Aging With Grace: Flourishing in an Anti-Aging Culture Book Review
I’ve long said that there is a sad lack of older women who blog and write.
We’ve speculated over the reasons why women’s blogs go radio silent in the mid-life years here.
But today I’m here to tell you about Aging With Grace: Flourishing in an Anti-Aging Culture by Sharon Betters and Susan Hunt, two older women, and by older, I mean 70 and 80 years old.
(You can pre-order it before it’s release date of January 15, 2021, and you should because I personally think it’s one of the best books written this year because it’s a been there, done that book. These women have lived it all and still have a laser-sharp focus on God’s glory and eternity. )
Years ago, there was a radio segment by conservative radio host Paul Harvey called “The Rest of the Story.” It was always a delightful presentation of history, human interest stories, politics, religion, and humor, but the highlight was always the ending, with some plot twist, humorous tangle, or some touching unexpected happy ending.
That’s how I feel about this book. These women (and the other lovely contributing authors) have lived full lives and there’s no sugar coating, theorizing, or idealizing life in this short work. They acknowledge that life hurts and that in this world, you will surely have trouble. They have dealt with it all: marriage, the death of a child, the loss of a spouse, church glory days and church splits, financial crisis, failing health, being sidelined, broken relationships, and becoming bedridden.
This is no pollyanna book. It’s a book of Jesus’s overcoming grace.
Through it all, they speak of holding on to God’s promises so that even in old age, they do flourish and they tell us how as well.
” The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon…They still bear fruit in old age; the are ever full of sap and green.” Psalm 92:12, 14
Some favorite quotes:
“God’s grace is sufficient, and his grace is specific. When it’s time to age, he gives aging grace. When it’s time to suffer, he gives suffering grace. When it was Gene’s time to die, the Lord gave dying grace. And now he is giving me grieving grace.”
On the sometimes displacing changes that come with aging:
“Let’s be real–aging doesn’t feel very friendly. Change is disorienting, because we settle into our roles and responsibilities and they become our identity and purpose. And now we face almost daily changes of diminishing physical abilities and energy. We need something bigger and better to make sense of it all. We need an identity and purpose that transcends it all, which is exactly what God provides in the gospel.”
On being radiant women:
“When Moses was in the desert with a stiff-necked congregation (God’s description, not mine, Ex. 33:3), he prayed. Two of his petitions were, “Show me now your ways, that I may know you” and “Show me your glory” (33:13; 18). The only thing that could make sense of Moses’s situation was knowing God and seeing his glory.
God replied: “I will make all my goodness pass before you” (13:19). Then God hid him in the cleft of a rock and passed by, proclaiming the goodness of his own glorious character:
“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love [hesed and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.”
And Moses’s response? He “quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped” (Ex. 34:6-9).
The result? “Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God” (Ex. 34:29). Moses’s circumstances did not change, but Moses changed. He grew in his knowledge of God’s character, he worshiped, He and he reflected God’s glory to stiff-necked people.”
The topics in this book are varied,
- from being women who are encouraging life-givers rather than life-takers,
- to accepting God’s sovereignty in the hard times and seeing them as open doors to new ministries and opportunities,
- to seeing the big picture opportunities to influence the attitudes of the people you are called to minister to. She warns about aging bitter.
She warns about being part of the DOLC–the Domineering Old Ladies Club, a hysterical description of a miserable, controlling clique. She tells of the unhappy results of nursing disappointments for decades and becoming life-takers to individuals from whom you’ve chosen to withhold love. She discusses the pitfall of thinking you’ve “earned the right to say what you want to say,” and warns against pursuing those carnal manifestations of the flesh/sin nature. She implores you to trust God’s providence in your life over and over again and to pursue His glory in everything.
They ask many heart-opening questions like “How are you traveling heavenward?” and it includes Susan’s familiar six questions for counseling that she’s used and shared over the years of speaking and teaching, including “What will it mean for you to submit to God’s authority and glorify him as a life-giver?”
In all, the personal stories really affected me. I cried through parts which I rarely do in a book. It gave me fresh vision and encouragement, and a desire to pray “Lord, give me a stubborn faith!” over again.
I’ve already given this pre-release book to a dear mentor to read, and I plan to buy several copies after its release for several older ladies in their sunset years who may need a reminder that God isn’t done with them yet. If you have a Christian older woman in your life, this book will be a huge blessing to them and you! You can pre-order it here.
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