The Age of Replacements: An Undiscovered Manuscript by Edith Wharton

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How I sometimes see myself. The one in the back is seriously school “marmish.”

I have an uneasy soul. It doesn’t rest well, but instead rises and falls on the whims of my emotions. Silly soul.

I’m far too contemplative—but not in a good way. This week I started “contemplating” whether or not I actually please God? What do I do that pleases him now that my life is so much smaller? Am I less relevant?

I say my life is smaller because I sort of lost my identity. It happens to all of us in some way—particularly in late middle age. Wait a minute, I’m not sure 58 is “middle-age” at all. If it is, I’ll live to 116. Let’s see…if the average lifespan of an adult woman in relatively good health is 79.26 (I looked it up), then I’ve finished with 73% of my life. So middle age doesn’t work any more. Maybe three-quarter age? Or end age? Oy to the vey! Scary. Time to buy the funeral plots and get the will in working order. 

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Love her face and can identify with the eye bags. Ouch moment.

Hillsong United at Relevant Studios“End age” brings with it a change of circumstance, which is why my life is smaller. My cronies all have some sort of age-related chronic illness or pain. A lady in my Bible study asked us to pray for her husband who just had hip replacement surgery. They are in my age category (58-68). I had an “ouch” moment. Forget Oprah’s “Ah ha” epiphany—this moment hurt. All of a sudden I realized I was at THAT age.

The age of replacements.

I was teaching last semester and one day “BAM!” I realized that words like “experienced” and “wisdom” were thrown my way quite a bit by the 30 and under crowd. I also saw an unintentional lack of respect and relevance thrown in just in case I didn’t realize that maybe I needed to step back and let the new generation step forward. An “ouch moment.” Time for a walker and sensible shoes.

The age of replacements.

Next week I will get a couple of shots in my spine in order to relieve some disc discomfort. Can I get an “AMEN”? I’m not working this semester. Instead I’m taking care of myself and my hubster. I’m cooking more suppers. I’m spending a lot of time writing and praying and seeking ways to be relevant.

2366525625_e02339e349_nI’ve also been volunteering at a local pregnancy crisis center for a year now. I work as a mentor for young women who are pregnant and lacking the support system in place to sustain her. No judging. No condemnation. Just love and support in the name of Christ. It’s a very difficult job—mentoring. You basically step into a young woman’s life and try to show her how to parent and how to find purpose and a future.

It makes me think about what kind of mother I was. Ever wonder what those stinking mistakes are for? How God can take something awful in your life and turn it into good? (Romans 8:28) My life is an example.

If you’re at “Three-Quarter Age,” you’ve no doubt had some pretty awful life stuff happen. Maybe you’ve seen how God has taken that experience and made something good out of it. You’ve been “repurposed”! (God is a DIY master.) Hallelujah! We can take those years of experience and failure and joy and use them for something relevant. My failures help me relate to what my young mothers-to-be are going through. I know the rawness of life.

They need to see what redemption looks like.

The Irreplaceable Age

My purpose has shifted. My dreams have shifted. My routine has shifted.

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One of my many bookshelves.

When I started teaching, I realized I didn’t know very much. For 21 years I kept learning and learning, devouring every bit of information I believed essential for teaching. I learned humanities, British literature and history, American literature and history, colonial literature and the history of Africa and India’s colonization, how to use Photoshop, digital cameras, in-Design, world literature, and how to write essays the College Board would love. I read constantly. The library was–as is–my friend.

The result: I still know nothing, Jon Snow. (Game of Thrones allusion) The world is too huge. And there are too many books.

On Wednesday mornings, I sit in my Bible study and realize how much time I had spent reading everything but the history of God’s word. I listen to women cite chapter and verse with depth and sincerity. I envy their knowledge of something so relevant.

So what if I have all the knowledge in the world? If I don’t know the Word…if I don’t cherish the truth found there…if I don’t have the passion for it that I had for Cormac McCarthy or Flannery O’Connor, then what is my life worth? How can I be relevant during my “Three-Quarter Age”? (See Mark 8:36)

Have I studied the wrong thing? Do I regret my hard-earned knowledge? No. Not at all. God gave me a passion for the written word. And God used the written word to communicate with his creation.

But I regret the lack of balance.

So now I have a chance to really study the book that is my source of truth and wisdom.

OK. I’ve rambled long enough. I’m using up too much of what time is left to me now. I need to get back to God’s word. It’s waiting. He’s waiting. And I’m confident that he will guide me towards a purpose that fulfills me and glorifies His goodness.

We are at an irreplaceable age.

 

 

photo credits: 

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/23119147@N08/2217889245″>welsh women</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/67084790@N03/14929069710″>DSC_1126</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/7203470@N03/2366525625″>Playing with light</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>

 

 

 

 

 

a meditation note for the dark night…no, not batman

So many prayers going up today. My brother-in-law was furloughed from his position due to the government shut down. (He has a PhD in microbiology–a brilliant man who is cancer free after a long, scary though inspiring bout with a lymphoma of the central nervous system.)

No politics here. Just praying that our leaders will start thinking about how their infighting is affecting the people they represent.

Praying for my baby sister (married to said brother-in-law mentioned earlier) who continues to take care of her extended family even after teaching a full day…with middle schoolers.

These two people inspire me. Despite the many many trials they encounter, they continue to trust God both in word and action.

My sis and I have lovely text conversations. I am not a phone talker and neither is she. We convey our lives and love for each other via extensive text conversations. And we lift each other up in prayer daily. Or almost daily. I love it and need it. Just a little note that says, “prayers going up” seals my day with promise.

I think my sister and I are both experiencing the “dark night of the soul.” I’ve heard this phrase periodically and it describes that valley we all experience at some point where God seems so distant and we feel so disconnected. It’s hard to see past the immediate pain to a place of peace and rest–particularly when the “night” continues over a period of years.

Despite the desolation during the “night,” my sis and I both crave the Word of God and turn to Him constantly for hope and promise. Our parents provide great examples. Their Bibles sit right beside them all the time.

We need some Bible-sitting time. I’m headed there now. To my “closet” where God meets me. I talk; He listens. He talks (through the Bible–not in some crazy Morgan Freeman voice);  I listen. And take notes so I won’t forget. And then still forget. Definitely need some closet time.

 But first, another incredible ditty (Meditation Note) from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers: 

“The true test of our spiritual life is in exhibiting the power to descend from the mountain. . .We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life–those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life, and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength.” (emphasis mine)

 The dark night of the soul. 

Have you experienced a “dark night”? Please share if you are comfortable doing so.

As Paul so eloquently writes, grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 *The “Dark Night of the Soul” is a poem by St. John of the Cross written in about 1578. It chronicles the soul’s journey from suffering on earth to its final resting place at home with God. Give it a Google. It’s interesting.