I’m blessed to have retired parents and friends. In watching them, I’m more and more convinced that I don’t want to wait another 30 years to do what they do now. While I’m pretty sure a full time career is still in my long term future, there are 5 little things I can do now:
1. Think of others and act on it – even in little ways: This weekend I was so tickled to get a note from my mom. She cut out an article from a newspaper about a Cubs player and how he, his wife, and 3 kids make their Christian walk, marriage, career, and family work. She saw it, knew I’d like it, and sent it to me. I love that. I don’t need to wait till I “have more time” to actively encourage people. I have 15 minutes and $.48 for a stamp now. This – and chicken and dumplings. My Mother in law who is almost at retirement 😀 has a knack for filling Tupperware with meals that make our life easier. Never underestimate the beauty of spaghetti or chicken and dumplings!
2. Deeply value 1 day at a time: Maybe it’s the maturity and the wisdom birthed through trials and persevering. Or the simple fact that they see more people dying to remind them how temporary this earthly gig is. Retired people appreciate each day. Each outing. Each smile, conversation and hug they exchange is a big deal. I used to romanticize that if you retire “right,” then you have a rite of passage to pick up and travel to far away lands, take exotic adventures, and savor the unordinary. My parents delight in a daily trip to the YMCA to exercise, their local McDonalds for coffee, and relish sales at their neighborhood market. This is beautiful to me. This is just as “right.” This summer, I’ve spent more time counting the simple blessings and less time wondering if I’m doing summer right. Have my kids been encouraged, nurtured, stretched, blessed with fun family memories? I think so, but I’m not stressing on it. Instead, I’m taking joy in us watering our flowers, reading to them, admiring the blue of their eyes, and delighting in fresh tomatoes from the garden. Let’s be honest, they may also have eaten too much junk food, watched too much television, and slept late. I’m okay with it. I’m trying to initiate devotion to my husband now. Don’t wait till you have an empty nest to give that extra love tap or lingering kiss. Do it now. We burst out laughing the other day when our 4 year old remarked that Mommy and Daddy are married a lot. We are not sure what that means exactly but are taking it as a good thing.
3. Don’t do Guilt: Make the best, prayerful decision you can. Have you noticed that older people have a little extra spunk about them? They make a decision and kindly don’t give two flying figs about whether you agree to it or not. Sure, I like to keep the peace, but I don’t want to take an entire lifetime to bury people pleasing. Be genuine, do what you want with God in mind, and leave it at that. Some people will get you, some will not. Don’t do Guilt.
4. Stewardship is a priority: Maybe it is the finite reality of a set income, maybe the remnants of good spending to help them get to retirement, but these people know their money. They know what they have, where it goes, how much wiggle room they have, and what to avoid. It is such a shame that younger people get so caught up in earning money that they simultaneously have very little idea where their hard earned money goes. Or they focus on big toys that in reality, continually take big money to sustain. How true it is that godliness with contentment is great gain! And this requires an attitude adjustment, not a PhD. I wish I was excited about all the fine print on the glossy 401k brochures, but I’m not. It may as well be a different language to me. The more I medidtate on this topic, the more I see that stewardship is not an all or nothing situation in that you are really awesome at it or not. There is value, quite literally, in each good, small decision. Good, small, daily decisions over the next 30 years will lead to retirement. (Even if I don’t understand the 401(k) conversations).
5. Rest is not a 4 letter word: Older people don’t feel a need to justify rest. Rhythms of rest look different to each family, and for each season of life. The more I think and pray about what works in our house, rest keeps coming up on the radar. Life is too precious to spend the next 30 years wondering if taking a nap, declining an invite, or scheduling for health is okay.