Recently, a friend that we hadn’t seen for a while asked my wife Tammy how I was staying busy in retirement. That’s not an unusual question. Some people are almost afraid of retiring because they think they will be bored. Others can’t wait to retire so that they can travel, play golf, spend time with their grandchildren, etc.
I’ve been retired just over three years now, and while we have done some travelling (the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns made that difficult for all of us for over a year), we’ve played very little golf. We both enjoy writing (the Coram Deo Blog and Tammy and I have each written a book), reading and spending time with our new dog Clara. I’ve continued to do some mentoring and participate in our ongoing breakfast book club. But we have found an unexpected benefit for this season of retirement. Retirement has given us time to focus on friends and family in a way that we simply couldn’t have if we were still working.
Jeff Haanen in his excellent book An Uncommon Guide to Retirement: Finding God’s Purpose for the Next Season of Life, writes that reconnecting with family is a genuine joy of retirement. He tells us that for many, serving kids, grandkids, and aging parents is central to a sense of vocation in this season of life. While we don’t have children or grandchildren, retirement has freed us up to spend time with friends and family that wouldn’t have been possible while working. Here are five examples from this season of retirement that I am speaking of:
My Dad. Retirement allowed me to spend precious time with Dad before he died in September, 2020. We would go out to breakfast, watch golf on TV, eat Portillo’s, and at times we would just bring him and his wife some ice cream from Gene’s, a local favorite. I’m so thankful for those special times with Dad.
Neil. After I retired, I began spending a few hours on Wednesdays with Neil, a dear friend from church who suffered for many years from a rare form of Alzheimer’s Disease. Our time together almost always consisted of walking together. When the weather permitted, we would walk on a nice outdoor trail in our community. During the winter months we would walk inside the fieldhouse of the local university where Neil taught for more than thirty years as an Economics professor, and I had graduated from. Those were special times with Neil, who died in February 2021.
Triplets. Although Tammy and I don’t have any children of our own, we’ve always enjoyed being aunts and uncles (and now great-aunts and great uncles). Another special blessing in retirement has been getting to spend time with three wonderful triplet boys, now approaching two and a half years old. Weekly, we get to spend time with them and their mom on our “shift”, as well as seeing them on Friday nights at family dinners.
Tammy’s Mom. Tammy’s mother has been widowed for a few years now. In retirement, we get to spend time with her a few times each week, usually for lunch on Tuesdays and dinner on Friday nights. She is definitely my favorite mother-in-law!
NXTGEN Pastors. I’ve enjoyed assisting one of our pastors in leading a NXTGEN Pastors Cohort. In these sessions, we teach soft skills modules (leadership, marriage and family, emotional intelligence, etc.) to seminary students. These are subjects that they would not get in seminary. We’ve had the pleasure of working with five young men since last fall.
My Brother. As I write this, my brother has been in the hospital for 46 days in his battle with COVID-19. Fortunately, the Lord has shown amazing grace and spared his life. During this time, retirement has freed us up to help support his wife, and visit him, as all of us grew closer to the Lord during this trial. Prior to this, my brother and his wife, both of whom were recently retired, were themselves spending a good deal of time caring for her mom and husband.
Retirement is an excellent time to not only enjoy the fun things that God has blessed us with, but also to focus on others that you didn’t have time to when you were working. If someone were to ask you how you were “keeping busy” in retirement, what would you tell them?