Sunday, August 1, 2010

Greetings from the "OTHER SIDE!"

Well, I've officially crossed over to the other side. I can no longer pretend to be a young adult. Today I turned 40. Am I middle-aged? Old?

Something about that number - 40 - seems big. It has loomed in front of me for months. It feels significant, somehow monumental.

Life has been REALLY busy the past few weeks (as you can tell by my lack of blog posts.) I have a sticky-note on my desk with seven things I want to blog about.... I just haven't had time. We've been working, playing, celebrating, swimming,..... Hopefully I'll catch up with some of the highlights. But in the midst of all that busy-ness I have felt reflective, nostalgic, and prayerful.

In the forefront of my mind has been the thought that I don't want to be 40. It just seems old. I definitely can understand now why people have babies in their twenties instead of at 35!

But my heart is not really sad or scared, but filled with gratitude. I am so very blessed. As I look back on forty very full, rich, amazing years, I am absolutely awed --- brought to my knees --- by the steadfast faithfulness of God. One thing I know for certain is that God has been truly present in each and every twist and turn of my life. He has led, guarded, protected, taught, inspired, challenged, comforted, sustained, empowered, and amazed me. Most importantly, he has been PRESENT with me and for me. Without fail. Even (especially) when I have ignored Him and/or turned away from Him.

I am so independent and strong-willed and impatient. As a young adult I really tried to make a plan for my life and make it work. It just didn't. Then, I spent more than a decade just begging God for CLARITY, saying, "Lord, just tell me what to do and I will do it." I never got the "lightning bolt" I prayed for, but I can see now that God guided me in the baby steps that I could handle and brought me exactly to the place He wanted me to be.... to this place, this vocation of marriage and motherhood. Not just any marriage, but marriage to Jon. And mother to Ray and Adam. My life with them is challenging and crazy many times, but there is such a deep peace and joy at the heart of it. I longed to be here. I just couldn't make it work on my own. I didn't know what my life was "supposed" to look like. Thankfully, I have learned (not easily) how to let go of control just enough to allow God to lead me.

I know that the next phase of my life will be all about letting go.... a little bit at a time. I am treasuring these days with my young sons, knowing that they are on loan to me. My job as their mother and teacher is to equip them to live good, holy, healthy, happy lives WITHOUT ME some day. Perhaps a good image for my life journey is that of God unclenching my hands....teaching me to trust in Him and allow Him to work through me.

Today's Mass readings were very powerful for me. I was especially touched by the Responsorial from Psalm 90:

R. (1) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Some of the words of this Psalm can seem so harsh, but they made perfect sense to me today. I was reminded that time is not what we need to hold onto.... that God's time is not the same as our time. Rather, we are to open ourselves to God's voice, to His presence and Love. We are to seek "wisdom of heart" and allow ourselves to be filled with his joy and kindness. We have to let go of our own control and agendas to do that. And only then will our work bear real fruit. Only then will we find the wisdom, joy, and peace that we truly desire.

And so, I'm 40. Realizing what amazing things God has done for me and through me so far, I can't wait to see what lies ahead.

This weekend was filled with celebrations. I promise to post the details this week. I am so thankful for my family members and friends who celebrated in such special ways with me. I feel truly loved and cherished and supported, even in my "old age!" Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
All praise and glory to our magnificent God!

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