Thursday 24 January 2013

The older I get, the badder I get

He'd had a rough morning. It started off on the wrong foot and there we were, mother and oldest son, butting heads over and over. He was exerting his independence. I was lacking in patience. He was stuck. I was quick to anger. Neither of us were behaving well, and me all the worse for being the adult.

There was a break, a few minutes of silence, a chance for each of us to collect ourselves. Then he came to me.

"I feel like the older I get, the badder I get."

His face crumpled with those words.
I opened my arms and he climbed onto my lap; it's been too long since I've rocked him like that. He cried as I whispered words of peace, then as quickly as he'd come, he wriggled off my lap and was gone.

We talked about it later, but my words felt hollow, empty platitudes in the face of such sadness and self-awareness. His growing capacity for good as well, the age-old struggle between the two creatures within, choices and forgiveness and I don't know what I'm doing here. He seemed content, though, and it was a good talk. The rest of the day passed smoothly.

But as I lay in bed that night, I couldn't get his words out of my head. The older I get, the badder I get. I realized, slowly, that his words rang true for me as well.

The older I get, the badder I get.

Or perhaps more correctly worded, the older I get, the more aware I am of my badness, my capacity to do wrong even as I desire to do right.

My wrongdoings may be more subtle now, no longer as blatant as those of my earlier years. They may be easier to hide, to ignore, to excuse or brush off as not really that bad. But they are and I am and the awareness only grows as I get older.

I am more aware, too, of the range of my wrongdoings. What I once thought was right now seems horrific to my older self. Did I truly believe that? say that? do that?

The older I get, the badder I get.

There are lessons, too, that I am taught repeatedly and yet never seem to learn. For how long will I continue in my stubbornness? I am increasingly disappointed, for example, in how easily I turn to despair. Forget it, why do I even bother, it's always going to turn out this way. Bitterness and cynicism join in and do I forget so quickly about hope, joy, and that inner peace that passes all understanding? Time and time again and I am running out of excuses.

The older I get, the badder I get.

But that's not my whole story.

Because - to borrow a five-year-old's poor grammar - the older I get, the gooder I get too.

The older I get, the more my eyes are open to the spectrum around me. No longer black and white, I see greys too, and reds and yellows and blues and everything in between. The strident nature of youth is falling away, can't help but fall away, as I grow in understanding and compassion, grace and mercy. There is so much more than I imagined, God is so much bigger than I knew, and there is mystery and beauty and yes, goodness.

The older I get, the gooder I get.

God grows me, stretches me, opens my eyes and my ears and my heart as he guides me along the path. He has begun this work in me, I am truly a new creation, and the old (wo)man is being left behind. Slowly, oh so painfully slowly, I walk towards wholeness in the promise that He will complete this work in the age to come. I see His Goodness and I know His desire for my wholeness, that day when I will no longer wrestle inwardly with the old and the new.

But for now I am both.

The older I get, the badder I get.
The older I get, the gooder I get.
And I know which one wins in the end.


  1. What an interesting, and very human thoughts.
    I adore the honesty of kids! I love it that we are continuously being moulded and shaped into His likeness....

  2. I am beginning to place you in the category of modern day prophet. Not as in 'foretelling the future', but as in 'boldly proclaiming the truth'
    week after week


  3. Thanks for these words. I know the truth of them too. Good reminders of both the badder (which I am more keenly aware of these days) and the gooder.