It’s funny how two different life stages can mirror each other so vividly, each bringing a full spectrum of emotion; dread mixed with anticipation.I couldn’t help but to think about this irony as we headed off to Michigan this fall to get my youngest son settled into film school.
The direction is perfect for him and seems like a dream come true since he has discovered over the past couple of years that this creative vocation is truly what God has wired him for, both in talent and passion. Oozing out amongst the certainty that he has made the right choice in both school and program was the natural spattering of feelings of uncertainty, uncomfortable fears of starting something new, and the strange sadness at what is being left behind.
We seemed to both feel it, but I’m guessing from different perspectives. He was sorting and packing all of his belongings to take them off to his new place in the world, full of opportunity and freshness, dreaming of the life he has before him. I was helping him sort and pack his belongings feeling like my new place in the world was shifting into hopelessness, fearful of the new opportunity to begin a new life that didn’t seem fresh or exciting at all. In fact it seemed hollow and uncertain.
He of course had a lot of fears as well. It’s always scary to start something new when there are so many uncertainties. Will I get along with my roommate? What will it be like to live in a big city? Will I even like it? Will I like my classes or will I regret coming here at all? Will I find new friends? What if nobody likes me? What if I find out I don’t like film school at all and I’m wasting a lot of time and money?
Even though he didn’t admit to these fears, I could tell there was an uneasiness about him which reminded me of the way I felt when I went off to college. So many unknowns. As I tried to reassure him with: “Things are going to be great” “Give it 2 weeks and you’ll feel right at home” and “This is such an exciting time in your life when your whole life is ahead of you.” As the weekend unfolded he seemed to grow more and more excited his new chapter, but as I tried to rally myself using these same mantras, I was struggling.
Even though he had been gone last year for a one-year Bible school program, this time was different. This time is permanent since his program goes constantly through 3 years, with only breaks here and there. I had to come to grips with the reality that he will never be living at home again, but will only visit. With our oldest 2 on their own and our 3rd getting married next summer, I felt like this was the end. The end of the only life I have known for the past 31 years.
As we drove away that day, watching him embark on his new adventure, I felt a sense of dread come over me as we drove closer to home. I wondered where I had lost so many years and wished I could go back and be 20 all over again. I wished I had such a sense of who I was like he seemed to have. I wished that I could go back and make so many different choices. I found myself more and more envious of where he was in his life and wished I could have a do-over.
Besides having some sort of cliche mid-life crisis, I seemed to have lost my sense purpose and despair seemed to settle in.
I had finally given into the idea that purpose comes from a job title. I’ve truthfully always struggled with this idea which in our culture is hard to fight against. I made the choice when we first had children to be a full-time mom and even though it wasn’t always easy (especially when faced with the question of “And what do you do?”), I felt a deep calling to be home. Everyone makes the choice that makes sense to them and adds value to their own family in some way and this was mine.
I fully expected to go back to work at some point, but I frankly never could find the time. My life was full, I felt I was contributing in a lot of areas, and I felt as though too many things would suffer if I were to change our situation. I felt a sense of purpose and knew what my job title was.
But now, as my son went off to pursue his dream, I felt like he had packed up my job title and shipped it off with him to Michigan. No longer was I needed at home by a child. No longer was I fulfilling a role. No longer did I have purpose. I felt lost.
But, as I poured out my heart to God, I read through Colossians. As I read Col. 1:28 I felt like a the words on the page were standing out in neon letters. The Apostle Paul was describing his purpose or his job title: to “proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”
I finally realized this is my purpose too. My purpose is to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (Phil. 1:27) and then to proclaim Him, warn others what falls apart when you try to walk apart from God and then teach all that I have learned from Him so far. That is the calling that is most important. That is the ultimate job description. Everything else we do is really to position ourselves in a situation to, yes make money to live on, but ultimately to be able to accomplish the role Paul was describing
Having a job and contributing financially to your family is extremely important and noble, but I finally see that there are other ways to contribute to the world that are just as important. I have been fortunate to be able to make that choice and don’t take that for granted, but I’m realizing that it’s foolish to both be defined by it and to fight so hard against it.
So, I am finally feeling excited about my own new adventure and my own life ahead of me.
The regret I felt over being 53 instead of 20, I can use to my advantage. I’ve had a lifetime of experiences that enable me to proclaim about all of the powerful things God has done in my life. I can also warn others of what can happen when we walk away from God and try to live life pursuing our own pleasures on our own power, because I’ve done it. It hasn’t worked so well. And I can teach from the wisdom God has given me as a result of a lot of dark times, dealing with deep wounds as the hands of other people and my own self-deception.
I’m figuring out my own talents and passions and am figuring out ways to use them, even though it’s terribly scary and seems risky. Watching my son power through his own fear of new beginnings has given me the courage to face my own.
So, I’m currently starting to write my first book on decluttering and organizing which is both daunting and exciting. It’s a lot or work!! I hope to do a series on ways live simply uncluttered lives and will be posting periodic ideas on how to accomplish that so stay tuned!
I’m also stepping out to find ways to help with the trauma that women find themselves in due to deep wounding caused by difficult relationships. Help is hard to find so I hope to fill some of that void. If you find yourself in that situation please let me know on the contact form of my website.
Let me know of ways that some of you are beginning your new adventures!! We can surely be an encouragement to each other! Blessings…