Looking Older

It happened again this past Friday.  No, I didn’t almost decapitate myself on a bathroom stall coat-hook.  No, my wife didn’t almost shoot me.  What happened is far more common; on average it happens about once every week.  I had  conversation about my age.  It seems that other people are able to avoid conversations like this.  Not me.  My questioner this time was the 27-year-old son of a co-worker.  He asked me the question that I get again and again, “How old are you?”  I gave him my standard reply, “How old do you think I am?” 

His answer–48.

There is nothing at all wrong with being 48; it is a fine age.  I have known some people this age who are active, healthy, and who seem much younger than me.  Honestly, I’ve known some 80-year-olds who seem much younger than me, too.  The only problem with being seen as a 48-year-old is that I am 15 years younger than this.  That’s right, I’m 33.

People have been thinking I am older than what I really am most of my life.  I remember being in Kindergarten and a lunch lady trying to charge me extra because she thought I was in first grade.  I remember hearing questions concerning my eligibility to play sports in a particular age classification because I looked older than the other kids.  I remember talking to a pulpit search committee when I was 26 and having some of the members think that I was 35. 

This is something I will probably deal with until my age catches up with my looks.  Here are a few reasons why:

1.  My hair.  I was born with jet black hair, but I have no idea why it was called jet black.  Wonder Woman has an invisible jet, but I have never seen a black jet.  Anyway, I received my first gray hair when I was 8-years-old and had a few more pop up in high school.  The gray hair revolution really picked up steam when I became a pastor, started a new job, bought a house, and got married within a four-month span.  Now my hair would best be described as salt-and-pepper, although it has yet to start a rap career.

2.  My size.  I can’t quite get a couple of my kids to understand that being the biggest does not always mean you are the oldest.  Methuselah wasn’t 57 feet tall.  Being tall doesn’t mean you are older than everybody else.  It also doesn’t mean you are strong and enjoy helping people move. 

3.  My clothes.  I have never styled and if my memory is correct I have also never profiled.  Generally speaking, I dress like a nursing home resident. 

4.  My skin.  It seems to be a rarity for someone of my generation not to have any tattoos.  It’s not that I am against them, it’s that I have a severe aversion to pain.  Does this make me a pansy?  Probably.  I’m okay with that.

5. My kids.  People seem to assume that having 5 kids means I am at least 40.  If we had spaced our kids out a little bit, this might be the case.  Instead, we decided to take the fast track a few years ago and go from 1 to 4 within five months.  Having a lot of kids does not mean you’re old, it just means you often feel old.

I don’t mind looking older than I really am; it has actually been a blessing, especially in ministry.  It seems that people have more respect for older pastors, even though this should not necessarily be the case.

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers,
in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12

Spiritual maturity does not come with age; it comes with walking by faith and not by sight on a continual basis.  Are there older folks who are spiritually mature? Yes. Are there younger folks with this same quality?  Absolutely.  Do I  put too many questions in one paragraph that I give one word answers to?  Sometimes.

No matter how old I am or how old I look I know that God is still working to make me more like Christ.  My gray hair may make me look older, but it is His work in me that will give me the maturity that I really desire. 

(Do you look older or younger than you really are?  Why? What are your thoughts on spiritual maturity? Share away!)


68 thoughts on “Looking Older

  1. Ha ha! I like how you go into all your crazy antics – near-decapitation, pajama girls eating chinese, your odes to your feet, and then tie a scripture in at the end. It’s almost as if it’s what the Apostle Paul had in mind. 🙂

    With all due respect, I never thought you looked a day over 42!

  2. Great post 🙂 Ive always felt like a babyface, and only recently have realized I’m starting to look older I’m 30). the troops have started to retreat a little from mt forehead unfortunately 😦 No grey hairs yet, but I’m definitely riding that same black jet.

  3. If I didn’t color my hair, I would look significantly older than I am. My roots tell me that I could easily pull off looking 50. As I am instead 36, that is definitely not okay with me, so I color my hair.

    And people who are extremely nice liars tell me that I don’t look old enough to have four kids or to have a kid who is in 7th grade. But like you, we just jammed all of ours together in just under 5 years right at the beginning of our marriage. That commitment to procreation in my younger years should allow me to be a very young grandma.

