Dear Older Self,
We have been exploring the possibility that the most difficult anxiety of all may be the fear of being abandoned by others and by God. You may find yourself feeling like you have been forgotten even by God.
These fears of abandonment may come from the thought that that as you decline in strength that you will also decline in value. This fear may be one of the greatest fears you face. But this fear is not based in reality. The truth is God is with you. You are never alone or forgotten. You are never without value. You are known, loved, surrounded and held by your Maker whose love is powerful and personal.
The truth is that there are times when we may experience God as close and there are times when it seems that God is very distant. But the reality is that God is always with us loving us with a love that never fails, whether we sense this to be true or not. Keep in mind what you wrote about this years ago:
“Some mornings when I am out walking I look up at the sky and it seems far away. On other days I realize that the sky kisses the earth. As I walk, I move through sky. I walk surrounded by sky. I breathe in the sky. It lives inside of me. Whether the sky seems close or far away, the truth is that it is always close.
And, so it is with God. God is the One in whom we “live and breathe and have our being” (Acts 17:28). God is with us. Always. God’s loving presence caresses us, surrounds us, fills us. I am not alone. You are not alone. God is with us. And God knows. You can trust this absolutely.“
I want to encourage you to make it a daily practice to meditate on the truth of God-with-you.
Keep in mind the elderly woman you knew who made this kind of meditation a regular practice. She was widowed, living alone and in poor health. You were drawn to her because she had a very calming presence about her. She had much in her life that was challenging but she seemed to be at peace most of the time. She told you that she spent time in the morning and in the afternoon doing a simple practice of meditation. She would sit in her favorite, most comfortable chair for twenty minutes and picture herself resting in a peaceful place, with the light of God’s loving presence shining gently on her. When her mind drifted to other thoughts, she would return to the imagery of that peaceful place and soak in the light of God’s loving presence. Meditating in this way seemed to keep her in an alert, yet peaceful state of mind.
There are many benefits to mediation. We know that the practice of mediation can change our brain chemistry. We know it can lead to a greater sense of serenity, hopefulness and sense of well being.
Specifically, the practice of meditating on God’s presence with you has the benefit of confronting your deepest anxiety with the deepest truth. You are known, you are loved, you are in God’s loving care in all of life and in death as well. Meditating on this deep truth can change the way you experience everything. Meditating on God’s loving presence with you can help you find rest for your soul.
There are many ways to practice a prayerful meditation on God’s presence with you. You might do what your elderly widow friend did. Or you might sit and meditate for a time on a simple phrase like the one from Psalm 13:5 which says,“I trust in your unfailing love.” You might repeat this as a prayer throughout the day. It could be a way of focusing your mind and opening your heart to God ’s presence with you, loving you with all that love is—patience, kindness, deep respectfulness, gentleness, goodness, forgiveness, hopefulness. This is God’s unfailing, never ending, unshakeable love that is with you always. You could let yourself breathe in God’s unfailing love and breathe out your gratitude. Again. And again.
You might also take note of experiences that help you rest in God’s unfailing love. Are there readings, or music, or relationships, or places in nature that help you to be conscious of God’s presence with you? If so, do what you can to enjoy some of those gifts each day.
This meditation is taken from Notes to Our Older Selves: Suggestions for Aging With Grace by Juanita Ryan and Mary Rae. You can get a copy at Amazon.com