Long ago when we were young and newly married and having children, we were in the building stage of our life. We got married so one plus one equals two. We had children, add three more. We bought a house, another addition.
We both worked before we had children until I chose to quit my job and become a stay at home mother because it was necessary to have someone raise the children and manage their transportation to school and friends homes and Dr. appointments.
The early years were fun, fairly busy and exhausting. There was always something that needed attention, and I was the one that had to attend to it. As the children grew up they became more independent as they navigated around in their own orbits in their own world. When they left home they left an empty spot in my life which was very difficult to fill.
In this day and age, more often than not, both partners within a couple work out of necessity. This is true even if they have children which creates its own set of challenges, but at least when their children do grow up and leave home, there is something left for the Mother to focus on by way of her career. This was not the case for me. My children remained my focus and so my challenge was to find balance in those relationships.
As the years went by, and after they began the building of their own lives they became progressively more busy, while we found a lot of time to fill. We went out and got a hobby in the guise of a part time job we each enjoyed. It helped fill the hours. We did a lot of traveling which also helped fill the time. We volunteered at church which allowed us to get to know more people.
Growing old is a major change in ones life. In our younger years, the change transforms us from feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities that come with years of preparation for retirement, hoping we will have enough to get us by when the time comes, to a time when we are trying to figure out how to fill all the excess time.
On top of this, we begin our reductions. In the beginning of our life we are busy building and adding, but now it takes on the form of dismantling as we unconsciously get ready for the next stage of life. All the things we purchased in the building stages of life we begin to eliminate. Out they go as we remember how much we paid for them and we wince as we realize they are no longer needed. We should have known since we saw the process all before with our own parents. But, we never really relate to the generation before us because we are too engrossed in our own busy, youthful lives.
I now see that this is part of Gods perfect plan for those of us who continue to age and move towards old age. It is all part of His perfect design in preparing us to let go of this life. Bit by bit the things that made us feel important and needed are lost to us…our jobs, our children, our health. Granted, there is building and some additions continuing as our children take on partners and have children, but we are no longer central to any of it. We move on from being the sun around which the planets (our children) orbited, and now we exchange places with them. Now it is we who are the planets that orbit around them.
There are a lot of blessings that come with aging, but mostly, I have found it to be a grad course on letting go of all the things that we thought would make us happy in this earthly life. We have to release all of which we gathered and it is rather jolting in the beginning. It is especially shocking when you realize your children are not interested in things you have held dear. We want to hang on to the familiar. In the end, we, just like all those who have gone on before us, are forced to loosen our grip and let all things fall away.
Sometimes I wish there were a waiting room between this world and the next where when we die, we could see our parents and be able to say to them, “Oh my goodness, Mom and Dad, I had no idea what you were dealing with at the time, but NOW I understand! Forgive us please for not knowing how difficult it all was.”
Thankfully, we know that this life is not all there is. There is another, even more beautiful life waiting for us and while we accept that this is so, we still cling to all that is familiar. We do not relinquish the remnants of our life easily, so we find that we have to trust in what God has promised is in store for us. We have to hand over the reins to God and when we do, we feel the freedom that comes with letting go of that responsibility.
There is often a fear of letting go because so much of our identity has been caught up with our being in the drivers seat. Our life has been a repository of all the decisions and choices we have made and we have had to live by them. Letting go is one of the most difficult things we will ever have to do, but once done, a peace takes over in knowing that the responsibilities of this life no longer are on us. We start over in the next life with the innocence of a child living in Gods kingdom with all the wonder and excitement a child feels. Letting go does have its rewards.