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Posts Tagged ‘seasons of life’

life chapter

Every season of life has it’s eb’s and flows. Every chapter is written with both beginnings and endings – joy and sorrow. New characters, dreams, and life lessons are introduced, as well as new hurts and grief. Maybe these are just the realities of growing pains, but no season or chapter is ever easy.

I look back and can see my different struggles and areas of growth through every season. College ignited questions of identity and faith; interestes and direction. After college surfaced the tension of anxiety and dream. Wide open spaces of creativity and curiousity led the charge. My late twenties and early thirties have brought about new dreams, locations, and career shifts. It has been in these last few chapters where I feel like I have fumbled around the most.

Every season carries the weight of real trials and challenges.

Every season carries with it current issues for that age bracket. The things that I struggle with in my early thirties are not the same as those issues that seemed hard in college. However,  I do believe that each chapter brings with it the challenge of identity and community.

College

College is easy to find somewhere to belong. People were always readily availableto interact with and cultivate lasting relationships. Post college begins the effort to find community. The abundance of people groups drastically diminish after college. So we find small groups, work friends, or maybe join a running group.

20/s 

The twenties begin the stage of “all your friends” starting to get engaged and married. You might even experience a time of long-term transition with moving to a new city, or experiencing the revolving door of friends moving away.

The questions of our twenties looks like, “Do I want to be married?” and “what do I want to do in life?” In this stage, we are still fumbling around trying to figure out who we are and where we fit.

30’s

My thirties have been a variation of my twenties. I am more comfortable with who I am. My dreams and career are taking on a much clearer form. But the questions change a bit in this chapter. The question of the thirties look more like, “why am I not married?” and “why is community so hard?”

Community is a challenge in every season, but the thirties bring with it a grey area of no place to land. We are the “in-betweeners” for church ministries, as in we are not college kids, or young adults (groups dominated by early 20’s folks.) We are the not-sure-where-you-fit group.

By this stage most friends, who got married in my 20’s stage, are now on their second or third kid. So I  experience an even more displaced and lonely feeling as a single person. Finding good community seems like the biggest challenge in this chapter of life. As a single person, how do I fit with my married friends? In a church community, where is the place I can land where there are other’s “like me?”

As a married person, I wonder if you struggle with trying to know how to relate to your single friends, or even friends with kids.

Every stage of life has it’s question marks and challenges.

What are YOUR  questions and challenges in YOUR season?

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Sometimes I feel like Swiss cheese of a person. cheese

I have holes in me that seem to still have question marks – still ache from time to time. Grief reminds me of my holes. Each one has a label of sorts.

Some days I spend time wondering about what would have been with my holes. You see because grief leave a mark and void in our being. We learn to compensate and function through these holes, but they are real and very present.

Some of my holes ache in simple ways. I miss everyday things and routines that could’ve been.

The other day I was thinking about my dad. He loves gardening and traveling. We used to have a big garden and evidence of mysterious places ventured around the house. Looking back it makes me wonder… I wonder what life would’ve been like for me on those everyday levels had he not started a new life. I wonder about what different memories I would’ve had in my life had those small things been around.

There is deep grief that is felt when change happens. I ache over small and everyday things that I miss. I am not a person who likes change, especially when it is a result of hurt.

Small things are just as valuable of memories as the big things. Smells, words, and familiar places can bring out memories and questions. I think it is okay to take the time to touch the scars and feel the ache.

Every chapter of life will bring on different stings to grief, but it will also bring on new healing. Grief is not a linear process. It has no warning or timeline. Grief only has a Healer. 

Joy and sorrow are harnessed together for life.

What kind of every day things do you miss right now?

How are you experiencing grief these days?

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Reflection is a powerful thing when you are willing to risk it.

Reflection carries with it a heavy weight and tension – it can sting with bittersweetness.

In one way, reflection is that hindsight that brings clarity into view. We can objectively see those decisions that could’ve been better made, or “aha” moments enabling understanding. Reflection can lead to new insights and dreams. It can also be a road map that determines new destinations in life seasons.

Reflection bears a tension. It is a two sided coin.

I feel the tension of reflection all the time. I am a feeling thinker. I feel my way through processing. I also think deeply about most things and situations. I like to understand every angle. Half of the time, reflection brings on that “ugh” feeling for me. I see more clearly the mess I am.

Reflection can illuminate the gaps in my life, as well as my imperfections. I often times see the ways I have failed in communication, friendship, responsibilities, and even possibilities. I hate that feeling. I hate realizing I dropped the ball on something. It is so hard looking back and seeing the ways I responded out of my fears and insecurities and caused hurt. AH!

Henri Nowen states that reflection can also “remind us of the gap between our willing and our doing, our desires and our performance, our calling and our achievements.