    Spiritual maturity? Some days I feel like a wizened old geezer and some days I feel like a newborn. It seems to have a pretty direct correlation to my time with God. Imagine that. ;-D

    • My wife has threatened to color my hair in my sleep for years. So far, it hasn’t happened, but I know it would make me look at least a little younger. And the correlation you mention–very, very true.

  4. My husband has been grey from his young years. Age and what people may or may not think has honestly never come up, ever.
    He works full time in our family biofuel business that he started when after working over 25 years in IT he decided he didn’t want to sit at a computer anymore.
    Now he is jumping on and off of trucks all day. Go figure. On Sundays he teaches Bible studies in our congregation.
    In our Passover Seder there is a passage about a holy man who turned gray at age 17. The reason commentaries explained was so the people would have less trouble showing him the respect he deserved.
    I like that one.
    Spiritual maturity? I have to give it up to my boy. He is steady as a rock. Lives and breathes our beliefs and is the string to our family kite.

  5. True story: The Sunday before I got married, I reminded my youth group that I wouldn’t be there for the next two Sundays because I was getting married and going on a honeymoon. One of the boys looked at my fiancee and asked her how old she was. She replied that she was 21. He then looked at me and asked, “You’re robbing the cradle a little bit there, aren’t you?” I asked him how old he thought I was. He replied, “Aren’t you 35?” I was 23.

  6. I have had the same problem with the looking older than you really are thing. But right now I even feel older than I really am. Blame that on being too busy, drinking too many Dr. Peppers, and having too much stress in my life.

    As far as spiritual maturity, it seems like that is changing constantly. Some days I feel spiritually grown up, other days i feel like a spiritual baby. But I keep pressing on…

  7. I’m 28 and everyone thinks I’m in my mid 30’s. #fail

    I’m guessing they think this way due to my maturity.

    And I think you nailed the spiritual maturity explanation.

  8. My husband, who is twelve years older than me, looks my age.

    Does that mean I look old or he looks young? You tell me. How old do YOU think I am?

  9. Funny stuff, Matt.

    My wife and I are the geezers in the family for waiting until we were out of school to get married, have kids, etc. Seems like all the Valencias (for generations) tie the knot at/around 19 years old and begin popping out kids. But…… at 29, with (almost) 3 kids, I suppose I’ll be a young Grandpa as well.

    I get told all the time that I look so young. “You’re a senior in high school, right?” 🙂

  10. I definitely look younger than I am. I love it. I have great genes. My jeans aren’t too shabby either (I’m a 34/30 if you’re getting a jump on Xmas shopping). My parents are 55 and almost always people think they are in their mid-40s.

    I’m around young people a lot in church so I was actually asked if I was 21 the other day. It was pretty cool. I’m 31…turning 32 this year.

    Age has never been a big deal for me. I love being in my 30s. I also love that I don’t look like I’m in my 30s. Either way I’d still love it.

    I also know people that are much older than me that behave like spiritual teenagers. I know a guy that is 24 that blows me away with his wisdom every time we speak. Spiritual maturity is definitely NOT about age.

    • I’m in that boat too. My dad is in his 60s, and people regularly guess he’s in his 40s. I’m in my early 30s and get early 20s as the most frequent guess.

      Although, we do have a favorite story from when we used to teach Sunday School as a family at least 15 years ago, when my dad actually was in his 40s. One of the little kids (4-6 I think) asked my dad his age, and he asked him how old he thought he was. The little boy looked at him for a long time, then said entirely seriously, “You can’t be a day over 70”.

      We still tease him about that one.

    • I wear almost the exact opposite of you in jeans, because I have epic long legs. Well, I would, if I wore jeans. I can never find any in my measurements that can be sat down in, so I only wear slacks.

  11. When I was younger, I always looked older than I was. But I don’t think I look older than my age now. Good genes help. My mom is pushing 80 and she doesn’t have any wrinkles to speak of. Hair color helps. My hair started going grey when I was in my 20s so I color my skunk stripe. But I think my immaturity keeps me feeling young.

