament. 

So he says, 

“Therefore… we did not lose heart… Though outwardly, we are wasting away…” (2 Cor. 4:1 + 2 Cor. 4:16)

Physically, in my body and what you can see—Outwardly, I am wasting away. 

Yet inwardly, we are being renewed day by day, inwardly or spiritually. 

We can be renewed day by day. 

“For these light and momentary afflictions are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Cor. 4:17)

Wow, there’s a hidden, invisible, eternal, glory of God’s presence growing in Christlikenes, that has a weight or substance to it. 

That’s beyond the physical limitations and pains that can feel so weighty, but there’s this other weight. 

So he says, “We fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but what is unseen for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  (2 Cor. 4:18)

So I’ve been meditating on that and trying to reformat my thoughts and my feelings, my attitudes, and my view of myself. 

What I see when I look in the mirror. 

To see if I can’t see the smile of Jesus, the shine of Jesus, the glory of God. 

And to see if I can’t value my growth in character, my Christ-likeness that goes with me into heaven.

And value that so much that it’s more important to me than the loss of my physical abilities or energies.

Kristi

So you’re aware of your physical declines. 

You’re seeing those, you’re tempted to feel a lot of grief and sadness about those, but it’s helping you to remember the greater truth of your eternal life in Christ— the spiritual substance. 

And that’s helping you to take hope and courage to face the physical losses, the realities that are hard in aging,

Bill 

Again, it’s the integration of the feelings and the faith. 

Kristi 

So both. That’s what you’re saying there, that’s really key. 

You’re saying there it’s being honest and doing the grief work and the acknowledging, the accepting work of, “I’m aging.” 

I don’t have the strength, the energy, the prime physical abilities that I used to have. 

And when I look in the mirror, I’m not looking like I used to, and I’m feeling grief about that. 

So it’s letting yourself process that grief and that loss, and feel it. 

Not just stay stuck in the loss and the grief.

The Hidden Dimension

Bill 

Yeah. And the way I don’t get stuck in that is when I’m emotionally honest with you or with a friend, and I can go deeper than just complaining about it. 

It’s natural to complain and make comments. 

But the real point is to dig underneath that a little bit and use some feeling words. 

It’s how I feel sad. I miss the ability to run faster or to play basketball. 

I miss the energy I had before. 

I miss the way I looked before and the way people responded to me.

And I wish I didn’t have these wrinkles. 

Those kinds of things where I can do some grief work there and be emotionally honest and receive empathy. 

That helps me to let go. 

It helps me to be the age I am, to be in the day today.

And then it makes for fertile soil in my heart to receive the truth of God’s word. 

Sometimes what we do is we go to Scripture and we read truths or we listen to a message or read a book and then we get some ideas and then we just kind of use them to shove our emotions down. 

And we’ll judge how we feel like, “Well, gee, I shouldn’t be complaining about aging because that’s not very Godly.”

And we don’t realize underneath that complaint is the sadness or the fear of getting more vulnerable. 

So it’s important to pay attention to what I’m complaining about.

And then express the emotions and the needs, the losses, that are underneath that and then receive empathy and grace. 

That helps us to be stronger in our faith so that the truth of God’s word can actually root itself in there.

And so that’s what I’m doing now is I’m meditating on Second Corinthians Four (2 Cor. 4).

Even this morning while I was going out for a run and I’m going over those verses again and again, 

“Therefore we did not lose heart though outwardly we’re wasting away yet inwardly we’re being renewed day by day. Where these light and momentary afflictions are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 

So we fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but what is unseen” (2 Cor. 4: 16-18).

As I meditate in those scriptures —as I pray those scriptures and spin them off into personalized prayers from my life and my experience in my emotions — it’s shifting my personality, my identity, where I’m rooted and where I’m grounded. 

So I’m not just rooted and grounded in this visible world. 

Yet, that’s part of my life. My body is an essential part of my life.

But then there is this hidden dimension to my life with Jesus, in the Father’s world. 

And it’s an eternal life and I actually am increasing in this weight of glory. 

My apprehension and experience of this is growing. 

So there is more substance, more heavenly substance, to my personality.

Or there can be through my walk with Jesus. 

I’m recalibrating my attitudes and my identity so that I’m living from the hidden place with Jesus in the Kingdom of God.

Our Sure Hope

Kristi 

So you’re setting your mind on that truth, on that eternal focus like Colossians Three says, “Set your mind on things above…”  (Col. 3).

You’re doing that. 

You’re getting hope in this eternal reality, but you’re not using that to shut down the emotions and the grief. 

