I always want to stay positive but real with you. Today I’m sharing part of my recent journey. It starts as a bit of a downer. My prayer is that you will read on to see God’s goodness and that maybe you can find a point of connection and encouragement for whatever you are going through.
Last week I prayed for God to help me quit being Mrs. Grumpy Pants. I realized that over the course of a few months I had let myself be transformed into someone I didn’t want to be. What happened to the fun, enthusiastic person I used to be?
I thought about the past seven years and made a list of all the things that have changed in my life. I thought I had emotionally dealt with them, but seeing the list brought a wave of grief I did not expect. Below are a few items on the list:
- Kids left home—empty nest (I hate that phrasing)
- Writing/speaking ministry dwindled
- Health issues that have kept me from running outside (injured hip and ankle)
- Gene’s retirement—not bad but comes with adjustments
The cumulative effect of the items on this list was a loss of purpose. My job as a mom of at-home kids is over. While it is great that everyone is independent and thriving, at times I still feel the loss and grief.
Also the loss of ongoing ministry opportunities left an empty spot in my sense of feeling purposeful.
What do I do with this huge hole in my life—in me and who I am? I needed to find my new sweet spot and be thankful for all God has placed in my life at this time.
You know I love a good list! So I made one.
My New Sweet Spot:
- Time with Kelsey, Caleb, and The Grands
- Time with Gene
- Talking to Katie and Kerry on the phone
- Writing my blog and a new Bible study for the group at church
- Time with my sisters
- Time with Friends
- Cooking and baking
This new sweet spot looks pretty great too. Here’s how I’m living my new reality:
Family—I am fully present when we together and enjoy hearing their voices and what they’re up to when they call.
Ministry/writing/speaking—God has given me a more intimate feel for what I do. I teach our small Bible study group at church and another group of friends that has been together for years. I write from a different place now—a more intimate-I’m-in-this-with-you-but-definitely-don’t-have-all-the-answers-just-sharing-what-God-shows-me place.
Friends—I’m trying to be more intentional and reach out more.
Cooking and Baking—My new creative outlet. After the kids left home I realized how much I love feeding people. I really miss not having a group around the table on a regular basis. (I have even toyed with the idea of inviting people over just to feed them and so we can talk and grow in relationship. I know this sounds like, well, having people over for supper. But in my mind it is different.) For now I love trying new recipes on friends and family. It feeds my soul and their tummies.
I can’t add running, hiking, or even walking outside to the list yet. My ankle isn’t ready. But one day it will be and I will be back out there and it will feel so good.
I feel like I’m starting more than a new chapter of my life—more like a new volume of my life. And that realization challenged me to rethink how I view this new season of life. My life has been wonderful and fulfilling and this new season will be as well. As with everything I do, it will take time for me to process it and learn to live it. But I will. It’s my next thing from God. Here we go!
If you feel you need to recalibrate where you are in life the following questions might help.
~ On your paper quickly list the changes/transitions in the past 5 years of your life. No matter what. Even if you think you have properly dealt with them, list them.
~How have these changes affected you—emotionally, everyday life, purpose in life, how you do life, how you see yourself, joy, relationships with family and friends?
~Make a new list—what is your new sweet spot? What are the things in your life (or should be in your life) that bring you joy and purpose? How do you feel about embracing and pursuing your new sweet spot list?
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts!
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.