Grey hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city.
‘Your daughters could help you do something about ageing,’ was the unsolicited advice proffered. The girls were listening.
‘Grey hair is beautiful.’
I was startled. Mostly teenagers are brutally blunt.
Feminists and animal rights activists do warn against colourings. Yet I like to think that deeper insights underpinned our daughters’ verdict.
God sees what’s good.
God knows us inside out.
The first proverb shows the beauty of a life well lived: a wrinkled, imperfect, hoar-framed face radiates grace. Such a person has long been able to express trust and praise, through bad times as in good ones.
Yet could such a man or woman ever have lost their temper?
Yes, and they’d have found that most disquieting.
Sometimes mounting anger feels as though a match is about to ignite a bonfire.
Time out prevents flames from fanning. Breathing deeply, feeling air move through every pore of skin as mind and body settle – these are wholesome strategies. Yet feelings may toss around, giving the illusion that God is absent.
Rage might be the response to absurdity or injustice.
Being real is vital for well-being. No-one wants to end up crushed and despairing, nor to withdraw into a cold silence, barely covering pain and contempt. Before inhibition sets in, infants know how to let rip. How great it is, to see a creative parent allowing, containing and understanding those ear-splitting currents of emotion. There’s time to reflect once the storm passes.
Throughout life, finding that safe place and seeking wise counsel matter greatly. Prayer is not about ‘being a good boy (or girl)’. Self-control requires honesty, not compliance.
Learning how to handle ourselves skilfully is very different from ‘keeping the lid on’.
God loves us at the core, even in our troubled state. Our choices, courage and genuine resilience expand as we face our vulnerabilities squarely.
Dear Jesus, You met hypocrisy with shrewd wit and went after corrupt people with a whip. You also tell us that we must forgive not seventy times, but seventy times seven. We ask for deep awareness that you accompany us through all life’s scenes and stages. Give us the humour and serenity we need, and humble discernment whenever we are ready to call out whatever is outrageous. Amen
Roberta Ritson, is an ordinand at the Scottish College and member of Horsley Church in Northumberland