Just a few months after retiring, a close friend sat across the table from me, cup of coffee in her hand, and a stack of paperwork in front of her and said, “I can’t seem to figure out how I ever had time to work.” I think I understand. Almost four years since both my sons left home, and I’m still trying to sneak in quiet time to spend alone with God. Why is that? And, how did I ever find time to raise two sons?
My sons have been gone for almost four years. Multiple times I’ve blogged about my empty nesting season, and multiple times I’ve re-read them, rolled my eyes and laughed out loud at myself. I’ve gone from activity to activity, taken multiple trips around the country and to South America, attended events, spent time with friends, and even started dating for the first time in decades.
Transitioning from full-time Mom being responsible for two sons, to being only responsible for myself has been, and continues to be a challenge. This is certainly not a blog with all of the answers. In fact, I have very few. Going from everything you do from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep being focused on your children and their needs, regardless of their ages, to suddenly not being needed (which often feels like not being wanted), being allowed to think about yourself, and given time to do things you enjoy does not come naturally for most moms, and it did not come naturally for me. Dating makes me feel as if I’m abandoning my sons. (How absurd!) Thinking of moving feels like Im throwing away their childhood home. And on and on…… Change has never been easy for me, and I will dream up any excuse I can to avoid it.
So I try to find some time for God in between all of the time I’ve filled up with busy activities in my pretty little pink calendar, the one that fits so perfectly in all of my favorite purses – the one I visited book store after book store to find just the right one. Because surely in all of the confusion about how to be alone and enjoy life there must be some blocked off time I can schedule a trip to some far away location where it is more beautiful than the place I live, and quieter than my home. Because…… as you know, God is most certainly more available in the mountains out west than in the sun-less below-zero temperatures of the midwest, and where natural beauty of running streams is in your backyard instead of the strip of condos that were built a little too close to mine. Right ?
I have penciled things in on my calendar for long enough. I have planned my days, made my lists, blocked off time, and traveled enough miles trying to get alone with God. Not until He allowed my 2018 to end with a broken heart did I finally sit down in front of this window, looking out at a dreary sky in sub-zero temperatures, with a view of the abandoned, curtain-less condo behind me did I feel the closest to God. It didn’t take a plane ticket, a suit case, a calendar, or a set of pretty colored pens to jot down my plans. I don’t have anything figured out except that perhaps I need to ditch the calendar and sit still – right here – right where I am in my decade-plus-old plaid flannel pajamas. I’m all done running, and I’m all done insisting on my own plans getting written in pen. Perhaps…. no, I’m certain – My pretty colored pens need to be replaced with pretty colored pencils. From now on, God gets the ink AND the calendar! I am all done trying to figure out how to fill in every block of time!
So here I am at 12:30 p.m., still in my flannel pajamas, the noise of the dishwasher running in the background, the new neighbor’s son crying next door, about the 20th day in a row with no sunshine, and the curtain-less condo directly in view. Amidst all this every day noise and life, I finally sat still enough that I can hear Him. No plane ticket necessary.
Magnificent. Absolutely magnificent.
My 2018 theme? Time. #thanksEdna This ought to be adventurous…..
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
(My translation is – Rita fills up her calendar, plans her life right down to the date she will write the last check to pay off her mortgage, and God goes, “Yeah, that’s not really what I had in mind. Give me that thing. Okay, now sit down and open your ears, child.”)