I turn 55 in a few weeks. Something about turning a highway speed limit has me feeling a little old.
Milestone birthdays cause reflection. Here I am, nearing retirement age, and I wonder, have I accomplished what I hoped as a young visionary?
Maybe like most people, my life has had more twists and turns than I expected.
My main adult job has been: Mom. You never retire from Mom. But as children move to adulthood, your job description changes. Time shifts. Responsibilities alter. I’m still a Mom, just not on a daily task level.
What do I do now? I am trying to dust off some old dreams and dormant longings. Through blogging and writing, and self-publishing my first book, I have readdressed long held desires to be a writer. I always wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jo March, or Anne Shirley. Interesting fact: Laura Ingalls Wilder, the only nonfictional lady in that bunch, didn’t write her first book until she was 64. 64!
But, sometimes I look at younger women who write and speak and minister and I feel like the last one to arrive at the party. Have I missed it? Did I wait too long? Am I too old to start now?
That is my enemy’s lie. The enemy who wants me to feel disqualified and useless. Passed by and irrelevant.
I work to refuse his lie and consider my decades of being a military wife, (moving our family 11 times in 20 years), homeschool educator, booboo fixer, meal generator, vacation planner, sports coordinator (including managing schedules, washing uniforms, transportation to all practices and games), tea party planner, and on and on … as not only a well-lived life, but also training for my work now. These activities were my university classes building a message. Walking with Jesus through the variety of circumstances and struggles and joys and sorrows allowed me to know Jesus deeply.
Let me ask you: what school has God enrolled you in? What message has He carved in your bones? What lesson do the women around you need to hear? Maybe you are the only one to tell them.
Ladies of my generation: the world needs US and the messages born from our particular life experiences. No theory untested here. Our joys and triumphs, pains and failures, give us unique voices which hold a message of God for the women behind us.
We've experienced Jesus's ever present nearness through tough times. BECAUSE of our life lived, our testimony has validity.
Necessary But Not Easy
Our voices and stories may be necessary, but here is a warning: moving into new territory to tell these truths will be hard and uncomfortable. Sorry- but that's the truth.
I recently was blessed with the opportunity to attend Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference. For my first ever writers conference, I attended the Granddaddy. (I have a knack for doing things the hard way.) For me, it resembled the first day of middle school. Think how a minnow in the ocean feels. This was not the conference's fault. Everyone there welcomed and helped. Arms always open.
But unfortunately, every obnoxious girl in my head, who doubts my ability and assumes I am unqualified, also came with me to the conference. They held a party in my brain, laughing at my stumbling attempts to explain my project or get through my elevator pitch without choking. They compared my one self-published book to the dozens written and traditionally published by someone a decade younger than me.
They told me I was too old.
Am I the only one with those voices in my head? Once I finally locked them away in the back room where I couldn't hear them anymore, I could digest some of the richness of the conference. I had to quiet them to hear what God was trying to teach me.
Here is what I learning:
My message, given by God, is my responsibility. I must cultivate and share it out of obedience.
My joy is telling His truth WITH Him, not seeing results. I may never traditionally publish or speak to 1000s. But I can, in relationship with my Redeemer, share His truth to whoever does hear. Maybe my message is for just one person. That is enough.
The women of our world need the variety of messages from different voices so all the audiences can hear truth their way. TRUTH doesn't change, but how we deliver it can. EACH person has a part of that delivery. I must be faithful to communicate to those who need to hear it my way from me.
My writing is really God's work, done in God's way, and on God's timetable.
My job now? Faithfulness. Just faithfulness.
Mommyhood trained me for this. Every day I got out bed, sometime with a bound and sometimes with a groan. I brought the best I could to the table and loved my people with what was available. It required more FAITHFULNESS than perfection. I showed up and shared with my family what I had and asked God to supply what I lacked.
That is what I will now do with the message those years grew in my heart. I have experienced Jesus in the trenches. I want to proclaim His sufficiency. He is worth more than any counterfeit the world offers. His love fills every crack. His mercy washes every sin. His grace carries every disappointment.
Are you nearing or on the other side of raising a family? Or maybe you have lived through divorce or abandonment? Possibly the Lord's path for you was singleness? All these circumstances give you a message of how God has walked you through.
We aren't too old, you and I. But we might be too old to take a long time to get moving. We need to start now. We are the perfect age for our message. Let's tell it well.
What message has God given you?