Finding Encouragement

FaithBarista_FreshJamBadgeGJoining tonight with Bonnie at Faith Barista and Ann at A Holy Experience.  And because I FINALLY think I’ve gotten this done in time, with Emily for her wonderful meme “Imperfect Prose.” The topic? In what area of my life am I feeling I need more encouragement?  Not sure I’ll stay completely on theme, but I’ll give it a whirl:




 
Is It Really About Me Now?
My 5-year-old granddaughter did something scary this year: 
she learned to trust herself enough 
to ride her ‘pink and puhple’ bicycle 
without any training wheels.
She beamed with well-deserved pride as she sailed down 
the driveway and into the cul-de-sac where she lives.  
She did it! 
Visibly tense, but still determined, she did it
At the tender age of 5, she conquered that niggling, 
wriggling worm of fear and self-doubt 
that can too often gnaw away at us, 
keeping us from trying something new, something scary.
Sometimes that’s true because we’re afraid we’ll fail – 
that we’ll fall down and skin our knees 
or otherwise embarrass ourselves. 
Sometimes it’s true because we’re really afraid of success 
and how that success might change our lives,
change our image of ourselves, 
change the expectations of others about us.
If I take a running leap off that particular cliff,
and if, by the grace of God and exactly the right wind currents,
I somehow manage to land on my feet,
then what else will I have to do?
How will being successful change how I see myself?
How others see me?
For the last two and a half years, I’ve been meeting with 
a remarkable man for spiritual direction.  
His name is David and he is trained in depth psychology 
as well as ‘missiology,’ 
a topic probably more common for Benedictine abbotts.
He works with dreams – I mean, the things you see and experience when you sleep – and it has been the most fascinating, enlightening work 
I’ve done in a long, long time. 
He, and another trusted counselor, have been gently preparing me for this next, last stage of my life. A stage that could last another 20-25 years,  
given my genetic history,  
but nevetheless – the last stop in a long line  
of different experiences and identities:
daughter,
sister,
student,
friend,
girlfriend,
wife,
mom,
church volunteer,
choir member,
soloist,
Bible teacher,
women’s ministry leader,
florist,
seminary student,
preaching TA,
pastor-in-training,
associate pastor,
occasional writer,
grandmom,
retired pastor. 
So…here I am. At this end of that long list,
that long, interesting list of different hats I’ve tried,
different roles I’ve played,
different personae I have assumed. 
So the question becomes: who am I now?
What adventure is left for me to leap into?
And will I have the courage to make the leap?

Abbot David has been saying things like this to me  
over the course of these last 2+ years:
“This next phase of your life is about you, Diana.” 
Say what?

I am learning that what he means is that in retirement –  
as I move on down the road to crone-dom!! – 
I am no longer bound by the needs of others.  
No children to raise, 
no congregation or institution to satisfy.
Caring for the needs of other people is no longer
at the top of the list for the use of my time and my gifts. 
And to tell you the truth,
this thought is so foreign to my own experience and understanding  
of myself that I find it terrifying
All of my life, I took care of others,  
believing that was what girl children did. 
And all of my life, I tried to be ‘big enough’ to handle that massive job! By God’s grace and a whole lot of therapy, I worked my way through the more neurotic and anxiety-producing parts of that mindset,  
but it still shows up now and again.
An ever-growing part of me believes – and will fight for the rights of other women to believe – that each and every one of us needs to find time and space to care for ourselves – to do the things that nourish and flourish us.
But I admit that there is still a part of me that clings to the strange and partial version of feminity with which I was raised, the part that says,
“You’re just being selfish if you pursue your own interests – if you read too much, if you like to make things with your hands, if you want to write your heart out.” 

So…I’m trying to learn to do some really serious inner listening, trying to find that place inside of me that is really and truly me.  
The part that was told in the 5th grade that I had a gift for writing, a gift.
The part that was told in the 11th grade that I had a gift  
for spoken communication, a gift.  
The part that was told in seminary that I had a preacher’s heart  
and a preacher’s voice, a preacher’s gift for words.
The part that is literally driving me crazy these days,  restlessly moving me to this keyboard at all hours!  

