Rocking Ordinary
Comment 1

I Didn’t Ask to Be In This Stage of Life

The thought washed over me with the warm water of the shower, the suds flowing down to mix with my tears. I never wanted this, never dreamed of this, never aspired to reach this stage. 

Motherhood was scary, but rewarding. As a young mother, I enjoyed growing up with my children, learning alongside them and even from them. As I became more comfortable, even confident, in my roll as Mom and homeschool teacher and screaming soccer fan, I didn’t dwell on what comes next.

Empty nest is for old people. Women with short, grey hair in sensible styles wearing sensible pants and sensible shoes. Not me, in my highlighted bob, khaki capris, and tennis shoes with insole support. I’m entirely too hip for that.

The entire empty nest metaphor gives me the heebie jeebies, any way. For one, I hate birds (they freak me out, thanks to Alfred Hitchcock pointing out their sinister plans to poke and flap us to death). And nests are dirty, smelly things with rotten eggs and scraps of fur and old hair and germy feathers. I don’t want any kind of nest, empty or not.

whatever-roadSo I never have any intention of emptying my nest . . . except apparently I’m already starting. My firstborn has an address over a thousand miles away. My daughter is actively looking for places to go even further. I have more goodbyes, more birthdays apart to look forward to.

Last night, I couldn’t stand the emptiness at the dinner table any longer. I removed the leaf, making the large oval we had shared for over a decade into one small circle. I convinced my husband to hide the extra wood under our bed, but he couldn’t hide the hole in my heart.

I never wanted this life stage. I looked forward to births, family trips, and holidays. I still enjoy dreaming of adoptions, marriages, and grandbabies (later, much later when I’ve achieved the “old people” status referred to above). I even look forward to a good night’s sleep, to peace and quiet, to reading a book cover-to-cover in one sitting. But I never really wanted anyone to leave.

In my more lucid moments, I wonder if we don’t all find ourselves in similar unwanted stages sometimes. We wake up one morning with that rock in our stomach and squeezing panic in our chest at the sight of the weird, unwelcome life path we’ve wandered into:

  • an unplanned career
  • a difficult marriage
  • long-term financial struggles
  • special needs in our child or spouse
  • chronic illness
  • closed ministry
  • unfulfilled dreams

Well, there’s usually no turning back (sing it with me, no turning back). And if we did turn back, our hair would poof out in front and we’d grow shoulder pads.

So there’s no choice but to keep going forward, you and me both. I can’t push the 200 lb man back inside my belly (ouch! Getting him out in the first place was hard enough!), and you can’t wave a magic wand over your spouse or children or bills or self. What can we do?

Accept God’s plan.

I couldn’t really stay in the shower and moan and groan all day. Well, I could, but I’d end up all pruny and hungry and that’s not attractive. So there was nothing to do but to acknowledge this is where I am, this is the life God has for me now.

That may seem really obvious in my case, but often times we get stuck at the “wishing this were all different” stage. And that is NOT the stage God wants us to be in. That’s actually too close to Eve’s “I wish I were more like God” sin that messed everything up in the first place.¹ Resting in faith, right here where God has us, is, ironically, the first step toward success.

Pray for God’s perspective.

I’m struggling with this one every day, because naturally, I see only negatives. My son is gone, I’m beginning the “old lady” phase, the best part of my life and my family is over, it’s all downhill from here on out, blah blah blah.

That’s not God’s view of my life, I’m sure, because He works extraordinary beauty in our ordinary lives. This part of my life is not a surprise to Him (though it clearly caught me off guard, in spite of the clear and irrefutable evidence it was coming). Daily, I’m fighting to praise God in my regrets.

  • Thank you that my son is at a Christian school.
  • Thank you that he has a semester paid for.
  • Thank you that his voice sounded so happy, so confident over the phone.
  • Thank you that his mother’s amazing homeschooling produced this astounding scholar with requisite humility.
  • Thank you that the remaining children are pleasant to live with, that our family is full of joy and happiness.

Get back to work.

God still has stuff for me and you to do. Like, I walked in the door after dropping him off at college, and there were three large bags of laundry, filth all over the floor, a strange smell upstairs, and a broken vacuum. Cleaning and buying a new machine and folding clothes keeps me plenty busy, on top of the homeschooling and writing and talking about Rocking Ordinary and playing the violin.

We don’t have time to moan and groan, we’ve got things to accomplish. More importantly, God has things He wants to accomplish through us. We have people to love and friends to pray for and Scripture to memorize and ministries to fulfill.

During our lifetime, we travel many roads.

Whatever road you find yourself on right now, know this: You are right where God wants you. He will lead you all the way.

All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.

All the way my Savior leads me,
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.

— Fanny Crosby

How about you?

Are you on a different path or in an unexpected life stage? How are you seeking God’s new plan for your life? Leave me a word below.

¹This is a reference to Rocking Ordinary, chapter 4

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1 Comment

  1. Deb Zorick says

    Lea Ann , You are an inspiration to women everywhere. I love how when you expose the everyday ordinary, it touched lives and hearts of myself and other women struggling with some of the same issues. Thanks for letting us know it’s okay to have feelings and that God’s got this!
    I pray you have a blessed day and keep on Rocking Ordinary! 😊 Deb Z

    Liked by 1 person

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