encouragement,  Life Help,  Mom talk

A Time for Everything

1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT

Because I am currently in the middle of the biggest transitional periods of my life to date, I’ve been contemplating the race set before me. It is extremely strange for me to be at this stage – honestly, I thought it would take longer to get here.

I’m a mom with no “children” because they are mostly adults. I’m a homeschool mom whose students have spread their wings and flown. I’m at the end of that lap of the race; I am now in the stage of the journey that is focused on forcing myself to turn around to embrace the future. Although the future is full of all varieties of potential joy and fulfillment, the call of little voices and feel of small hands in my own are still close enough and fresh enough that I sometimes find myself longing for those years of familiar and comforting messy chaos that seemed to go on forever – until they didn’t.

I’ve been thinking about happiness, and how the longing for it pulls at us at every stage of our life races…

I’ve been contemplating how the pursuit of happiness is touted as the ultimate goal in life, and from a young age, our dreams and goals are centered around the gaining of it. If we do not actively guard against it, the longing for happiness and comfort becomes our standard – the parameters that mark the path on which we dream of running the race of our lives. When life inevitably and consistently gives us anything but this, we can become agitated or even depressed. Yet we all know from experience that it isn’t in the avoidance of pain that we find joy and fulfillment.

For me, the memories that bring the biggest smiles are usually an inseparable intertwining of life’s hardest stuff and the deep joy found in the fulfillment of God’s promises in the middle of it all.

I’ve journaled these thoughts as I’ve prayed for courage to step out once again into the unknown of this new life stage… Could it be that I actually cheat myself out of running well the race set before me, by trying to avoid or escape the pain that I (may) encounter? Could it be that pain and happiness, brokenness and completeness are actually intertwined and inseparable – that one without the other is only part of the picture of life?

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 says: 1 For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.

The words of those verses echo through my heart.

About the letting go of one stage in order to embrace the next…

My husband and I bought our current home fifteen years ago, in early spring of 2004. Although our new home was cozy, the decor was reflective of the elderly lady from whom we purchased it. Retro late 80’s ducks and wheelbarrows of flowers marched around the country blue wallpaper border in the dining room, and built-in China cabinets covered a variety of walls throughout the house.

Over the years, I would occasionally indulge in a daydream session or two about what I would like to do to update our home… a fresh coat of paint, new flooring, updated countertops, a new kitchen stove that actually had all of its factory-made parts, and of course, more bookshelves.

But

We had four children ranging from 10 months to 10 years old and lived on a single income, so updating the house wasn’t even on the list of our priorities. It was livable and a considerable upgrade from our previous home, so the small uglinesses of our surroundings were easily overlooked. Years passed, and our cozy house began to be filled with the stuff and memories of life.

The front window where we put the Christmas tree in such a way that the ugly, old fashioned lace curtains left there from the previous owner framed it perfectly… the section of the wall that our youngest decorated with pictures drawn in purple chapstick… the stick-down vinyl floor tiles In the dining room that were worn through from the foot traffic through the house… the built-in kitchen stove that had steadily fallen apart from the moment we moved in, until there were more pieces missing than remaining… the stained countertops where we had simultaneously made countless meals and carried out science experiences… The scratched and dented built-in hutch in the dining room that had served as the center of our homeschool for more than a dozen years… Soon, every inch of our home was worn and threadbare but bursting with memories – images of our gang at various ages and stages, and still the fragments of decor from the previous owner that had become the familiar backdrop of it all.

Three children have grown out of our home, leaving the youngest behind with only a couple of her childhood years left. This one was the one sitting on my hip as her daddy and I first walked through it. She has grown up under this roof, her feet have traveled a million times up and down the stairways. She has lived my dream of growing up in one place.

This year, my husband and I decided that it was time to begin to work through some of the renovation projects that had been piling up over the last decade and a half. It’s a decision that is both wonderful and painful – completely representative of the current stage of my life and heart.

As we ripped out the old flooring in preparation for the new, beautiful planking to come in, I saw my kids at various ages, interacting and learning, skipping, running, and dancing through life…on that old flooring. Every scratch, dent, and stain had a story.

As we worked together to lay the new flooring throughout the main level of our home, I saw it as a visual of how we are working together to prepare to embrace our next stage together. How many little grand-feet will run, skip, and dance through life…on this new flooring?

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.

Even as each stage of life comes in steps, so has the new flooring. Room by room, we’ve worked together to measure cut and fit together the new planking, creating a beautiful and resilient covering that runs smoothly throughout the main floor of our house…but the new trim is still not in, and the wall between the kitchen and the eat-in area is marked for demolition but still standing there, waiting to become a peninsula. So much progress has been made, but there is still much to be completed.

This is true for me too. Typing out the words of this post has helped me to take a deep breath…and to exhale slowly.

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.

So, today, I’m choosing to look up to the One who holds the life stages in front of me, to embrace the change, and to run the race that God has designed for me to run, because although my future is unknown to me, it isn’t unknown to Him.

Follower of Jesus. Wife. Mom. Word-addict. Writer. Teacher. Speaker.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

shares
%d bloggers like this: