Readers of my personal blog (from back when I used to blog semi-regularly, anyone, anyone?) know that my oldest son is off to college, the first of my babies to leave home. My other three boys are now in middle school and high school, meaning that not only have we entered the world of parenting a college student, but we've also left the elementary years behind us. It's crazy, isn't it, how fast time flies? Seriously.
Dear friends have sent me emails and texts and have stopped me at church to ask me how I'm doing. I suppose all my melodrama has had its effects and my friends love me and care for me and worry about me.
So, how am I? I don't know; it depends, really. I miss my son, of course I do. I'm much lonesome-r upon the return to school this year than ever, even now in mid-October, some two months in to the school year, probably because he's gone but also because I see how fast his brothers are growing up behind him. For instance, I have no afternoon car line to sit through (or to blog about). One son can drive himself, yes and amen, and the other two are involved in after school practices. It's strange waiting around until 5:00 to go pick somebody up.
Transitions are hard which doesn't mean they aren't happy or good or of benefit. The shift from one stage of life to another naturally carries with it some degree of nostalgia and perhaps a greater degree of unease. Things aren't the same and expectations must necessarily change and sometimes that is more difficult to process and carry through than we anticipate.
Life here in the middle years is good, very good, don't get me wrong. I've testified before that I like my 40's and I do. I will say that life here in the middle years can also be confusing and disappointing and extremely stressful. In other words: hello, transition. It's time to be the grown up and sometimes that's hard, so hard in fact that some days the melancholy weighs heavy and the tears shimmer beneath the surface, ready to fall at the least (dumbest) thing. What then?
I've found my best coping mechanism isn't a mechanism at all. It's truth, the truth of the gospel. When I am tempted to indulge my funk and spend the day on the sofa drinking coffee, eating chocolate and watching past episodes of Masterpiece Theater all the while moping and feeling sorry for myself instead of getting up and getting on with my responsibilities--hypothetically speaking of course--I remember the gospel and that the Lord has granted grace to me, grace that is seen in my yesterday's, today's and tomorrow's...
How quickly I forget the Lord's provision in my yesterday's! Today I grieve the transition of my boy leaving home, not too long ago I grieved the seeming perpetuity of the preschool years. That stage of life stretched long and interminal and I remember being certain that I would never be able to go to the bathroom alone much less sit down to eat a complete meal. The Lord was faithful then even when I despaired of survival, I can trust He will be faithful today. I also find great encouragement in the testimony of other moms who have gone before me and can joyously attest to the Lord's past provision in their mothering. The Lord was gracious to them, He will be gracious to me. I can look too in the Word and read of His glorious provision for the saints past. Will He not do the same for me?
Because of Jesus, I can have confidence that all that I need for today the Lord will provide. Forgiveness, mercy, sustaining grace, strength: all are mine in the power of the Spirit because I belong to Christ. His grace is not without effect to me and for me on this day. I am weak but He is strong! No matter what today holds--happinesses, sadnesses, joys, funks--He is sufficient and His provision is abundant!
This week in Bible study I taught on Noah and in my preparation I was struck by the fact that Noah spent 120 years building the ark. One hundred and twenty years of hammering and sawing and waiting, can you imagine? What could sustain such monotony? Only a faith-filled hope in the Lord's promise--not merely a sort of wishful thinking but the kind of hope that inspires an anxious expectation, a confident assurance that what the Lord has said, He will do. This same hope is mine. Life at the moment may be hard and strange and sometimes depressing but I know that I will see the Lord's faithfulness in my tomorrow's and it is this hope that motivates my preservance. There is future grace, yes and amen!
So, how am I? How is life as I know it? I am busy with the usual laundry and supper and football and soccer and band. I am preparing for and teaching Bible study and volunteering at the crisis pregnancy center. I am praying earnestly and desperately for a specific situation. I am a little lonesome with my boy gone and my others so busy but I am overflowing in gratitude for the Lord's faithfulness and provision. I am sometimes sad but I am remembering and reveling in gospel grace that covers yesterday, today, and tomorrow with abundant blessing and unspeakable joy.