The latter years are supposed to be the best, filled with confidence, grace, forgiveness, wisdom and contentment. What happens when we reach those years and we have not met the milestones we expected? Sometimes we need to stop, breathe, and take inventory of where we are, have been, and want to go! Little did I know the decision to take inventory would be a kick in the pants that moved me forward in ways that have been rewarding and pushed me to new limits. Do you need a kick in the pants to find the better you? The person you are created to be? Below is my story of how I went from despair to purpose, with God’s help and guidance.
Caught Off Guard
A few years back, I found myself in a position of being not only an empty nester but also single again. My world crumbled as did my self-identity and value. How could I regain my sense of significance and remain true to self in the throes of such loss and sadness? Even worse, how could I remain true to “a self” I didn’t know? Apart from friends, family and spouse, who was I?
I needed to take inventory and search deep within to find the “me” hidden beneath years of serving others. Listed below are several areas that needed in-depth discovery:
My Personal Inventory | Who Am I?
My significance and value could no longer come from the opinions or needs of others. I needed to search higher and inquire of the One who created me and knew me from birth. What did God say about me? Through researching scripture, I found His love, comfort, grace, acceptance, and provision on every page. Then I made a list of His thoughts of me and posted sticky notes around my house as constant reminders that I am loved, have value, and there is a purpose for my life. I used these verses to guard my heart and my sense of significance.
What are my interests, skills, gifts, hobbies, likes and dislikes buried under responsibilities of motherhood and wife? I remembered a scene in the movie, “Runaway Bride” where Maggie (played by Julia Roberts) set out to discover how she liked her eggs prepared as opposed to what others told her. That approach was taken with many things as I realized I could no longer allow others to direct or even dictate my life. That responsibility rested with God and me. So “we” embarked on new adventures, foods, hobbies, and classes to uncover the real me.
My Personal Inventory | Who Am I to Become?
What are my dreams for the future? I allowed myself space to grieve the dreams that were crushed with divorce. Then I gave myself permission to dream big for the future and asked God to help me think outside the box of what “dream big for the future” really meant.
I made a bucket list and began working through the list. At first, the list held small accomplishments or adventures. But as I checked off one small adventure, I added another adventure with a little more risk, cost, and fun! In bucket list items, I discovered more about my interests, fears, skills, strengths and intolerances.
What are my passions? Do I enjoy people or privacy? Serving or teaching? The answers helped me find alignment with my personality and directed me to areas needing further exploration.
Do I enjoy travel as much as I think I do? I embarked on several international missions trips as well as domestic travel to aid in the discovery.
How about work? Am I doing what I want in the latter part of life to be fruitful and enjoy the years, or am I merely working to pay the bills?
Lessons for the Latter Half
In finding my true self, I also learned life lessons that would guide me through the latter years of life:
The confidence to find and fill my life with people who are life-giving, fun, adventurous, intelligent, and have similar values, passions and life purpose.
The power of engaging with life “in the now” and the power of solitude to refresh.
The reminder that stepping outside my personal comfort zone presses me into growth, reveals passion, and opens creativity.
Serving others fills the sense of loneliness and emptiness on the hard days of recovery and healing.
The ability and freedom to say no to things that are not within my realm of skills, interests, or passions.
One of the benefits of maturity is that, as we age, we learn to address and heal from the drama and triggers that hounded us in our earlier years.
Amazingly, as we grow in our knowledge and understanding of who God is, we grow in understanding who we am! In this process of growth, we leave behind the legalistic list of what makes us “look” like a Christian and the do’s and don’ts expected from others. We begin to live in the freedom of Christ by “just being” based on His characteristics we adopt as we allow Him to indwell, teach, and rework us to becoming more like Him. Truly, to know self, we must first know God!
God is good. He takes what the enemy means for harm and brings about healing and change, filled with passion and purpose.
If you feel lost or stuck, take inventory, pray, and step outside your comfort zone to reclaim yourself! God promises to be with us through all aspects and seasons of life. Take Him at His word.
Drawing Near to God: http://maryetheleckard.com/god-speaks/drawing_near/