I’ve sensed it coming for some time.
Maybe it started when an elbow injury sidelined me from tennis in June, taking me out of a sport I love, leaving a gap where fitness, socializing and competition happily co-existed. Perhaps it finds root in the fact that my role as a mom is changing as I try to redefine what it means to mother my tween son and teen daughter. It could be that I’m uncertain how to proceed professionally with a freelance business I’ve let dwindle over the years.
Whatever “it” is, it’s left me with more free time than I’m used to. The schedules that ordered my days have dwindled. Where some might find an amazing sense of freedom, I’ve found restlessness and disorder.
Obviously, writing has filled the gaps. But I’ve discovered too much time alone in front of a computer screen is...well, too much. Too much time to think, ponder and analyze. Too much time to question my purpose in life. Too much time to look around and compare how much more filled/gifted/important/busy/meaningful others' lives seem to be.
Without the externally-induced “to-do’s” I’ve lost accountability. I can write or not. Volunteer or not. Work or not. Clean the house or not. Exercise or not. Call a friend or not. The “or nots” have gained the upper hand, adding to a creeping sense of drift. Is this what I’m supposed to be doing with my life? Should I wait for what’s next or plow ahead? If so, toward what?
Deep down, I sense a change of season like it says in Ecclesiastes, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” (3:1)
But, oh how easily I lose perspective and confuse today’s situation with forever’s reality.
Last week I learned from an orthopedic specialist that, short of a miracle, my elbow will not heal in the near future and my “temporary” hiatus from tennis—and many other daily activities—has become a long-term situation. The imminent life preserver I’ve been hoping would help right my sinking sense of self floated away. It might seem trivial, but I mourn this loss as well as my physical limitations.
The siren song of the pit lured me close to the edge.
Down in the dumps and unable to sleep, I took my dog for an early morning walk last week. There’s something about getting out in 20 degree weather and greeting the rising sun that orders one's thoughts—and allows God to speak.
In the brisk morning air, words from Psalm 139 came to mind: how God knows us completely; how there is nowhere we can flee from His presence; and how we’re fearfully and wonderfully made. Startling insight followed.
I knew that even in this in-between place, God’s right hand holds me. He may or may not have caused this time of pause, but certainly He can use it for good. For months, I’d become increasingly focused on what I lacked and lost sight of what I have. I wanted other people’s blessings instead of embracing the unique gifts with which God has blessed me.
I need to stop looking around or ahead, and focus on what’s been set before me. Surely with the gifts He’s given me, I have much to contribute to the Kingdom. Shouldn’t that be enough?
Jesus said it was: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33-34)
So, I choose to focus on today. I choose to trust His divine guidance of my time, my writing, my work, my family and my friendships. And I choose to follow—even if I don’t know what lies ahead.
What season of life are you in right now? Are you using the blessings God has specifically given you or are you yearning for the blessings of others? What steps do you need to take to trust that God has hemmed you in and laid His hand upon you?
“O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:1,3,5,9,10,14)
Read all of Psalm 139. Let God speak to you through these beautiful verses.