Having attended several retirement parties this past month made me ponder on what many of us look forward to after retirement. Based upon the speeches of the honorees and well-wishers, I’ve found that many of us look forward to spending retirement years by enjoying quality time with our families, friends and relatives and giving ourselves the much needed rest and relaxation. However, I’ve also discovered that some have that common fear of retirement.
Apparently, money isn’t the only reason why people are afraid of retirement. Even if they’ve saved diligently and amassed a comfortable egg nest, some people think their retirement years will be boring without the mental stimulation of work. I’ve heard many stories of depressed retirees and of course that’s not something to look forward to. On the other hand, the wise retiree prepare for the inevitable transition from the busy life to the well anticipated idle moments. Oh well, plans for life after retirement in the workforce can be endless but here’s the big question – “Have we ever considered preparing for retirement from this Earth as well? How many of us have?”
I remember vividly what the Manager of the bank where I worked before told me. On one Christmas party, he gave me the Holy Bible as a present and said, “Here’s my humble gift to you. It’s the “B-est I-nsurance B-efore L-eaving E-arth.” Yes indeed, the Holy Bible is the best preparation one can ever have for his retirement from this earthly life.
I glanced at my watch, it’s exactly 8:55 PM, July 5, 2015. As I was writing this article, I had to stop right at this paragraph as a strong earthquake and several strong aftershocks shook the house and for awhile I got nervous and I prayed. I thought all the more that we should prepare for our “retirement” for we know not when we are called by our Creator to “retire.”
Then I thought, “how can anyone have lots of time to watch movies and TV, read magazines and books, spend hours and hours in the computer and so little time or no time at all to read the Bible and more so to communicate with God?”
Have we realized we are running out of time? The signs of the times are revealing. The strong earthquake just a few minutes ago is just one of them. Killer floods and heatwaves have become common news. Add to that unusual diseases like AIDS, MERS-CoV, SARS etc. So, why then can’t we stop for awhile and make the necessary preparations to get ourselves ready?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the world should stop spinning and everyone should stop working for the end is near. I’m not saying that retirees cannot have lazy moments either. For I too, a self-proclaimed retiree at age 44 believe that retirement is payback time – the perfect time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. After retirement, with a sigh of relief we can finally say, “it’s time to relax and enjoy after the many years of dedicated service, sacrifices and hard work.” But hey! Let us also remember that retirement is not the end of everything. Retirement does not at all equate with lazy, unproductive years. We stiill have so much to contribute to the world and to our neighbors especially to those in need.
So, how do we prepare for our retirement from this earth we live on? It is not enough that we know the Bible by heart but we should live it as well.
Someone said and I quote, “Retiring is replacing old tires with new tires.” And when you have new tires, you are ready to start a new journey. This time however, you can drive slow and at your own speed and you can have as many stop-overs as you want.
STOP-OVER may mean, visiting or meeting up with family, old friends, aging relative or a sick neighbor you haven’t had the time to when you were working.
Way back into your working days, with career and family to look after and the hectic pace of modern life, it was difficult to find time for socializing. During those busy times, seeing friends and relatives were not one of your priorities but after retirement, making an effort to stay in touch can be important not just for them but also for your own wellbeing.
How could it be beneficial to your health? The reason is that catching up with family and old friends is the perfect way to ease the stresses and strains of the retiree’s everyday “boring” routine. In fact, that’s one way of relaxation which is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. So, make sure you do it regularly or as per your planned schedule.
So, get to spend more time visiting with friends and family members, near and far. Explore your roots and find relatives you never knew you had. This is quite an adventure that may bring you lots of fun and surprises.
Moreover, as you catch up on life, you will discover a lot of things about them. You can also be a mentor. Find a young person to mentor. Many young people would love the chance to learn from the experienced and successful. Take time out of your week to change the life of someone else.
During these times. you can also do your apostolate by listening to others and bringing them to Christ. Sometimes, even the people who think they are the happiest may have never realized what GENUINE happiness really is. And sometimes, these are the people who tend to forget God because they think they already have everything.
Help them find Christ and help them realize that no one is happier than a person who has Christ in his heart. Just a mere show of love and concern is bringing Jesus to them. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your apostolate everyday. Be an instrument of God’s love not only to people close to you but to everyone you meet.
STOP-OVER may mean visiting orphanages, homeless people and anyone who may need help and sharing what you have with them. Have you experienced receiving many returns after sharing? My husband and I have experienced that so many times. God never fails to return what we share. I’m not exaggerating. Believe me, they almost always come back not only a hundredfold but a thousandfold! Remember, God promises that if we will concentrate on blessing others, HE will take care of our needs. There’s almost nothing that God won’t do for the person who really wants to help other people. And think about this, even the most humble things you share can go a long, long way to the needy.
STOP-OVER may also mean being a volunteer or being a part of an organization that aims to promote the welfare of the people and the environment.
Volunteer. Use your time in retirement to give back. Contact your local church or other charitable organization to find volunteer opportunities that suit your skills. Don’t forget to consider overseas opportunities as well.
If your career was in line with the medical field, volunteer for a medical mission to far flung areas or it can be as simple as being a part of the planting tree program in your community. There’s one and a zillion ways to serve God, community and others. Most of the time, volunteer jobs require no educational qualifications only a sincere and compassionate heart and soul.
In other words, STOP-OVER is a time-out from your usual activities to find different ways and means to reach out to people – “people who need people”, as the song goes…In short, it means serving the Lord in your own little way.
Finally, one thing we can say for certain is that it is wrong to retire from serving the Lord because serving the Lord is a lifelong commitment. Even more, retirement is not the end of our dreams and goals. We still have a lot to dream about and goals to attain. Even as we age, it’s still important to hold on to dreams and stir the creative imagination to expand our horizons in order for us to be able to serve the Lord and reach out to others. Sometimes though, we will be faced with unanticipated challenges, those peaks and valleys that mark the road map of our lives will still be there and they still come in all shapes and sizes and at all times and places.
At the end of the day however, feel happy that you have treasured your Gift of life as a precious rare jewel. Feel happy that you have found genuine happiness not in material things but in Christ’s deep and unconditional love for you. Feel happy that you have served the Lord and continue to serve Him the best way you can for the rest of your life. Lastly, feel happy that you have the B-est I-nsurance B-efore L-eaving E-arth. So now, who’s afraid of retirement?