Not all individuals aim for the common dream of a comfortable, leisurely retirement; they want to continue working, either in their lifetime careers or in some new field of endeavor. However, people in either category the world over, as a recent Monitor feature explains, are finding it more and more difficult to do either. Due to a swelling population of “retirement age” individuals, as well as austere economic times, their well-laid plans are being blown straight out of the water, as the saying goes.
What’s a person in such a situation to do? Is there an answer that can meet not only their basic needs for health and strength and supply, but will also fill their later years with joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment?
My thought goes back to something I observed about 25 years ago. I was in a grocery store checkout line.
A customer ahead of me apparently knew the cashier, and they were having a friendly discussion during which the customer asked the cashier if she enjoyed her work. Her answer was that what kept her going was that in 20 years she would be able to retire and enjoy all the things she currently couldn’t do.
My heart went out to her, hoping she was actually finding some present joy in her daily life and work. And for me, that was a lesson to remember. For, while we often do not have control over circumstances, through prayer we can find ways to surmount them.
What comes to me now in regard to the bind many seniors find themselves in is an invitation from Jesus Christ. He said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:29). The yoke Jesus invited us to share with him, of course, was his service to God. Jesus was yoked, or bound, to God, eternal Truth, who gives freedom to all who live to serve and glorify Him.
Too often, our human way of reasoning is bound together with material circumstances. We judge our present circumstances to be less than ideal, and assume, or hope, that things will be better in the future. This saps joy from the present and projects it into the future. Or, when the “future” has arrived, our hope for a life of joy seems like an empty dream. But when one lives to serve and glorify God, one can find joy under any circumstance – the joy of overcoming limitation through the unlimited power and love of God, who is divine Love.
I find a lot of comfort and guidance in these thoughts of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science and the founder of the Monitor: “Human reason becomes tired and calls for rest. It has a relapse into the common hope. Goodness and benevolence never tire. They maintain themselves and others and never stop from exhaustion” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 165). I’ve been finding that retiring from a circumstances-bound “common hope” for either a leisurely retirement or continuing employment opens the way to living to serve and glorify God day by day. This not only brings joy but produces satisfying solutions that meet our present needs.