Somewhere back in time, my mind switched from what lies ahead to what has been accomplished in the past. I think it’s similar to coming of age – changing from a child to an adult. You’re anxious to grow up, but the child in you is afraid to take on all the responsibility and pain, yes pain, that comes with making poor choices and facing failure and defeat. When your parents were responsible for you, you could run to them for comfort and encouragement, but now, even though you want their comfort, you know you are going to have to face this stuff on your own and it just sucks. It’s exciting! But it sucks!
As parents, we watch all this going on during the ‘teeter totter’ years. . . one day they’re still in child mode, the next day an adult, until their teeter totter finally dumps them into the adult stage of life. They have to learn how to do the hard stuff – like saying ‘no’ when they need to, especially to themselves. (Something I haven’t yet mastered completely, either.)
They head into young adulthood wondering what will be, humming Que Sera Sera, like a Doris Day fanatic, always looking ahead. And when reality hits, it’s very shocking.
Suddenly, the corporate executive wanna’ be is wiping the butt of a 2 year old and cleaning up tossed cookies – literally. The person who felt they were something special in this world is just another shopper in the Kroger aisle with a fist full of coupons trying to make ends meet, listening to the background music with ELO taunting “Hold on tight to your dreams”. They furiously mail off their Publisher’s Clearing House entries and dream of what they will do with their $5000 a week for life – after they tithe, of course!
Routine sets in. They see themselves in their children’s faces and are confronted with the fact that they owe it to them to find meaning in this world of furious change, and they join Yoga studios, read DIY books, and play video games for hours to numb the pain. Some get lost in the world of movies. . . which wouldn’t be so bad if it were Jimmy Stewart’s “It’s a wonderful Life” where, even though he’s messed up and thinks everyone’s life would have been better if he’d never been born, he learns that he DID make a difference in every life he touched with his kindness and understanding. But the days of inspiring movies with high morals are long gone and we now have to filter through the slogg of waste that qualifies for entertainment. (I don’t know where ‘slogg’ came from, but I like it and I’m leaving it in here to irritate my spell checker.)
“Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans” is not a John Lennon quote, but was attributed to others before him – he just used it in a song. (Allen Saunders quote -1957.)
It’s true. We fill our days with what we’re going to do tomorrow, or next week, or next month. I’m guilty – I’m going to be at the beach in 44 days! I am counting down every day. I have the countdown on my calendar at work and the one by my desk at home. My phone defaults to ‘how many days until May 21st?’ as soon as I say the word ‘how’. . .
(that remark can only be understood by the generation who did not recognize the previous Doris Day song reference.)
We long for stability in our lives and fear change in a world that guarantees nothing but change. And yet, when we find ourselves in that stability that becomes ‘routine’, (a.k.a. boring and repetitive), we long for change! When things change, we get upset because we don’t have the familiar around us and we feel adrift and lost and we, once again, want stability and peace, so that we can rest and not be on guard every second.
In short, we are a mess and need an anchor, a hold, a home that is unaffected by the storms of life that swirl around us. I have found that anchor in Jesus Christ. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. There are no surprises to Him, and He has my complete trust.
As I close in on retirement age in less than 2 years, I find myself spending way too much time rehashing my past and wishing for some ‘do-overs’, trying to balance out the screw ups with the good deeds in my own mind. Why do I do this??? Because I’m human. When did I switch from looking forward to looking back? I don’t know – it was subtle. This is the first time I’ve ever been a senior citizen and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do during these years except trust the One who holds whatever future I have left.
He has given me the gift of knowing who I am (in Christ) and this allows me the freedom to be me, unaffected by circumstances and CHANGE.
Philippians 4:12 “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
It’s an adventure, a joyful one, and I will continue to try to ‘forget the past and press towards the mark’ – Here’s to tomorrow!