“I am Titanium!”  The lyrics played in the background at the therapy pool at TOSH the last morning I was there.  I went for pool therapy once or twice per week and did my own routine the other days.  That day was a special day in the therapy pool.  My therapy was “upgraded.”  Two hip surgeries, 12 weeks apart.  I’ve had many ups and downs, but overall I’m glad I had the surgeries.  My doctor is the very best.  My pain from before the surgery is absolutely gone.  Now it’s time to get strong.

When I arrived that day, the pool was full.  The therapy pool has lanes for swimming and deep and shallow areas.  No children.  No slides.  No waves.  The room has large windows where the sun streams in during the morning hours and large potted plants think they live in a jungle.  It’s a beautiful pool.  There were lots of elderly ladies there that morning for the arthritis class.  Every morning I went, there were many of these same people.  On this day, I was really paying attention.  Wondering.  What are their stories?  Everyone there is trying to get strong.  Maybe they’ve had surgery, like me.  Maybe recovering from an accident, or illness.  Maybe they just have a lot of pain that comes with age and they want to feel better.  Something brings them there.  Something brought me there, too.

Everyone was always so kind.  Gentle smiles and friendly greetings.  “What brings you here?  You’re so young!”  “Two hip surgeries,” I say.  “What?  Hip replacements?  You’re so young!”  Then I have to explain that I am too young to have hip replacements and I had a different kind of surgery.  I digress. On that day it really hit me hard just how beautiful these people are.  Fragile, sweet people. Lined faces with bodies that are failing them.

There was a time that I dreaded aging, hated the thought of getting older, and having my body fail me.  I’m over it.  I’m 50 now.  I no longer care about trying to look like I’m 30.  I’m not, so why would I want to?  Fifty is a really good number.  I look pretty good for 50, so I’ll be happy with that, but it’s about so much more.  It’s about what’s inside.  It’s about where this body has taken me, what it has done for me, what it continues to do for me, and where I hope it will take me still.

This is a telestial world.  I don’t want a telestial body.  My goal is a celestial body in celestial glory, in Heaven with my family and God.  How can I be worthy of a celestial body then if I’m obsessed with a telestial body now?  My belief is that God gave me this body to learn His will and do it; to have and raise a family; to serve others, and to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Am I wearing my body out in service to the Lord and others?  Or am I worshipping myself and my body through telestial means or “worldly” ways?   I do believe in putting my best foot forward each day, being clean and well groomed, and well dressed, having good manners and propriety.  But it changes to something else when I worry about my hair or my shoes or my last-year’s coat.  When I start to feel the temptation to “do something about” one of those little problem areas.  No, I want a celestial body, not a telestial one.

I’ll tell you who has a celestial body.  My husband’s mother.  She is 90 years old.  She is beautiful. Not in the way that would ever grace the cover of a magazine.  No, much more important than that. She is gloriously beautiful in the way her crippled and twisted hands show a life of constant service, of playing the violin well into old age, of continuing even to this day to write at the computer and produce her first and second novels; her lined face and thin body too fragile on most days to do much more than a walk around the care center to do her visiting teaching; eyes that are starting to no longer see, but still shine brightly when she sees her family; a head of white hair that is so thick and wavy, I could only dream of having hair like that; a sense of humor and wit so keen and quick you would scarcely believe she is 90.  Does she primp and fuss?  No way.  She doesn’t have time.  She’s clean and well groomed, smart in her classic style of dressing with a necklace or two about her neck.  She has more important things to do than worship herself and worry about her looks.  She knows her time is running out and she has things to do.  Testimony to bear.  Souls to lift.  Hearts to gladden.  Wisdom to share.  People to love. 

So I think of the words in that song.  “I am titanium.”  And I feel like that.  Some people don’t like my views on things.  That’s okay.  I probably don’t like their views on things.  It doesn’t mean we can’t be kind to one another.  I wonder how people younger than me will treat people of my generation when we are older, like the sweet ladies in the pool; however, I’m not optimistic.  So many younger women seem to already have lost respect for people older than them.  And I’m not that much older.  Not too long ago, a younger woman criticized my dress at church.  Really.  And there was no reason.  It’s modest, it’s a classic; it is a beautiful dress that I’ve had forever.  If she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t need to say anything.  There are things she does that I might not approve of, but I don’t judge her and I certainly don’t say anything to her.  What is missing? 

I think the problem is the self-centered culture we live in now and numerous people have purchased it with their souls, but so many younger people, who don’t really remember what the world was like when it was better without so much technology, have jumped head first into a very shallow pool.  Shallow is the operative word here.  Shallow values and priorities.  Missing respect and propriety.  Absent of class and maturity.  Too self-absorbed.  Too concerned with keeping up with their friends, even if doing it dishonestly.  All for their Instagram feed and ‘friends’ they have never met and will never really know.  My husband said to me the other day, “be glad you’re not in your 30s.”  And I really am.  Would I go back?  No way.  No way!  And to the younger people, all I can say is, enjoy things now, because this is all coming down the pike for you, too. 

My 4-year-old niece spent the day with me today.  It was really wonderful day.  We played dolls and Lego.  We painted pictures and created fresh works of art.  We took a ride for lunch and a treat and went to the art store.  We bought candy necklaces.  While we were painting, she asked me, “Gina, how old are you?”  I asked her how old she thought I was, reminding her that on my birthday last year she helped me open all the presents and it was a lot, so that should help her remember, since it was a joke to see if I could really open 50 presents.  She thought about it and said, “hmmm, 20?” 

“No, honey, I’m 50.”  She replied in excitement, “you are?!  That’s so great!”  I told her, “yes, darling, I am 50 and it was my very favorite birthday.” 

It’s true.  I’m 50 and I’ll be 51 before Christmas, which is tremendous because now I’ll be IN my fifties.  I am looking forward with great optimism to the future of what will unfold for my children, for my husband and me, and even for this body of mine.  It can do so much!  And my brain, it still works!  I can still do everything I enjoy most and the physical things will improve as my hips get stronger.  I’m sure of it.  However, the most important things are my spirit and my heart.  No matter how tattered and worn out this body gets, and it’s bound to, nothing can kill my spirit.   “I Am Titanium!”