Reflection bears the weight of incompleteness.

When we risk looking back over chapters and seasons of our lives we can see dreams and desires. We’ve all made decisions to take certain paths in life. Looking back, for me, speaks of how far I still am from my dreams. Sometimes I leave reflection with more thoughts of regret and “if only…”

I struggle with the gap of what was and what is still yet to come. Incompleteness is hard for me – waiting is even harder. I battle with discouragement if we are being most honest.

Don’t get me wrong there is encouragement in reflecting on how far we have come. It’s life giving to see steps made. There is just a tension. It’s like that feeling of sitting in a boat that has cast off from one shore and still a long way from another.

At the end of reflection there is hope that bridges the gap between looking back and looking ahead. There is redemption for past failures and imperfections. There is hope for possibilities and new shores to land on.

Nowen also states that “reflection makes us realize that good comes out of imperfection, strength out of weakness, and blessing out of fragility.

As you reflect it’s okay to struggle with what you see. I still hope you risk to see. Reflecting is meant to be empowering, healing, and motivating.

What have you been reflecting about lately?

How do you struggle in the process?

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Sunday marked the end of an era for the church I spent half of my life attending.

I spent my junior and senior year rocking out with the youth group. I spent several summers learning how to build community with our college ministry. After moving back to the DC area, I served on the leadership team and led a a bible study for our young adults group.

This church has discipled and shaped my life and faith.

A couple of years ago our church decided to make the hard and challenging decision to leave the Episcopalian diocese and join the Anglican community. We stepped up and stepped out because we are a church who wants to be known for following hard after the truth of scripture.

After a long fought out legal battle, we lost our property. I don’t think anyone anticipated this change to our story.

While I am home visiting, I got to be a part of our “lasts” for this chapter of our church. We celebrated hard the last chapters of life lived out in faith in that building.

I watched as generations of leaders who changed my life stood up and were honored. I looked around and smiled as I saw so many friends, new and old, that I have experienced different chapters of life with. I just felt a deep sense of gratitude.

New chapters of life always begin in unexpected and uncertain ways. All of my initial thoughts about this legal process is that it’s unfair, and not the way it “should’ve” ended. We are trying to stand up for the right thing.

But doing the right thing does not always yield the “right” ending that we think should happen.

Nonetheless, we are asking God to flip the page and start again. Sitting there Sunday night, I realized that I have been asking God to do the same thing in my own life. This new chapter for me has been written in ways I have never anticipated.

Honestly, some of it has seemed unfair or not the way I think it “should” be written. Today, part of me smiles as what seems unfair is also what is “right” for me.

I have been limiting God’s writing skills by trying to figure out what is understandable and responsible, rather than believing in His abilities.

Some endings have no rhyme or reason they only make for good beginnings.

My hope stands in this, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

That’s a good beginning!

He is the author and perfecter of me. I just need to let Him write.

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Have you ever experienced a time where you found yourself in a waiting season?

I will admit to being a person who struggles when it comes to waiting.

Our fast paced culture does not enable waiting well. People who are waiting constantly look at their watches and are most likely agitated.

Waiting can be accompanied by fear as well. Waiting can stir up the fear that someone has forgotten us. Fears that arise when in a waiting season can challenge our sense of value.

How do you wait well?

How do you wait well when the season of waiting seems long?

Now waiting for the bus is way different then waiting on a dream or direction. Waiting can cause us to question and doubt. Waiting requires faith and trust. Those two words are very challenging.

Andy Stanley did a great series that tackled the question of, “what do you do when you feel like God is inattentive, uncooperative, and late?

All three of those words come to mind when experiencing a waiting season. I battle with those words a lot, and sometimes on a daily basis, in this waiting period. It is hard not to play the comparison game and even be jealous when it comes to waiting.

Waiting seasons challenge my faith and trust. Waiting is lonely.

Andy talked about a key verse that speaks directly into the heart of waiting. Jesus said, “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.

Such a powerful verse! This verse speaks to waiting. Waiting comes with the expectation that God should do something—that he should do something for me. Honestly, I have expected God to do something and act in my waiting. I used the words that God knows my situation; he is able to change it.

Ever felt like God is silent when you don’t think he should be? Ever felt like he must not care if he is not doing something?

We can start to equate our situations with how God feels about us.

Blessed are those who do not stumble when we feel like God is inattentive, uncooperative, and late. Blessed are those who choose faith even though the waiting continues. Blessed are those who choose to hope when hoping seems in vain. Blessed are those who still know God is able regardless of the waiting time.

I am holding on to the truth of Andy words that, “our situations do NOT reflect the way God feels about us.

I am working on waiting well. For me, that means not letting it affect the perception of my value and self-worth.

What does waiting well look like for you?

 

 

 

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