You’re doing both.

The work of acknowledging—the grief work— and the loss now, and you’re letting that lead you into this other sure hope also.

Bill 

Yes. Then the truth of God’s word can inspire us and inspire some positive emotions of hope, love, joy, peace, and confidence. 

In a way where those emotions have more rootedness in our personality and more endurance, more enduring power. 

Because sometimes we just take insights and truth and we use it to try to force ourselves into a positive attitude.

Kristi 

Yeah. I think a lot of people would say, 

“Well, just don’t think about your age. And don’t think about the losses. 

Don’t mourn. Just don’t worry about it. Just be happy that you’re growing in spiritual substance.”

Bill 

We think, “Oh my feelings are getting in the way of my faith, my Godliness.

And it’s actually the exact opposite. 

If we will take the time to work those emotions through, with the support of someone who is listening and praying for us, then we actually have an opportunity for a greater intimacy with God.

In a more robust and deepening experience with God’s word. 

Where it’s actually integrating into the depths of our personality through our emotions.

Rather than being put on top of our emotions to sort of get them down and out of sight or whip them into shape.

Kristi 

Remember Bill, many times we would hear Dallas Willard teach about how aging is an important part of our discipleship to Jesus. 

And that age is an important part for us, to actually help us live in the Kingdom of God.

Bill 

Yeah. He would say that aging is not just a loss, it’s actually a gain because of what we’ve been saying from Second Corinthians Four and Colossians Three. 

There is this unseen spiritual world that is real and is not only waiting for us when we die, but it is coming right down here to where we are now. 

We can breathe that air. 

We can feel that presence of God and we can interact and integrate our life with Jesus the Risen One.

Aging is part of Discipleship to Jesus

Kristi 

Well, and I think too, it helps me in the Triangle of Transformation, in the Easy Yoke book (Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke) that we write about not wasting and throwing away our trials, but actually using those to lean into our discipleship with Jesus. 

I think aging helps me to do that. 

It helps me. 

I mean, there is a temptation to just throw away that trial of aging. 

But I think, as I take heart from that I realize, no, this is part of my discipleship to Jesus. 

It helps me to let go of things that are temporary. 

Things that I get attached to in this life and this earth, and to value more the eternal and that ongoing interactive relationship with Jesus.

Bill 

Yeah. Aging is a continual trial. 

Once we probably hit around 40 or something like that, pretty much every day, we’re gonna have some realization that I’m not at my physical prime anymore

So to be emotionally honest, that’s an opportunity. 

In the Triangle of Transformation, this is from our book, Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke, the three points of that triangle are believing Jesus’ gospel, worshiping God (being enthralled with Jesus and his father and accepting the trials of daily life as an opportunity to trust God and to trust people— to be emotionally honest). 

And the third point is practicing spiritual disciplines as means of grace.

And those three work together. 

Those are the three things that we can do in our discipleship with Jesus to become more like Jesus.

Kristi

I think that’s what you were doing as you were meditating on this passage.

You were treasuring Jesus,nthralled with Jesus and His Kingdom.

Bill 

Now I was doing that through Paul  and the way Paul was enthralled with Jesus. 

Kristi 

And then you were feeling your aging and how you feel about your upcoming birthday and how it feels to be in your body at this age. 

Knowing that you’re not getting any younger, and then you were practicing this spiritual discipline of scripture memory and meditation.

Bill 

Yes, that’s right. Yep. We’re just working through that triangle.

Kristi 

And now you’re working through it again with another spiritual discipline of having a Soul Talk about it.

Bill 

And we often have these kinds of conversations because it just helps me in my prayer life. 

It helps me in my faith to be emotionally honest with you. 

And so it’s fun to share that with you who are listening.

And we just so appreciate having you in our community and just knowing that you listen with grace and you learn.

We really appreciate your feedback on what you’re receiving from Soul Shepherding and questions that you have. It’s always a joy for us.

And the biggest joy is when we get to be with you, if we could speak at your church or best of all, have you in our Institute, we just love doing the five day retreats with you.

Kristi

We have a couple new cohorts that are starting this year, too. So check those out at  soulshepherding.org.

Bill

You can earn a certificate in the ministry of Spiritual Direction, which is a life-changing ministry for you and the people around you. 

As you learn how to really listen with empathy and guide people with spiritual wisdom in things like the CHRIST stages of faith from the Journey of the Soul.

And really understanding what stage people are in and how to listen differently. 

How to care for them, where they are and how to guide them in their journey of discipleship, even through The Wall.

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