One month into being an “empty-nester” and I’m trying to, as they say, “Get back on the horse.” Having life as an at-home mom for the last 20 years end literally overnight has caused a bit of a blip on the radar screen. Okay, to be honest, it feels more like a complete blackout!
Life is like that, isn’t it? Whether it’s a life change in circumstances, facing the death of a loved one, losing a job, moving to a new city, starting college far from home, or losing everything in a disaster, life is guaranteed to serve up overwhelming circumstances. And when we’re standing in the shadow, the darkness is all we see. The key is to eventually let God lead us out from the shadow to where His light is still shining in the source and sustainer of light, Jesus Christ.
Jesus has been showing me His light in subtle and slightly admonishing ways this past week. The first instance was in hearing my dental hygienist talk about her 90-year old mother who lives in an assisted living facility. Her mother is almost blind, but her mind is sharp. I asked if her mother is still positive about life. My hygienist answered with an enthusiastic, “Yes! She never complains!” And although the 90-year-old mother said it would be nice to have her vision again, her attitude was that of, “If that’s the only thing wrong, I don’t have much to complain about.”
Then, Tuesday night, as my husband and I stood in our backyard watching a full pearlescent rainbow, our 84-year old neighbor came out and joined us. She lost her husband--her best friend--in March. As we chatted, she mentioned that she and her sister were going up north to go hiking and to climb some rocks where they knew there was a great view of the valley below. Then they were headed to her cabin for the night. My neighbor’s exact words were, “We’re going to have a ball!” In my thoughts, I knew exactly what my neighbor was doing. She had decided beforehand that she and her sister “were going to have a ball.”
The third way God spoke to me this week came in the form of a July 9 interview with Dick Cheney in The Wall Street Journal. Commenting on the 5 heart attacks he’s survived since age 37, Cheney said,
“You could, and some people do, become so fixated on the disease that they, well, they don't get to get on with their lives. You've got to get on with your life."
Well said. We can go so completely inward in our sorrow, grief, melancholy, memories, aches, pains, recovery, frustrations, etc. that we don’t ever come out. Even Jesus wept. But He was also obedient to His Father’s will, and in obedience got on with living life on this earth in the unlimited Grace of the Father.
Cheney also provided a humble reminder of the brevity of time on earth when he said,
"No matter what kind of problem I've run into, there's always been a solution for it. Now, obviously, there will be a point where there aren't any more solutions, and I'll have used up my time. We all do."
Good reminder! Time here is not time in heaven. We’ll have eternity up there, but not here. Time here is a gift God gives to use for His glory and furthering of His kingdom down here. Ecclesiastes 3:1 assures us there is a time for everything. Not just one thing, like pain, but everything, like healing and joy and new experiences. In short, moving on. If we stay stuck in the one painful thing, Satan gets a foothold and God can’t use us, or our experience, in the next thing here on earth.
Funny, isn’t it, how God ministered to me this week through the former vice president, the mother of my dental hygienist (a woman I’ve never even met) and my elderly but very robust next-door neighbor. Instead of feeling sorry for myself over my kids being gone, I’m inspired to ask God to grant me a get-on-with-life attitude and a grateful heart too.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12