  12. I always found that if you walk with your chin 15 degrees higher than normal and close your eyes a bit, while moving your lips will make you look both, younger and more spiritual.

  13. The only thing worse than people thinking I am older than I am is when they think my wife is younger than she is. It hurts my feelings when people ask how my daughter is….

  14. It’s not all that fun being mistaken for a teenager when you’re really in your 30’s – especially when you have a ten year old kid! (I get some interesting looks from people.) I remember having a 2 yr. old and a baby on my hip and some man I didn’t know asked if I was 15. I was 25.

    I see a lot of older patient’s during the day. They always tell me,”It’s hard getting old, don’t get old!” What do I say to that? I’m not so sure I’m ready for the alternative!

    Hoping and praying for more and more wisdom, learning from wiser ones, asking God questions …

    • My sister-in-law had the same problem a few years ago. It’s better for her now, but then it made her increasingly frustrated. I like that phrase “asking God questions.”

  15. I am a victim to looking younger than I am. I always have been. Being the smallest one in the class never helped. I too get some looks when I am out with my daughter. This summer on our vacation I went into the grocery store alone, dressed in beachy clothes, no makeup. The woman behind the deli didnt wait on me and then she realized I “wasnt the daughter of the woman in front of me.” She thought I was like 13. I’m not that old at 27, but 13…as much as I am supposed to take that as a compliment, I still feel insulted. I know I don’t need to waste my time worrying about what other people think, but I have tried to dress more my age and wear makeup when I go out with a toddler in tow.

    • In a way, besides our looks, that reflects the state of things in our culture. Teen pregnancy is so prevalent, even down to pre-teens sometimes, that the thought of a teenager with a child is not uncommon. It used to be (I say in my 30s) that if you saw a girl about 15 or 16 with a child, you’d think how nice it was that she was taking her little sister to the store. Now you don’t know whether she’s babysitting her little sister or bore the child herself.

  16. Take comfort in this: at least you are a dude. You guys can get away with looking “distinguished” as you age. We gals are just seen as letting ourselves go!

    Thanks for stopping by my place and visiting. I’m really enjoying my time here. 🙂

  17. I got this a lot but it was the opposite. I once did a wedding and they basically thought I was the ring bearer. Now that I am in my 30’s and going bald it has aged me up and most people think I’m 30 something.

  18. I’m 41 now, but don’t look it (when I shave–which I hate doing). My beard started going gray when I was 28–just a little spot on my chin. Which then spread up my cheeks. No gray in my hair, just the beard. So although I’m 41, because I don’t shave I look 51. My wife hates it.

    I tell I’ve earned these grays via parenting and 20-plus years of marriage.

    She doesn’t buy it…

  19. I’ve been told for the longest time that I look at least 10 years younger than my actual age (just turned 42 towards the end of January). When I was in my second year of university (shortly before I turned 34), one of the 20ish year old guys asked me about my age…after I’d mentioned something about probably being the oldest in the class besides the prof). I told him and he called me a liar. I showed him my birth certificate or driver’s license, and he said it couldn’t be mine because I only looked like I was in my early 20s.

    Sometimes it has its advantages, but sometimes I get annoyed at people not thinking I’m as old as I am. I know, for a woman, it’s always nice for people to think you are younger than you actually are, so I mostly feel blessed about this.

    • It appears that, for women, when you are in your 20s looking younger is a bad thing, when you’re in your 30s it can be both good and bad, but after that it is all good. Thanks for commenting!

  20. I enjoyed reading this one a lot. I am in the opposite direction. I’ve always been told I was younger than I am based on appearance but I seem older when people just talk to me or read my words. I had to grow a goatee once I started teaching college because I was mid 20s and looked like many students. Other profs would always assume I was a student! Not the wrinkles are balancing that out.

  21. I’m so late on this, but the amount of times I laughed out loud were many.

    I’m 30. I look 12, have the skin of a 15 year old, but with wrinkles around my forehead and eyes that look 40. I’m like someone’s crazy genetic science fair project gone awry.

    Spiritually? I’m a pre-teen trying to look older to get into the club.

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