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How to Age Without Getting Old: The Steps You Can Take Today to Stay Young for the Rest of Your Life

How to Age Without Getting Old: The Steps You Can Take Today to Stay Young for the Rest of Your Life

by Joyce Meyer


Learn More | Meet Joyce Meyer
LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE, PART 1

There’s a beauty and wisdom to experience that cannot be faked.
- Amy Grant

If I were to ask you to share your life experiences with me, how would the conversation unfold? Would you tell me stories of a happy childhood, recount your dreams and disappointments, or show me photos of your family? Would you reminisce about the challenges you’ve overcome and the lessons you’ve learned? Would I hear you speak about your life with gratitude for all that God has done for you? Would I perceive fear or anxiety about the days to come, or would I hear peace, faith, and positivity in your attitude toward the future? Everyone’s life experience is different, and God can use it all. In this chapter and the next one, I’d like to share some of the experiences that have led me to write this book.

A LONG JOURNEY BEGINS

I was abused sexually by my father on a regular basis throughout my childhood and teenage years. I am sure that the stress of that experience stole a lot of my energy before I ever had a chance to use it properly. For years, I thought that my being strong and determined got me through those terrible years of abuse, but I now realize it was God who gave me the strength to keep going.

I can remember not feeling well at different times throughout my life, beginning at about age eighteen. I left home as soon as I was legally old enough to do so, and I married at age eighteen—interestingly, the same year I began facing challenges with my health. There’s no way to characterize my first marriage except to say that it was bad and extremely stressful. On two occasions, my husband abandoned me. I also had to deal with his many extramarital affairs, his lack of employment, and his habit of stealing.

I soon found myself going to doctors, asking why I did not feel well so much of the time. They tried to tell me that my physical symptoms were stress related, but I refused to accept “stress” as a real diagnosis. The reason that any mention of stress, nerves, or an emotional connection to the way I felt physically was unacceptable to me is that my mother had trouble with anxiety throughout her life and finally experienced a nervous breakdown. I thought being susceptible to stress meant that I was weak and could not handle life, and I did not want anyone to view me that way.

I now suspect that excessive stress is the culprit behind many health problems. I have personally experienced stressrelated health conditions and have known other people who have experienced them, too. I will elaborate on the connection between stress and health throughout this book, but for now, let me simply say that the symptoms of many illnesses are real, but their root cause—or at least a strong contributor to many of them—is stress.

After getting a divorce at the age of twenty-two, I was alone in the world with my first child. With no one to turn to for help, I lived in a constant state of low-level fear and worry. I could ask my father for help, but I knew that would mean suffering more abuse, so I avoided it as long as I possibly could. I finally did have to move back home for a short period of time, during which I met and married Dave. He was and always has been a patient and loving man, but I was so dysfunctional and my soul was so wounded because of my past that I didn’t know how to enjoy Dave or anything else in life. I didn’t realize that all the stress I had been through had taken a toll on my body. Yet because I was still young and had the energy that young people enjoy, I pressed on, despite dealing with increasing physical issues.

BUSIER AND BUSIER

When Dave and I married, he adopted my son, David, and we quickly had two more babies, both girls. Within a few years, we had three children all under six years old, lived in a small apartment that consisted of three rooms, and had barely enough money to get by. When we decided we wanted to buy our first home, I had to get a job to make the purchase possible, so I added the stress of working full-time on top of trying to do everything else the life of a young wife and mother required. I drank way too much coffee, smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, slept about six hours a night, and was upset about something most of the time. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I also had a birth defect in my right hip. My hip joint was oblong instead of round, so it didn’t fit properly and caused me back problems that started when I was a teenager. Thankfully, that was eventually taken care of through a hip replacement, but not until 2017. From my teenage years until my early seventies, I had back pain and was constantly going to the chiropractor for adjustments.

Although I had believed in Jesus since I was a child, I lacked a real relationship with Him for many years. But in 1976, when I was thirty-three years old, this began to change. God drew me to Himself and gave me a love and passion for studying His Word. As a result, I began to realize that I needed a lot of change in my life in order to solve the problems with which I struggled. Over a period of many years, while I received a lot of healing from Him in my soul and aspects of my life got better, I still didn’t know how to rest. I could barely speak the words I can’t. I had deep insecurities, and I thought my worth and value came from what I produced through hard work, so most of the time I worked.

By the time I was thirty-six, Dave and I had our fourth child, and God had called us into ministry. Starting anything new is usually a lot of hard work, and ministry is no different. We started with nothing, and over a forty-year period, by God’s grace, we have built an international ministry that reaches around the world via television, other media, books, conferences, and speaking engagements.

As both my family and the ministry grew, I constantly worked not only physically but also internally, by worrying, planning, thinking, reasoning, and pondering the teachings I prepared. Most of us can live that way for a period of time, but sooner or later it catches up with us, and life gets harder and harder. I recall the first time I got really sick. I had no energy for anything, but through eating healthily and making a few changes in my lifestyle, I recovered fairly quickly. However, I didn’t learn anything from the experience, so I simply kept doing what I had always done and eventually got sick again. We cannot keep doing the same thing over and over and expect to get different results.

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