And this is what Abbott David is trying to say to me, exactly this.  That this is a time to push inward, to find the center, to explore what I’ve learned and what I’ve experienced and who I’ve become over this life of mine. 

I don’t know the answer to all the questions yet: Will I be brave enough to take the leap?  Can I set my face like flint and drive down that driveway? Jump off that cliff? Follow that dream? 

What I do know is that I don’t make the leap alone.
I have a Savior who holds my hand and says, “Let’s do it together.  
That’s why I’m here, you know.  
To partner with you as you continue to grow  
into all of who I’ve designed you to be.”  
Maybe I’ll get there yet.

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Comments

  1. Just think! —God has brought you through so many experiences and provided training for you and molded you to be the special “you” that you are, in order to prepare you for your next role, your life’s next chapter! It’s all been building for this coming season! I’m enjoying watching you make this transition. God has exciting things for you, my friend!

    Go for it!

    Smiles,
    Linda

  2. morning blessings….this was very encouraging and well expressed…thankyou…even in using this gift you are ‘helping’ others and changing lives….that’s what gifts are for i believe….Linda

  3. dear diana, i love your place here, and that look on your granddaughter’s face, the joy in succeeding…. in overcoming fear. and i love that you are doing this, overcoming, by meeting with this adviser and seeking wisdom for the next stage of life. a beautiful post. i’m so glad you linked! e.

  4. Wow, Diana, what an honest and amazing reflection of where you are at this stage of life. I feel like I can relate (even as a 20 something), but also read with such curiosity about what you’re going through. One of my favorite poets, Brendan Kennelly, wrote a poem called “Begin.” The last stanza has always stuck with me…

    “Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
    that always seems about to give in
    something that will not acknowledge conclusion
    insists that we forever begin.”

    ~ Brendan Kennelly ~
    (Do Not Go Gentle)

  5. Reading this post makes me think back through the different identities I’ve had in my life… and how, as I aged past the declining demands of earlier years in home, workplace and church, I wondered how I would fill my later days. So did my husband, who retired from his pastorate in 2003. So did his brother who retired from his pastorate several years before him. And yet all the concerns we had never came to pass. So far, none of us has had an overabundance of unwanted time.

    While we may be officially retired, there continue to be opportunities to share the Word in new and sometimes unexpected ways. God knows our limitations, our abilities, our desires and restlessness, and he opens appropriate doors. While changes come and we’re no longer bound by the needs of others, it seems that there is no retirement from God’s call to ministry because ministry is reflected in how we live our daily lives, right to the end.

    Sometimes I think, when it comes to wondering what awaits us, we try to see too far into the future. Being prepared is a good thing, of course, but living our lives in trust is also important. God says he’ll meet our needs. There’s an E.L. Doctorow quote about novel writing that can be applied to life, too: “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.“

    By the way, your written words here are a form of ministry, blessing an unseen readership in ways you can’t know. This was a wonderful post, Diana!

  6. Wow. I never cease to be amazed at the kind and helpful things people take the time to post here in the comments section. Thank you all so very much! LOVED the poem, loved the cheerleading from a 20 something right on through to retired folk. So kind – and so encouraging as I continue to stumble my way around this blogging business. I’m checking out all your blogs as well and finding even more encouragement there!

  7. I am so interested in this part of your journey. I hope you keep writing about it, as you learn more.

    Many of my favorite writers stopped writing as they got older. I always wanted one more book.

    I am searching myself right now, for what I want my life to look like at this stage and in my new city.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

  8. Dear Diana,

    “change the expectations of others about us.”

    There is a reason why we are faith friends. I am standing right where you are at – afraid of success because it will change the expectation of others about me. To the T.

    You are right when you say you are not alone. Jesus is there.. and also those of us who are peering into that place inside and asking Jesus, “It’s time for me?”

    Really?

    Yes, dear friend. Really.

    I too have been that good girl that took care of everyone. Now, God is saying I’ve always seen you, too. And God sees you too.

    Jump Diana. Write your heart out. Speak your heart out. Splash in and other will follow.