Does growing old bring dread into your heart? Have you ever wondered how aging gracefully looks like? Join Kelly as she chats with Aunty Janet on what growing old means to her and how our church is able to support the seniors in our midst.
by Kelly Lim
Aging is a natural process that everyone experiences. As we age, our bodies and minds undergo changes; changes that affect our physical appearance, our moods, our relationships, and how our bodies handle illnesses or disabilities. We cannot avoid aging but we can control our response and attitude towards it.
In this image-obsessed world and its relentless pursuit of youth (and the associated meaning of wealth and beauty), the mere mention of “growing old” carries a dreadful connotation of death and loss. However, as Christians, we need to rememberthatlifeandlongevityare good gifts from God. As Paul said in his letter to Timothy: “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6); therefore, we should receive each day with thanksgiving and commit it into His hands.
As Proverbs 19:20 goes: “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future”, I cornered Aunty Janet Tan of Sunday Worship Service one morning to gain some elder-wisdom.
A retired teacher who taught Art for decades, Aunty Janet has an amazing memory. She rattled off names and designations, sequence of events long past, dates and many other details. Despite a chronic shortness of breath, this 72-year old had the un agging energy to relate many humorous and inspirational stories. She shared personal testimonies of God’s power of healing and of being saved from blindness.
On 5 December 1981, I experienced a rebirth during the Life in the Spirit Seminar at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. I was baptised in the Holy Spirit and broke into tongues. It was an exhilarating experience – I felt alive, new and clean. It sparked a heightened consciousness of sin in me and a desire to know Jesus. On that same day, the fear of darkness totally left me. After that, my family joined a cell group that was already worshipping in COR and my cell leader invited us to this church.
Can you share with us some of your experiences with God’s miracles and favour?
On 28 May 2000, I attended the Times Square Church evening service in New York City. I noticed a woman next to me, weeping uncontrollably. The Lord flashed into my mind Isaiah 49:25 and He wanted me to show it to her. When she saw the Bible, she exclaimed that God had answered her problem. I was puzzled and totally clueless. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine that that verse meant everything to her. Rosa Mosco and I have been close friends since then.
The Lord healed my frozen shoulder after a couple prayed for me on 11 September 1981. I had endured that painful condition since January that year. I was stricken with acute angle closure glaucoma in my left eye on 1 July 1996. The pressure of 68 points was probably the highest in Singapore and many glaucoma patients with much lesser eye pressure have lost their sight. It has been 21 years since the incident and my sight is as good as ever. I thank God for His protection.
On 31 December 2013, I underwent total kneecap replacement surgery. After the anesthesia wore off and the drips were removed, I didn’t experience any pain at all – much to the amazement of the anesthetists.
The Lord is amazingly good and worthy of all praise!
Which part of aging affects seniors the most?
Of course we are very affected by the physical changes because we cannot do the things we used to do. I get breathless easily and this affects my mobility. But I think the most challenging part about aging is the emotional effects.
What are some of the emotional issues seniors usually experience?
Growing old can be a lonely time with children scattered, spouse and friends gone. Seniors often feel that we lack support and it can lead to self-doubt and perhaps, depression. Christian seniors might also question God and wonder what is His purpose for us.
To prevent a sense of loneliness, we must socialise and avoid becoming isolated. We should continue to learn new things and stay active. It is a good thing that our church started the Olive Tree Ministry for seniors.
Another area that I feel the church community can help is to offer physical support to seniors who require help with mobility. For example, providing seniors with transportation to their medical appointments.
Do you have any words of encouragement for your fellow seniors?
To my contemporaries, I think that you will be limited as long as you limit yourselves and your thinking. Currently, I have a health issue but I know my God supplies my every breath so with all that I have experienced, I can only testify that He is a good and faithful Father who loves us so much.
We should reciprocate His love by reaching out to others and participating actively in evangelism as we were saved to help others know who our Saviour is. I have now joined Wallis Sultan in his monthly outreach in town and our church’s street evangelism on the last Saturday of each month.
As the interview drew to an end, Aunty Janet eagerly pressed a book about street evangelism into my hands. I admire her hunger to experience God even though she is a senior. Despite the physical challenges that come with aging, her mind is still amazingly keen. She declares with unwavering conviction, “He gives me every breath!” Her positive attitude towards aging and her trust in God truly inspires me.
I am convinced that the key to aging gracefully lies in our response to God’s life-giving grace bestowed upon us each day, no matter the length of time we have on earth. As a church family, we can help to alleviate some of their struggles through small acts of kindness and love, such as spending meaningful time with an elderly loved one, having thoughtful conversations with them, or even lending an arm for support. God breathes into every life purpose, hope and love – lessons never too old to learn.
Kelly grew up in COR and has family members spread across the different services. She is filled with respect and gratitude towards the many seniors in COR who set inspiring examples of faithful and humble service.
This article first appeared in Issue 17, November 2017 CHORUS Magazine.