Faithful Living: Seek God’s advice for midlife opportunity

“Feeling a bit bombarded by opportunities?” my husband asked the other morning as he watched me contemplate my life over a cup of steaming coffee, prepared with coarsely ground beans and boiling water in my new fresh press coffee maker. “It’s your eyebrows — they’re all bunched together and you’re staring off into space!” he commented.

I must have looked pretty silly, no doubt about it. I’m not known for my poker face. I’m frequently far more transparent than I prefer. But his awareness that I am more introspective and contemplative than usual is not a bad thing as I maneuver in what I’m calling my female “Midlife Crisis.” Frankly, I’m not wild about the term, for it implies that I’m heading to the local sports car dealership or considering a change in husbands — neither of which happens to be on my list! I prefer to approach this era as a grand time to reinvent, rethink, and perhaps get back to dreams placed on hold decades ago so I could be the kind of fully-engaged mother I intended to be for my three babies.

Nineteen years later, my life looks dramatically different and so do the kids. They are beginning to fly away from the Klope nest. And while they still need me to be a strong mother, my interaction with them needs to adapt to their burgeoning independence. With greater frequency they are out and about, attending school, working, and driving on their own. This gives me increasing amounts of time to give thought to ideas that don’t necessarily revolve around them.

I’m asking God for a new spirit of adventure. “May I be bold and daring!” I pray to the same God who once heard, “Give me strength to get up numerous times during the night and still be good humored and energetic during the day!” There is also yet another request: “Show me, Lord, how to proceed!”

Such dialogue with God has everything to do with practicality. Perhaps you are wondering what task to volunteer for or job offer to accept. I think taking such matters to God is perfectly acceptable and good. Necessary, in fact, But beyond all this, perhaps we should be asking a batch of other questions, as well: What did God have in mind when He created me and what are the gifts God has granted to my use? How might He use them to serve this world?

Of the multitude of opportunities out there and the limitless number of needs, how am I to respond? How do I set a course when there is so much that threatens to take me off course, producing boredom, frustration, and feelings of inadequacy?

I admire those who know themselves well and easily identify how they fit in and what they are to do. My young friend Caitlin is such a gifted artist I cannot imagine her not going into such a field when she is grown. And every time I look at a framed picture of a bird I have hanging in our home that was drawn by my husband when he was in grade school, I smile: at nearly 48 he is still impassioned by anything that flies and is rarely without a pair of readily available binoculars!

Lifelong passions bring us deep joy and satisfaction, so why is it we often sacrifice, or worse, ignore these areas of our lives?

It is here that I believe God dares to venture with us and this comes as a great surprise to many who only see God as a distant, demanding entity. In the Bible we read that God longs to give you the deep desires of your heart. We can be assured that this is a team effort, for God likes the interdependence that is created when we question Him, requesting His direction and strength and insight. And in this era when people value quick information and willingly submit to instant gratification, no matter the cost, I believe that God longs for us to be less reactive to life and more contemplative, instead. There is certain nobility and decided growth when we anguish about the choices that lie before us.

“What are you trying to teach me Lord, and what plans have you already devised for my good that will be revealed over time?” These are the questions of a faith-filled individual; questions that will span a lifetime.

If you are depressed and stressed, bored and testy, struggling and juggling, it is never too late to begin (or continue!) asking the tough questions, venturing toward a little heavenly intervention. Perhaps it is time to look less at what seems easiest or will please the most people and consider the old concept of “God’s will.” To begin building a consensus deep inside that combines our skills and gifts, interests and obligations with God’s direction and energy is sure to clarify the muddy waters, bring energy, vision, and deep joy to these hurried, complex lives of ours.

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