Thoughts on Retirement, Hope, Love, and Plucking Thorns

Last Friday was Valentine’s Day, and this week Alan and I are celebrating our 47th anniversary! In addition, we will both be turning 70 this year. Even though we are staring down inevitable retirement before too long, we are both feeling very vivacious and so are full of hope that there will be “life after retirement” and a future that will include all the things my father used to say were the essential ingredients for “the good life of all VIPS” (that’s all of us) . . . that our lives should be Varied, Integrated, Productive, and Social.

My father was not a professing Christian at that point in his life, so if I were making my own personal statement, I would definitely want God in the spotlight, but I do think Dad’s points are well taken. I would love to continue to be able to enjoy variety, integrity/integration, productivity, and social interaction, and in all the research studies, those qualities do come out as critical to emotional well-being and even longevity.

However, I have known more than a few loved ones (Alan’s father being one) who barely survived his retirement before being diagnosed with a terminal illness. I am seeing this more and more often, and it definitely makes me feel like I’m going to be holding my breath very tightly when we jump off the end of the retirement diving board!

One dear friend, whom I admire greatly, is struggling with her own beloved husband, who had a fabulous career and was always a rock in her life . . . but is now showing undeniable symptoms of memory loss just a few years post retirement. As we Boomers begin to time out, we find ourselves grieving losses. Our own. Those of our beloved spouses and friends. 😦 I don’t mean to discourage anyone who’s looking forward to retirement. Alan’s older brother, and my two older brothers have all retired and are aging extremely well, so it can be done! However, I want to share this timely and tender consolation from a devotional my friend shared with me:

A Valentine Devotion on the Cycles of Life
I Corinthians 13:7 NIV
“Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

“Years ago I copied this paragraph from George Matheson’s book published in 1909, The Representative Men of the New Testament. He writes that we can see these same cycles in romantic love [as in the cycles of life]. It’s an old book and I loved this paragraph for its poetry and imagery more than for its realism. Today I see its realism. I will read it as my conclusion: ‘What is the common process of love’s enlargement? Take a human love; take what we generally term romantic love. What are the stages through which it is wont to pass? I think there are four. At first it is a hope – something to be realized tomorrow. Then it is a present possession but reserved as yet only for garden hours when we are free from the bustle of the crowd. By and by its range is widened – it becomes a stimulus for the great duties of life; it comes out from the garden into the city; it nerves to do and to bear. At last it reaches its climax – it comes down to trifles. It glorifies the commonplace; it finds sermons in stones and sonnets in the dust. Little things are magnified; unromantic things are glorified. We do prosaic work. We perform menial duties. We go through cheerful drudgery. We pluck thorns.'”

11 thoughts on “Thoughts on Retirement, Hope, Love, and Plucking Thorns

  1. I love the way you wrote, you are very honest with your thoughts . I know every retired person has some sort of anxiety, imagine previous people used to retire at 55 and become self employee . I am now 45 and still working hard. I want to retire at 55 and start Air B &B, but I don’t know whether I will have saving that time as I don’t have any now. haha. Like Buddha said, we should focus on present moment and deal with things only they come along. BOth you and your husband look fit and fabulous. I am sure you will have things you enjoy doing soon.

  2. Super K. Esther and I have been retired for about 5 years .. we love having all the time in the world to hang out. I go to Guatemala and Europe each enjoying sharing our Lord with young people and speaking in churches as I can. Esther loves the time alone at home. Always a busy girl. We eat, as you know, super organic and healthy making 18 fresh meals a week at our home .. perhaps that would be something you and Alan could explore doing together as well. All the best. I pray your retirement years would be as a fine wine. James and Esther

    1. I go to Guatemala and Europe for one month each every year alone. Also to work on my personality. This also enhanced our love life in many ways.

  3. Retirement comes in two flavors. We retire from or we retire to. I Love the wisdom your dad spoke into you. My life in retirement is great right now. All that could change in a heartbeat. I have learned that nothing is forever and it’s priceless to to know that should my what-if fears come true, God will help me accept the even-if. Thank you for sharing this beautiful picture of living our best lives in every season.

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