Yes, I do have a new PART TIME JOB (at the Spoon River Pregnancy Resource Center in Canton). And, yes, I did RETIRE last August. I definitely knew The Lord had said that part of my race was done. I knew I didn’t want to work that hard anymore, but not work at all? There was no place in my brain to even process that as “life”.
So—retirement one year later. What did I learn about myself? What did I learn from God? Suffice it to say—-I hope quite a bit.
Initially, I was thankful to let my throat, my feet and my mind rest. Not thinking about teens having sex was leaving room in my brain for other far more pleasant topics! The problem was I truly lost my identity. I had no idea who I was and where I belonged anymore. “What do you do?” Nothing. I am retired. My sense of loss was overwhelming. My self esteem went in the toilet. So many of my friends were still working. They had a place to “be” every day. I was just struggling not to turn on the t.v. at 9 and watch The View! Not that there is anything wrong with that! I was just scared I wouldn’t get up—–for the rest of the day! As I wrestled and wandered through the weeks, my main motivation was to fill my days with activities that would have value. Mondays were the worst! I had a whole nother week to try and fill with…. what? I didn’t know. Staying super busy was very much how I had done life ALL of my life. Now my energy and focus was put into FINDING ways to stay busy. Then my husband went on a business trip to Malaysia! Who goes there? I had no idea how to fill 10-12 days and nights with no job and no kids. Lord, would I really be alright or would I finally land in a deep dark black hole? I honestly was not sure. I am not a good enough writer to convey how deep my sense of loss was at not having a job or how much I missed the daily social interaction with people I dearly loved. How much I feared being alone and seemingly having no skills that anyone wanted to tap into. But I knew it was where The Lord wanted me to be. But, Lord, I still have the desire to teach, just not so often! Do I not get to teach anymore? Have I reached the part of my life that says—I use to be an…..ugh, I could not deal with that as a reality. Please don’t get the idea that I spent each day crying, depressed, lonely and unable to have fun. I did have fun! But….part of this process daily involved trying to calm my frantic desire to find value and just enjoy the moment. I actually did so many things that I love. But it took me soooooo loooonnnnggg to appreciate having the time to actually do them. It took months for me to be ok staying home all day—truly not leaving the house and enjoying that. The turning point seemed to come early this summer. In June I read a book by Tim Keller entitled, The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness. Life changing.
One morning after reading this, the thought came clear as a bell. Am I going to continue to make plans for my day or am I going to let The Lord plan my day and be willing to wait? What things does He want me to be involved in??? The reality was and still is—-as Tim Keller puts it—-the verdict is already in! I do have value. I don’t have to prove to ANYONE ANYTHING because I am loved and forgiven just because I am HIS. Teri, STOP struggling for purpose and significance in activity and rest in ME. As this became clearer to me that I had done this ALL of my life, and now today, since August 2012, HE was offering me REST. He WANTED me to rest. He wanted me to relax, find refreshment, reflection, respite and renewal in Him. HE wanted me to rest. It was God-given time off. How could it have taken me so long to realize that? I had actually been offered the job at Spoon River last October. I realize now that had I taken that job, it would have been for many WRONG reasons—most of them about me. A place to “be” and a new identity. I had abilities that others found valuable. Now, I can honestly say, I have come to enjoy more and more of my days without plans to stay constantly busy. I even stay home all day on occasion! I am looking forward to working part-time at Spoon River. The Lord has given me vision for moving the ministry forward–using many of the things I learned throughout my career in Peoria. Am I concerned about failing at this job? Not really — it honestly isn’t about me. This is the Lord’s work in His place for His glory. It isn’t about me. I cannot tell you the freedom I have found in that realization. The Lord is at work and I get to join Him. What a thrill. Until next time…..