Age: A New Word to Define It




I wonder how you feel about age or aging. Whether I view it positively or negatively, it will still happen to all of us. As one who is farther along in the process, I can attest there are positives and negatives as well as potential positives and potential negatives. Certainly there are things we may be able to control, but many more that we cannot.


I think we are more aware than ever that our choices throughout our lifetime will have a big impact along with those genes of ours that more and more people are trying to learn about through DNA testing. The generation above me knew far less than that and I think they were often more likely to accept it and deal with it as a natural/normal thing over which they had little impact.


Most of us are getting the messages about this whether we color our hair or not, wear glasses or contacts, wear a hearing aid or turn up the volume, walk around the block or run a marathon. We get the message that God designed our bodies to move and no matter what our age, the more we move the better our bodies perform. We also get the message that what we put in our mouths has an impact not only on our waistline and hips, but also how much energy we have, how often we get sick, how well we sleep, and how alert and energized we may be.


When I look at all of that I am aware that I have some responsibility for what is happening to me at each decade. Sadly, many of us (too many) don’t think about that as much when we are in our twenties and thirties when we can be putting good stuff in our health bank for the future.


Another message we hear about what happens with age is the value of relational connections and a spiritual life that enriches us and adds to the longevity and positive aspect of aging.


I confess that despite being married for almost 55 years, with two married children, and six grandchildren who are no longer babies or toddlers, I definitely do not consider or feel “old”. (Yes, I do color my hair and wear contacts and am now retired.)


This week I discovered a new word that thoroughly delighted me while I was reading Mark Batterson’s book, In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day. Some of you may have read this book that preceded his popular book, The Circle Maker.


Clearly the title about a lion on a snowy day is intriguing. If you are a Bible scholar or avid reader, you may know Batterson is referring to Benaniah who became one of David’s mighty men.


The word I discovered in this book after reaching the conclusion that I think I am one who is a “lion chaser” is neoteny. As a lover of words, learning a new one always fascinates me. This word derives from the Greek word, neos, which means “new, fresh, or youthful”. Batterson notes that neoteny “is the retention of youthful qualities by adults”.


Reading a little further I became aware he was not talking about hair color, walking speed, vision or hearing acuity. He included a quote from the book, Geeks and Geezers, by Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas that I confess I have never seen nor read, but it was so enlightening that I wanted to share it with you here.


Neoteny is more than retaining a youthful appearance, although that is often part of it. Neoteny is the retention of those wonderful qualities we associate with youth: curiosity, playfulness, eagerness, fearlessness, warmth, energy. Unlike those defeated by time and age, our geezers have remained much like our geeks—open, willing to take risks, hungry for knowledge and experience, courageous, eager to see what the new day brings.”


 If you are in your twenties or thirties, that may not excite you and cause you to yawn in boredom, but if you are in the decades beyond that I am guessing you might be smiling.


But there is even more good news!! Batterson reminds us that neoteny is at the heart of the kingdom of God and is, in fact, what God is all about.


“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.  And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-3 NIV


 If we read Batterson as well as this passage in Matthew, I think we need to consider how often we are encouraged to become more and more childlike in our faith and trust in the Lord.


Batterson puts it this way:


“Conversion kick-starts two sanctification processes: Christlikeness and childlikeness. Spiritual maturity is becoming more like Christ and more like a little child.”


 I am not sure about you, but I want to be as filled with wonder at the Lord and all He has created and done as a child.


Neoteny—it’s a good word!


20 thoughts on “Age: A New Word to Define It

  1. Neoteny! It is a fantastic word! As a fellow lover of words, I love learning new ones as well. And this is my favorite one in a long while! As a woman in my mid-40’s, I found myself smiling all the way through this post. I swear I become more and more childlike with each half decade of life. I was so serious and stodgy in my 20’s! What on earth was I thinking! Now I am having the time of my life…spreading light, love, and kindness all around me. Thanks for so much inspiration and for linking up.


    1. I am smiling as I read this because I thought you would like this word😊 I also get feeling as though I were “old” when I was younger. I am tuned in to why that was, but grateful I am and can be sober-minded while still playful and imaginative.

      One thing I have loved this calendar year was one of the Christmas gifts I gave my husband in 2018. It was a beautiful box that I labeled “A Year of Dates”. Inside the box was a sealed note with a date I had planned for each month. The first day of the month he opened the note and found out about the date and usually there was money or a gift card to cover it. My self-imposed rule was that the date needed to be something we had not done before, not visited before, or not done in a long time. The dates have been quite varied. Three have been double dates (each with a different couple). Last night’s date for this month was a cooking class with a guest chef at a local winery. This was a stretch for my sweet hubby, but it declared it fun and a great adventure! Not bad for a couple who will be married 55 years in December ❤️

      1. Wow, what a wonderful idea! And it is because you do things like this that your marriage is still going strong after 55 years!

  2. Stopping by again to say Thanks for linking up with us at the GATHERING OF FRIENDS LINK PARTY 8, pinning!

  3. This is great, Pam! I completely agree. I never want to lose my sense of wonder and my desire to know more about of the Lord. Neoteny … it is a good word.

    1. Thanks, Deb! We are on the same page on this and can hopefully encourage each other to continue in this – neoteny!❤️

  4. That is a wonderful word! Sometimes I wonder when we try to find out all this information about ourselves through DNA etc, it is an attempt to control. So those prior to us did not have as much information so let go of control and accepted changes easier. Just some thoughts I ponder from time to time!

    1. 😊♥️ Those are interesting questions and observations. I think we forget even if we know the Lord that He knows us best and give us the soundest information on us if we ask and listen.

  5. Interesting. Having the blessing of coming from a family where some people tend to live well beyond their nineties (my grandfather passed away at almost 97, my aunt just completed 93 and my own mother is on her way to 88) I always felt there’s a difference between physical age (because no matter what we do our bodies will age) and mental age. And I’ve seen a lot of older people with very young minds, and it’s just amazing to be able to share their knowledge and their experiences.
    Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party.

    1. All true, Teresa! How blessed to have such longevity in your family. I think physical age and health get impacted by mental health and mental perspective. I say that as someone nearing 76 – no one believes my age – who is so far blessed with no chronic health issues except seasonal allergies, a younger appearance, and an eagerness to keep learning and adventuring in new things. 💕

      BTW I used to receive an email about your party and now I don’t since you broke over the summer for a respite.

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