Getting older…getting younger

April 9, 2008 | Conversion | 17 comments

My husband and I came across some old photos the other day. It was fun to take a trip down memory lane as we glanced through our pictures from a 2003 vacation, but I was surprisingly caught off guard when he made the passing comment, “We look a lot younger there!” We happened to be looking at a photo of me, and my initial reaction was to think:

I was younger there?

I did a quick double-take and noticed that I was indeed chronologically less old when I stood on that street in Prague. Yes, of course, what was I thinking? This photo was taken five years ago. I was not only younger, but also a few pounds lighter and more “carefree” with fewer responsibilities. And yet, the picture registered as if I were looking at a picture of an older, heavier, more burdened version of myself. How could it be, I wondered, that I could be five years older, fifteen pounds heavier, and have all the responsibilities of a wife and mother who just had her third baby in three years, yet look at this old picture and feel younger, lighter, and more free now than I did then? The one-word answer is this:

God.

Here’s the longer answer:

Sometimes I come across old pictures that bring back memories of times of difficulty; usually, as was the case with our 2003 vacation photos, old pictures bring back memories of laughter and love and good friends and good times. But one universal feeling I have when I look at photos from more than a couple years ago, no matter whether they were taken in times of challenge or joy, is a sense that this picture was taken in the wilderness. It’s a sense that, regardless of the actual location of the photo, I was standing in a no-man’s-land of trouble and even danger; that, unbeknownst to me at the time, I was carrying burdens I didn’t need to carry and wandering directionless across rough terrain when there was a marked path waiting for me. To the girl looking back at the camera, I feel like saying something like, “Hang in there.”

In the past couple of years since the beginning of my conversion I’ve gotten a couple more wrinkles, some new gray hairs, and am starting to feel some aches and pains that weren’t there before. Technically, I’ve gotten older. But I’ve also come to believe in God, and have begun to understand that my only purpose here is to know, love and serve him. And if to be younger is to be more full of life, more willing to love, less burdened by cares and worries, and somehow closer to the beginning of it all, then I am younger now than ever before.

17 Comments

  1. Abigail

    Nice post to read when I have just discovered that my grey hairs can no longer be “plucked out”! I’m feeling much younger and lighter post 30 as well.

    Where was the photo taken?

  2. Ashley

    That’s so beautiful and poetic.

    (and a gorgeous picture, too!!)

  3. Anonymous

    Hi Jen-It’s like the Velveteen Rabbit-When you become Real(i.e. when you truly love) you appreciate the bumps and bruises that helped you arrive there because you wouldn’t change where you are-God Bless!

  4. TwoSquareMeals

    As Dylan sings, “I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now.”

    Been enjoying your posts lately, even if I haven’t been commenting much.

  5. Kate

    Absolutely beautiful!

  6. Anonymous

    “None of this is contained in the Platonist’s books. Their pages have not the mien of the true love of God. They make no mention of the tears of confession or of the sacrifice that you will never disdain, a broken spirit, a heart that is humbled and contrite, nor do they speak of the salvation of your people, the city adorned like a bride, the foretaste of your Spirit, or the chalice of our redemption. In them no one sings — No rest has my soul but in God’s hands….

    It is one thing to descry the land of peace from a wooded hilltop and, unable to find the way to it, struggle on through trackless wastes where traitors and runaways, captained by their prince, who is lion and serpent in one, lie in wait to attack. It is another thing to follow the high road to that land of peace, the way that is defended by the care of the heavenly Commander. Here there are no deserters from heaven’s army to prey upon the traveller, because they shun this road as a torment.

    My God, let me be thankful as I remember and acknowledge all your mercies. Let my whole self be steeped in love of you and all my being cry, Lord there is none like you!”

    From the Confessions of Saint Augustine — you made me think of it. Jane M

  7. Heather

    younger selves and think what foolish people. We are definitely younger at heart than we were then–giving worry over to God helps a lot, as does not having the world on your shoulders. 🙂

  8. Anonymous

    I love your attitude! It is a good lesson to me to read your kind words for yourself…you have such wisdom concerning what is truly important in this life.

    Denise

  9. Rachel Gray

    I loved this post because in a lesser degree I’ve had the same feeling. I look at college years and my early twenties and think, “You’re so far from God and you’re squandering your life and you have no purpose, poor girl!” And I thank God for His mercy.

  10. Rosarius

    This reminds me of a photo I found recently of my sisters and I as kids. It made me smile and brought tears to my eyes at the same time, we looked so ’80s 🙂 I thought of how hard life was for my parents who struggled to make ends meet at the time, yet we looked so very happy.
    That kid had such a strong faith, which shattered after the abuse scandals of the 1990s. A faith that wouldn’t really return until 2005.
    God led me back to Him, even when my heart had grown so hardened against the clergy. That childhood faith was restored when I least expected it. So now when I see a photo of myself as a kid, I see one thing that hasn’t changed: simple faith in God.
    Your blog is very inspiring, glad I discovered it!

  11. Jenny

    Gorgeous picture! I can relate, it’s crazy to think back over all the years of “wasting the pretty” before God broke in and made His presence unmistakable.

    I can look at a picture of myself now, fresh from the gym in sweats and a t-shirt, sans makeup, and see beauty where before there was only an illusion of such.

    The false bravado, the desperate need for distraction, the busyness of life without Him was such an effort to maintain… Surrender to His will takes years off the soul as we become increasingly more childlike, and thereby increasingly more beautiful. Great post.

  12. coffeemom

    Great post! I agree totally. I am a cradle catholic but w/ the sad standard of ‘living away’ from it during my younger adult years. And it showed. I might have been physically younger but I was not happy and was angry a lot. Now I am older, middle aged even. And while I am not physically what I was, I am happier the older I get. It is my return to our faith and it’s riches, and finally being comfortable (due to that faith) in the skin I’m in and the life I’ve got. I agree w/ you totally, and w/ your permission I might link to this post in my blog too?
    Love your blog, always!
    Michele G

  13. Canaan

    Beautiful post….really beautiful. I can really relate. Your story is miraculous and fascinating and your writing is like a song. I am so glad to have found you in return!!

    Canaan

  14. Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience

    “When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
    Bright shining as the sun,
    We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
    Than when we’ve first begun.” ~Amazing Grace

    With God, we are getting younger indeed, just beginning eternity, we are.

    Poetic and thought-provoking, Jennifer…

    Grace and joy,
    Ann

  15. Anonymous

    +JMJ+

    oh, wow, i can *so* relate. i turned forty on december first… but i remember the days i never dreamed i’d see 25.
    now, in Christ, i’ve never felt so “young”. thanks for putting this so eloquently. blessings 2 U!
    xo,
    http://www.myspace.com/donna_ellis

  16. Kathy

    Hi, I just stumbled into your blog via finslippy and I find it to be very insightful and uplifting. Thank you!

  17. SuburbanCorrespondent

    Amen to that.

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