by Cindy Hester

Grab a cup of coffee, and let’s talk. I have to be honest, my heart is a kaleidoscope of emotions. I would love to tell you I have it all together, that my family is perfect, my house is spotless, my dogs never have accidents on the rug, my husband and I always agree, and we always have spontaneous, adventurous weekends full of joy after a hard week of work. I could tell you this, but this is not a work of fiction.

The truth is, I am three months shy of my fifty-ninth birthday, struggling to come to terms with why my metabolism has all but stopped and my muscles have turned to mush. I am automatically offered the senior citizen’s discount when eating out. My hands are beginning to show the signs of arthritis. One pinky has begun to point off to the right and my pointing finger knuckle is a little thicker than it used to be. Oh, and I can predict the weather by how painful the joints in my hand are. (Who am I?!?!) My hair is proudly turning silver – one of the parts of aging I actually don’t mind. I need to begin working out, yet I find myself sitting nine hours a day at a computer, working toward the hope of retirement so maybe I can work out!!

I then begin to play the comparison game. I have found this to be a cruel competition with no winners. Some seem to have it all. Some never appear to age. Others seem to have endless energy. Some keep a spotless house that looks like it came straight out of a magazine. Others make a hobby out of exercising.

Hearing so many praise Jennifer Lopez’s perfect body at fifty, I begin chastising myself and slip into a deeper pit of self-loathing. My mind is overtaken with ‘what ifs’ I cannot control. What if someone younger, brighter, and more attractive comes along and takes my job? After all, even with all of the equality practiced these days, young and attractive still gets one far. What if my husband is disappointed with me? What if I never get the weight off? Have I completely passed the attractive phase of life? What if, instead of just going blank in the middle of a sentence not being able to recall the title of a movie, I completely lose the ability to think clearly and intelligently?It is then enticing to overcompensate in an attempt to become someone God did not create me to be. It is tempting to compete.

It was in the midst of one of my these unhealthy, toxic spirals of insecure thoughts that God spoke so clearly to me yesterday morning. He grabbed my attention so starkly I fell to my knees in prayer, begging His forgiveness and crying out for His deliverance from this stronghold. He sent me to a scripture I had read a few days before. It is written in The Message translation, and speaks so directly to what I needed from the Holy Spirit.

“So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you.” 1 Peter 5:7 MSG

A sense of peace overtook me. You see, God is working within us, bringing out things we need to let go of in order to be fully ready to be used by Him. These insecurities did not just come along with age. They are there as the result of many circumstances. Age is simply the newest phase of life triggering these responses. God is in the process of transforming me, bringing me to a place of repentance for placing my value and worth in something other than Him. He created me. He created each phase of life, and the good work that He has begun in me He will see through to completion. I may have to pray over this issue again, but I also know it holds less of a power over me than it did before.

You may be facing your own set of insecurities. I want you to find comfort in the fact that you do not have to be perfect to seek God’s face. He wants you just as you are. It is only through Him that true, lasting change takes place in the spirit and the heart. I pray you can find the peace that comes from knowing God’s strong hand is upon you, and you can live carefree before God, because He is most careful with you.