Why We Need Old People: The Gift of Perspective

The plethora of choices we make in life are exhilarating and frightening. Feeling overwhelmed by the steps we take to progress through life is normal.

Why We Need Old People The Gift of Perspective

In 1992, the movie Prelude to a Kiss (based on a play of the same title) debuted with an interesting twist of the Freaky Friday theme of two people switching bodies. The difference in this film is that the two people who switch are strangers: a young bride and an old man. Their own personal desires trigger this supernatural event. The old man looks at her as one with her whole life before her, and he desires this passionately. She, on the other hand, looks at his completed life with relief–the fear of failure and disaster having passed. The bride, afraid of life, wishes to have life behind her.

Though this movie and play are about 30 years old, the idea introduced here is not. While we can not have the magical change of bodies that occurs in the movie, we can have something even better–we can gain the perspective of those who have already done life.

Making Life Decisions Is Hard

We all have many decisions to make. We make choices about relationships, careers, homes, and hobbies. The plethora of choices is both exhilarating and frightening. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the steps we need to take to progress through life. Those who are older have a benefit those who are younger do not have. They have life experience that is layered. They know what it’s like to be a 10-year-old, a 20-year-old, a 30-year-old, and so on.  Those who young have a much more limited range.

These experiences provide an insight into life that we can benefit from. How did they make those big decisions in life? How has God worked in them and lead them? How did they get through the difficult times?

Related Post: Are You Ready to Take the Next Big Step in Your Life

As one who is now in my forties and is in many ways feeling like the best of me is waning, I’m coming to realize I still have so much more to give. I can offer my words of experience and hope. God has always seen me through. I can look back over my life and see His guidance through every step.

Find an Older Mentor

When you are young and every event feels enormous, it’s hard to imagine the bigger picture of life. Those who have been down the road have seen life after big events. They know marriage, they know deaths of loved ones, they know divorce, they know career change, they know seasons of spiritual growth and spiritual dryness. But, most importantly, they know what it is like to walk with a faithful God through the big and small events of every day.  For this reason, it is wise to find an older person whom you admire and reach out to them for guidance.

I remember once speaking with a teenage girl who was receiving different kinds of advice from different adults. I told her to look at their lives. Whose life does she respect? Whose life does she want her life to look like? This is a helpful tool when choosing a mentor.

The How-To of Making Life Decisions

Those big life decisions I’ve made over the years were made in a variety of ways. For those seeking His will, it’s easy to hope for a bright flashing sign showing your future. Instead, I can testify that God often speaks to us in his still small voice. We want God’s hand pointing the way when instead he says seek My face (Psalm 27:8). He never gives the whole journey; He gives the next step. In The Next Right Thing, Emily Freeman explains that

Rather than a life plan, a clear vision, or a five-year list of goals, the leper, the paralytic, and Jairus and his wife were given clear instructions by Jesus about what to do next–and only next.

If you are in the midst of decision-making and are not sure what God is up to, I can encourage you to not be scared. Instead, take the next step in front of you and walk with God. This may seem vague, but if you look at your life right now, you can probably identify the various steps you need to take to keep moving forward. Focus on taking this next step without fear. After all, the goal of life is not to arrive somewhere but to become someone and to know Someone.

With this hope, you won’t be like the bride who longs for it all to be behind her or the old man hoping for another chance. Instead, with the confidence of knowing that God is always with us (Hebrews 13:5), you can face the future (and the next step) without fear or regret.

Written by Tatyana Claytor

I am in love with story. As an English teacher, my life is centered around the stories throughout the ages, and, as a believer, my life is centered around the story of all time by the Author of all the ages. I love seeing God's truth all around me and using that to encourage and inspire people to draw closer to Him.

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