I have to admit, when the book “50 Shades of Grey” first came out, I thought it had something to do with hair coloring. Now there is a movie, and I am pretty sure it has nothing to do with old age. After all, gray hair doesn’t sell many books or movie tickets.
But all the box office buzz this past weekend got me thinking about how we treat people with gray hair. Society seems much more interested in glorifying youth.
Proverbs 16:31 says, “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.” As a reluctant member of the gray hair club, I like this verse. But I’m just a ‘baby boomer’. I was actually thinking about those we refer to as ‘the greatest generation’. That would include my 95 year old father-in-law, David Maas.
Grandpa Dave has lived in our home for the past four years or so. He has severe dementia, and all our friends and family know how difficult it has been for us to care for him 24×7. But we have a profound appreciation for the impact and testimony of his life. He is greatly loved by all who know him. I have personally known him for nearly four decades. His gray hair has truly been gained by living a godly life.
Knowing all that, I still find myself less patient than I should be in caring for Grandpa Dave. The daily burdens can blur my perspective. So it is humbling to me that my two young sons have taught me the most about patience, and about treating the elderly with honor and respect.
Elijah would frequently be the one who gently walked grandpa back to his room at night to settle him back into bed. Isaiah will sit with grandpa and respectfully allow him to talk about things that no longer make for meaningful conversation. Elijah would ensure that grandpa was nicely fed when we couldn’t be there to make his meals. Now Isaiah is doing that for grandpa as well.
I’m thrilled that they honor the elderly, as stated in Leviticus 19:32. “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God.”
Everyone of us hopes to live a long life, surrounded by loved ones, and wearing our gray hair as a crown of glory. And yet we continue to celebrate youth. We color the gray, and we try to hide the wrinkles. Elijah didn’t have the chance to grow old and gray. Most of us will. And God willing, we will enjoy every shade of gray along the way.
Maybe it’s time that we took the time… to embrace our gray. And to embrace the graying elders among us.
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