During my middle school days I had an obsession with Medieval Times. I devoured period novels from the library, and if I learned of a movie that was set in the Medieval Times, I was all over it. (Ever After, A Knights Tale, First Knight…) Loved them. I often imagined that I was a Lady living on a manor. I even gave myself an appropriate name: Lady Katherine. One week when I was in 6th grade, to my delight we studied the Medieval Times. We were divided into groups and were charged with creating our own manors. We had to rename ourselves (I already had that one covered) and decide what roles we played in the manor. And of course, we had to name the manor: Armor Valley. So from then on I secretly considered myself Lady Katherine of Armor Valley.
My diary occasionally reflects this obsession of mine. What I notice most about diary entries from those days was my shameless imagination. I spoke to my diary as though it were a real person. And it was a highlight of my days. As a 12 year old one of my favorite hobbies was imagining. It brought me great joy, and it also helped me prepare for real life because I spent so much time imagining myself in all kinds of scenarios and determining how I would handle thousands of situations.
Okay, so maybe I haven’t been scooped up by a giant talking parrot and taken to a magical island, but if that ever happens I’ll know exactly how to handle myself! But I did marry a prince! Okay, okay, not a real prince…. but he is my prince charming! I still say all those hours of imagining were time well-spent.
I think adults grow old when they stop imagining. When they stop laughing and playing. When they forget what the world looks like through a child’s eyes. I refuse to grow old. I will grow in wisdom and experience. Parts of my body will creep nearer to the ground, creases will develop on my face, and my hair will turn grey, but I am determined to not grow old. Lisa Dekter, age 76 says, “To be ‘young at heart’ is to love life, wake up every day, and enjoy that day as a gift.”
Kids LIVE. They make funny noises and bounce around like lunatics sometimes. Children dance with abandon, sing with no concern for whether they could be the next American Idol, and belly-laugh at the silliest things. Kids imagine. They travel the globe and beyond without leaving the house. They see the world as an exciting beautiful place. They love deeply. Kids are real.
Anyone want to join me in remaining young at heart? It doesn’t happen by accident. Life is full of worries and “adult stuff.” But we don’t have to let the never-ending to-do list, bills, health issues, or disappointments steal our joy. We have a choice. They say life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it. I believe that wholeheartedly. Most joyful optimistic people I know (including myself) aren’t that way due to a lack of trials and hardship. If you probe a little you will find that often the most optimistic people are the ones who have been through horrible trials and have learned to rest in the Lord’s peace. Their joy comes from God.
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” (Karen Warren’s summary of the Biblical definition of joy.) The only thing I would add to this is that by resting in knowing everything will be alright does not necessarily mean this life will be easy or that we will have the privilege of witnessing “the good guy” win. We serve a good God who will make all right in the end. If Jesus is your Savior then you can experience this same confidence in knowing that in the end he will make all things right.
So, are you with me? Let’s stay young! Let’s live a life full of joy and vigor! Let’s CHOOSE joy!
My 12-year-old Medieval self greets you:
May 10, 1999 Monday
I be happy to say that tomorrow is the occasion of J’s Birthday. Oh, By the way, how art thou? I trust you slept well. (Oh dear, I have lost myself. You can’t sleep. You are a diary.) Well, I had better be going to bed now before the Queen catches me up writing again. I must part now. Fair thee well! (Good bye)
Lady Katherine of Armor Valley
May 11, 1999 Tuesday
I be happy to say that today waseth J’s birthday. Today something ate my favorite chicken (a rather unpleasant sight to see… feathers on the ground). We lost a duck. We have no idea where it went. It is storming tonight. Hopefully there won’t be another horrid tornado. Well, I must part now. I bid thee farewell (until tomorrow).
Lady Katherine of Armor Valley
P.S. The kittens are learning to walk.