When Everything Around You Is Changing

IMG_2535The planned rhythm of my days was only an illusion. My veiled attempt to bring comfort, understanding and safety to a wild, wild world.

My stress level was too high. I‘m not alone.  ABC News reported that “Gallup Healthways Well Being Index show that women ages 45 to 64 have the lowest well being of any age group or gender.” For the first time ever, women may NOT outlive their spouses.

God gently told me to “stop.” I did, and here I am in an uneasy transition. I’m very busy on the surface with the day-to-day privilege of loving my husband,  2 parents, 5 children and many friends  — all while planning 2 weddings and maintaining a normal household and schedule (much like you, I’m sure).

IMG_1622Yet as far as formal serving,  life goals and purpose go, I’m being much more than I’m doing. What’s happening in me seems to be more significant than the obvious disturbance caused by the empty nest of a Mid-life Mom… Who am I and What am I to Do?

I was recently asked, “what are you doing now that you aren’t working?” I started describing my recent flurry of proudly productive busyness — then stopped.

While a consumer of my time, my to-do list is not my life’s purpose. Not the a real answer to their question. I shifted, “I’m not doing much beyond waiting to hear from God what He has next for me.”

IMG_1739We all felt the awkward silence. Graciously my friend asked, “Are you still playing tennis?”

“Not much, but we are on Young Life Board.” I caved. The respectability of a definable position and purpose eased the uncomfortableness of the moment. The conversation shifted — I avoided prolonged awkwardness and with it intimacy, depth and authenticity.

It occurred to me that I needed to take to heart the ways God has been validating my journey and to be willing to share the uneasy nature of my current season.

You know how when God has a theme for you, it starts appearing in various forms from every direction? Well that’s what’s been happening.

IMG_2834God has asked me to take a step forward — out of my race car into a simpler life (like my Granny’s?). To let go of what’s aways worked and defined “Life” for me and to embrace an unknown, unrevealed future.

I’m reminded of the “already, but not yet” nature of our salvation. Is the Kingdom of God a future reality to be hoped for or a present truth to be experienced? The answer is both. We enjoy many blessings here, but nothing compared to our heavenly inheritance. We can grow and overcome, but we’ll never find perfection on this earth. Jesus has already defeated death, sin and Satan, but we must still fight the war… you get the picture.

IMG_3544He’s called me into the unknown. I know I’ve already stepped into it by faith, but I don’t know what it is — not yet. I’ve been in similar places. Where the rug was seemingly pulled from under me, life took an unexpected turn — I plunged head first into new territory, and God was faithful. Looking back it’s clear that my most important growth has intersected with life changes and transitions.

IMG_2926I’m rarely hospitable when Change first knocks at my door — sometimes it has to bust in. But when God makes it clear that my soul is clay in His hands, I’ve learned to trust Him. He always makes me more fully myself.

This time, His  invitation was gentle. In some ways the subtlety makes it harder to trust that He’s at work. But I have faith that the growth He’s already accomplishing won’t be wasted, even though my path isn’t easily defined or labelled.

IMG_2755Following are some general messages I’ve repeatedly encountered during this already but not yet transition. Things God has been nudging me to live out — helping me to see there is divine purpose in this weird limbo. They all point to fixing my eyes on Jesus and walking in His Truth — always a good strategy.

1. Quit criticizing and complaining.
Negativity is derived from an erroneous belief in perfection. If you’re in a habit of pointing out the bad, switch it around! Point out the positive attributes of a rainy day, an overbearing person, a traffic jam… Perfection is a lie for this world, BUT beauty is all around us.

IMG_2571This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thes 5:11)

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged.Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)

2. Quit glamorizing and reliving the past. Life is in the present moment! If your mind is focused on the past with either longing or regret, not only does it detract from the present, but sometimes you totally miss God’s opportunities. The past is being used by God for your good — no matter how it went down. Today you have gifts to share and people to love. Be fully present.

IMG_1699“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

3. Be Disciplined. Paul said,  “…I take every thought (and project) prisoner to make it obey Christ….” (2 Cor 10:5, parenthesis mine) Much work done in the name of “Christian living” hasn’t been disciplined, but is birthed through personal impulse and desire.  Every undertaking of Jesus was disciplined to the will of His Father — “the Son can do nothing of Himself…” (John 5:19).

Be real — what do we usually do? We jump into every project that seems good, worthy, interesting, fun… immediately, instead of quietly and methodically seeking Christ’s will for us first (This is not to say you can’t respond in the moment, but from a life of abiding).

IMG_1731“Practical work for Christians is greatly overemphasized today… But true determination and zeal are found in obeying God, not in the inclination to serve Him that arises from our own undisciplined human nature.” (My Utmost for His Highest) Though we are well-meaning, we are often simply doing “for God” things we have instigated ourselves.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

4. Love.  Is God really my number one love? Do I even try to love my neighbor as myself? I’m not sure who my neighbor is in our modern world — or sometimes what loving looks like. The Greatest Commandment is certainly worthy of my contemplative prayer.

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Matthew 22:37-39)

IMG_2131I don’t have it figured out — far from it! My overwhelming reality is that when I get to heaven, I will realize how far from His way I have lived. But I feel thankfulness and hope in this, not condemnation or despair. Thankfulness for the time and freedom to seek His face, and hope that He is transforming me and my life daily to better reflect Him.

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6 thoughts on “When Everything Around You Is Changing

  1. Love your words Louise,
    I am so grateful for the years behind me that have led me to my most wonderful and loving Savior. And excited about the years ahead to walk in greater awareness of more growth in relationship with Him and others. I have a grandbaby that reminds me he needs to hear and see God’s grace and love from me.
    Thanks for your reminder!

  2. Lou, my favorite part was paragraph three of # 3, living in obedience!
    I have been lost before but not In the Lord, in myself. I am so grateful that the good Shepherd called me back by name, that my ears were open to hear his voice, and I can live in obedience. I know i will fail sometimes, but confess and be forgiven, for his Grace never fails.
    Love,
    Mames

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