mid-life mourning – part 2

๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ด๐˜ต ๐˜ธ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ด๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ธ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฌ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ท๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ๐˜ฃ๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด.๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ, ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ข๐˜บ ๐Ÿท๐Ÿท ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ข ๐Ÿน-๐˜ธ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฌ ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ข๐˜ฃ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜จ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ฆ๐˜ง โ€ฆ

On a very normal day, on a routine trip to the grocery store, I got stuck on aisle 7 when Welchโ€™s grape jam caught my eye and a sudden wave of sadness engulfed me. Fighting raw emotions and a growing lump in my throat, I tried to collect myself, chastising myself for being ridiculous! But that moment was real and valid. After years of making PB&J sandwiches, I no longer even bought the ingredients. A simple task that seemed tedious, one I probably grumbled about on more than one occasion, suddenly felt sacred and the loss of it almost paralyzing.

On another very normal day, while routinely cleaning the house, the duster swept across a piece of furniture that used to sit in one of their bedrooms. A flashback of a full decade watching them grow up in another home, in another time and place. During that decade, we lived in a part of the country I never wanted to call home. I looked for any rescue that would move us away from there.

At long last, the LORD changed my heart and helped me see we had been purposely placed there and I came to treasure that home and that season. It now feels sacred too, the hallowed ground where I learned to hear His voice and receive with joy His planned twists and turns in the road, all the while navigating the ups and downs of parenting soon-to-be young adults.

And now it is gone. Past and done.

An unexpected wave of emotion brimmed again, the lump in my throat grew uncomfortable and unavoidable. Why didnโ€™t I treasure those days and those years more in each moment? Why wasnโ€™t I quicker to embrace that season, understanding it was so fleeting? We were gently warned: โ€œthe days are long but the years are short.โ€ Now I fully know how true that statement is, but there is no going back.

My job of intentionally and attentively seeing my kids off to school and welcoming them back home each day, speaking GODโ€™s truth over them, and encouraging them through their own seasons of life, is now over. The LORD has called us to a northern coast, and our young adults to their own new beginnings that are no longer side by side with ours.

I miss them. More than I ever realized I would, I miss them! After pouring my heart into their days for so long, sometimes I feel lost.

A few months ago, a journaling study from Ann Voskamp helped me come face to face with the swirl of emotions Iโ€™ve been drowning in.

โ€œWhat are you afraid of losing? Can you name those things, people, or stories you hold gripped so tight in white, terrified knuckles?โ€ (Ann Voskamp)

Fear? I had no idea. The core of my struggle was not just grieving a lost season of motherhood, but a paralyzing fear! As I tried to collect my thoughts, this is what came tumbling out:

What am I afraid of losing? Day to day, face to face interaction with my kids, the chance to see them grow and flourish and step into the path the LORD has for them. The realization is hitting hard that in all weโ€™ve been given in this move to our favorite New England coast, weโ€™ve still lost things that are hard to loseโ€”nearness to our kids, unity as a family, availability to them, a sense of building history in a place they could call home and come back to. We hope to finish this home and make it a welcoming place, but it will never be โ€œhomeโ€ to our kids. We will never be a โ€œfamily of fourโ€ here, they will only visit as guests and I donโ€™t ever want my kids to feel like they are โ€œguestsโ€ in our home!

The study continued:

โ€œSharing our fears with our Father regulates them. If Abba Father is not a knot of worry, then why not trust? Let everything loosen into trust.โ€ (Ann Voskamp)

A whole new string of realizations dawned:

I am beginning to grasp this truth: As I transition out of a daily place in my kidโ€™s lives, I can learn to trust the LORD and still need time to heal from the pain of loss. I can trust and still hurt. I can trust and still have hard days. Trust doesnโ€™t equal easy and rest doesnโ€™t equal freedom from pain. Loss is still real and He never asks me to stop the tears or count the loss as less. He does ask me to let Him hold me while I mourn the losses, to let Him sit with me in the grief, to leave space to know Him more dearly through this valley of sadness.

Maybe this mid-life valley is one I donโ€™t want to exit too quickly. I absolutely can trust the LORD to lead me through to the other side, but maybe I need to let Him carry me for a while first. Maybe I need to find His hand in the dark, let Him tuck me away in the safety of His embrace, and learn again to hear His voice of comfort and healing.

I donโ€™t know how, but I feel hope rising that it is possible to sift back through treasured moments in the past, to honor them in a way that leaves me more grateful for them than sad that they are gone. Can those little things that remind me of gifts I once held be sweet surprises that help me relive and savor those moments rather than trigger sorrow or regret?

Maybe this season, a long string of mid-life changes, is a mysterious kindness from the Fatherโ€”the gift of knowing Him more fully, recognizing His intimate attentiveness to the tender parts of my heart. Could it be only here, in this valley, that I will know these truths: in His arms I have nothing to fear and His very best plans are not behind me, but still to come? Could it be exactly here that my confidence will grow in the attentive care He will also, faithfully, extend to my kids?

And maybe, when He knows it is time for me to emerge from the valley, I will realize the beauty of this tucked away time that is preparing me in the best way for any new assignment He has planned for me. For now, I simply ask Him to help me trust Him, one step at a time.

I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken [I will not fear], for He is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. โ€ฆ You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever. (Psalm 16:8-11)

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