I think we’re still asking each other, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Early years of “growing up” turned into “growing up” in marriage and nurturing children then sprouted on to life-ministry, relationships, and work. Looks like I’ve been “growing up” for over 50 years now.
As our children left the nest, I grew right out of my sleeves as my arms stretched longer and longer to reach around each one from a distance. My stride has also lengthened as I walk it out with Jesus in prayer.
Sometimes the growth spurts of life leave you wondering if anything really “fits” anymore. What role do I wear today? Is this situation wearing thin? Does the color of this job still look good on me?
I’m 57 and still growing and experiencing changes in shape and size.
How do my gifts and abilities fit into this season of life? Where do I fit in? What shape is our nest going to take? How do I grow into a nurturing parent of adult children? Am I strong enough to be the attentive Nana I want to be? Can I stretch far enough for ministry changes? Is there room enough for healthy margin in my work? Have I added enough vitamins and supplements in my marriage to keep it active and healthy? And where is that pocket friendships are supposed to fit in?
Conversations with my daughter prompted it all …the life coach thing, that is. A recent opportunity of regular sessions with a life coach– who seems to ask just the right probing questions — has unearthed the reality of the longings within her heart for life and ministry. I wanted that.
I’m not sure if it was an issue of finances or fear of stepping into the unknown with somebody else unknown, but I decided to turn to a trusted friend I’ve known since college to brainstorm how we could come up with this life coach thing together somehow …for free.
That brainstorming phone call led to another conversation with an insightful, spiritually minded friend at work who recommended the book, Conversations on Purpose by Katie Brazelton. One thing led to another until we decided we would launch into a very organic, loosely organized weekend retreat together. The goal was to ask each other the “right questions” (that we were going to glean from the book, of course!) and hopefully get us thinking more intentionally about what on earth we’re doing with our lives!
Four friends …three who had known each other for over 30 years and one new-comer who graced us with objectivity and fresh eyes.
A question that had already been growing in my mind based on my new word for the year was, What revives your soul? What activity makes you feel truly alive? Who makes you feel most like yourself? Ask yourself, “When I’m doing ______________, I feel most alive.”
The answer to that series of questions would dictate where and with whom I invested quality time each week. One–or some combination– of those elements would now become an absolute must-have to maintain life-giving spiritual, emotional and physical health. This is now non-negotiable.
Other key questions surfaced partly from our study guide while others erupted from the sheer fact that women have a knack for what I call, “squirrel” thinking — jumping from one topical tree to another to verbally process a thought.
These questions focused on who in the world are we in the first place? It was like looking behind the secret curtain revealing the wizard-wanna-be in the Wizard of Oz as he was trying to manipulate levers and gears to hopefully accomplish something magical and impressive on stage …where everyone could see. Why do we do what we do in the first place? What are some chief motivators? Where did we learn to do that?
Are there silent motivators or personal expectations we have inside the secret places of our mind that move the levers and gears of our activity in life in hopes of projected our best image in the eyes of others?
Are we bored? Just surviving? Guilty? Stressed? Feel you have no choice? Or no brain cell left in that gray matter to process?
Answers to these questions usually leave you with a keen sense that you might need a little help. From that humble space, we looked at friendships and relationships that could help us as accountability partners, mentors, role models, etc.
Friends, this will take some time to work through. It’s much easier to fall into a rut and stay there than it is to plow up the hard earth and plant a new row of life-beans.
We need trusted friends to walk together through this process. With that in mind, our little group is committing to get together for more friend-life-coach sessions throughout the year because it matters. Life matters. Our lives matter and those coming up behind us whom God has placed in our paths need us to keep the soil rich with nutrients along the way so they have healthy life-meals to sustain them along their journey. This gives hope to others traveling with us, those coming up behind us …and even those yet to be born who may one day hear the stories of our lives.
Never underestimate the power of your story …for now …and for eternity. Nothing is wasted but we have to stay intentional. Keep plowing. Keep planting. Never give up. Grab a friend and have those intentional conversations and I’ll try to keep sharing some questions to prompt all of us as we journey this new season of life.
One of the greatest gifts of friendship in my life has been that women have called out the strength in me that I didn’t know I possessed and helped me rise to the occasion of life.
Female friendship has been at the core of all societies for this very reason.
There is a fierceness and a flexibility in womanhood, an ability to overcome despite insurmountable odds.
Patient, clever eyes, looking for a way to make things work, to stitch life together like a colorful quilt made out of scraps.
We are stronger together.
Together, we can go a little bit farther.
Joy Clarkson — with Sally and Sarah Clarkson — in a guest post for Ann Voskamp
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I hear you!
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Speaking of friends, we need to get together soon. Your retreat sounded fun.
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Sounds great Becky! I’ll send you a message with some days that might work!
A-men sister girl, so excited to see what’s next 😉
I’m sure I’ll be asking YOU a lot of questions, my friend! You’re great to process life with !! Can’t wait to see you again and “travelwithwendy” !!! 🙂 Love you !