Are we nearly there yet: it’s the phrase dreaded by parents everywhere. Growing up in England, I spent much of my vacations trailing up and down mountains in the Lake District and North Wales. Being the eldest of three – and having been raised to be fiercely competitive – I was desperate to make each summit well ahead of my more laid-back siblings.
Fast forward thirty years and it’s a different story. Age, child-bearing and a failure to prioritize a healthy lifestyle have left their mark on my figure and on my energy levels. These days my legs protest at even a modest incline.
While I’m making a determined effort this year to eat well and exercise more, I suspect that my days of charging up mountains without pausing to draw breath are well and truly behind me.
I’ve noticed, too, that other bits of me don’t function as well as they used to. I volunteer my husband to carry the heavy bags for me when we go shopping. Some days my hip joints ache for no apparent reason, or my knees resist and stiffen when I’m climbing the stairs. Although I had near-perfect vision until my early forties, I now struggle to read a restaurant menu without first delving in my handbag to find my spectacles.
None of this would be so bad if I didn’t also make the mistake of using my physical limitations as a yardstick for assessing my spiritual development.
Naively, I assume the aging process and spiritual decline go hand-in-hand. After all, in my younger days, my beliefs were confident and unshakeable: I was fired up with all the things I wanted to do for God. My faith was real, but its outworking had an unhealthy link to my perceived invincibility rather than the astounding power of an almighty God.
I’ve had to re-evaluate the things I’ve done since those heady days as a new believer. Spiritual regrets cloud my memories: I could have been bolder about sharing my faith, or paid greater attention to those opportunities to serve others. In my darker moments, I’m tempted to think life has passed me by – spiritually as well as physically – and that I’ve somehow missed the chance to become the person God intended me to be.
The last few years have brought significant upheaval to our family, and I find myself in a season of confusion and – dare I say it – disappointment.
In September, our youngest child will head off to university, leaving my husband and me alone together for the first time in well over 20 years. All of a sudden, our three ‘kids’ are (mostly) independent adults, making their own way in the world.
My head tells me this is a good thing, but my heart is inconsolable.
This has coincided with a complete change in the leadership structure at our local church, so that I’m no longer sure of my role there. Leading worship – which has been a joy and a privilege for a long time – is awkward and uncomfortable. I wonder whether God has something else in store for me, but when I ask for clarity my prayers evaporate like morning mist.
An unwelcome thought nags at me as I wrestle with these issues: perhaps I’ll never do something ‘big’ for God. Maybe the story of my life will simmer down to a sequence of daily chores: a celebration of the mundane.
I read Paul’s words to the Corinthian church: Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16b). I embrace the stark reality of the first phrase, while failing to accept the truth of the second.
In my yearning for dramatic revelations and instantaneous change, I forget that God tends to use the small and unremarkable details of life to nurture and teach me. Too often I look for personal significance and vindication in my roles as a mum and as a worship leader and ignore the fact that renewal is about what God is doing rather than my own achievements.
Instead of worrying about whether I’m ‘nearly there, yet’, I guess I need to learn to appreciate the journey.
How about you?
- Are We Nearly There Yet? - May 25, 2016
8 thoughts on “Are We Nearly There Yet?”
A cynic might dismiss this by saying: Mid-life crisis. But it rings true for me and I think you’ve gained some major insight, Fiona. Thanks, Viktor
Thanks, Viktor – I guess there’s an element of truth in the mid-life crisis label, but I hope I’m learning that my response is what matters here.
I’d say I’m right there with you, Fiona, but truth is, I’m well ahead of you. Kids in mid-30’s, body….well….let’s say the certainties held to I thought were unchangeable fall through my fingers like the sand on our shores. The constants I am comforted with are God’s presence. I’m asking more questions now than ever and finding grace in the waiting. Thanks for your wonderful words today. I needed to hear someone ‘like me’ 🙂
So glad you found it helpful, Debby. I love your description of finding grace in the waiting – I’m sure that’s something God’s speaking to me about, but so often I try to run ahead, anyway.
Such wise words, Fiona! I think we all have to reevaluate things we believed in our younger days. The years do bring experience and wisdom, and though we may not do as much physically, God is still working in and through us. I love what Debby said in her comment about asking more questions and finding grace in the waiting. My kids range in age from 19 to 40, and I find myself trusting God more and more with their lives as they move through adulthood. Great post! Blessings to you!
Thanks for your encouragement, Gayl. You’re so right about having to trust God more and more with our kids’ lives – I thought this would get easier as they moved into adulthood, but letting go feels too hard at times! Blessings to you, too.
Hi! I just want to challenge the idea that we cannot do “big” things for God in our everyday lives. I think that’s a trap of Satan’s that we so frequently fall into – the feeling that our lives are mundane and we are therefore useless to the kingdom. God often calls us to do kingdom work right in our place, and preach the Gospel through our actions. He is asking you to do big things right now, right where you are!
Hi Joanna, thanks for your comments. You’re so right that God can do big things in and through our everyday lives. I guess we need to be careful to remember that God’s idea of “big” can look quite different from ours!