To some of you, that may sound like a relatively young woman. To others, that may sound old. I’m in a middle place but the grays are here, I’ve had my first hot flash, and sometimes I groan when I have to roll out of bed.
I’m not quite ‘old,’ perhaps, but I’m certainly heading that direction. One of the things I’ve been working on lately, is what Jordan Peterson calls “cleaning up your own room.” Twelve-step groups sometimes call it “cleaning up your side of the street.”
Essentially, I am working to focus on my part, and quit getting caught up in the swirl of all the messes I happen to be able to see from my vantage point.
“THE THINGS I CANNOT CHANGE”
In life, we often can’t clean up or repair what others have chosen, or are choosing. Whether people in the past who negatively impacted my life, family members whose choices impact me, or strangers. I don’t get to pick what other people do/did.
The Serenity Prayer’s first line (bolded) provides input about this:
The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
As a child of God, I am not stationed everywhere. I do not have responsibility for everything.
While He may occasionally give me influence, input, or capacity to assist someone else as they clean up their ‘stuff,’ there are many, many things that I can not change.
It is wise, and can lead to a place of peace, for us to recognize and release those things we can’t change.
COURAGE TO CHANGE THE THINGS I CAN
God has given me a particular ‘station’ of life where He has placed me— and that includes the option to certain choices, and not others. I can’t do everything, but there are certain things I *can* do. I’ve been trying to focus there.
For me , that includes:
- Paying attention to the physical messes around me
- Opening my eyes to the people in front of me/in my community
- Shopping local when I can– blessing people and families I can see
- Cleaning my actual room(s) more (I still need deep work on this one)
- Decluttering my possessions, so I have less inventory to be responsible for
- Noticing the ‘ways’ of my home and working to help things function better
- Putting effort toward making our home warm, edifying, and lovely
- Seeking to resolve hurting relationships when/if there is offense that I am responsible for
- Facing up to what’s real— naming what’s currently true– even when it’s hard
- Going to counseling when I need it
- Joining focus groups/studies/workshops when I see that I need them
- Taking the ministry opportunities I have, and using the gifts I have
- Not sticking my head in the sand and avoiding growth
- Noticing what my physical body is actually like, and working toward long-range health and usefulness
- Telling myself the truth about the things going into my mouth, and being aware and intentional about my food choices when I can
- Thinking about life decisions with more time and intentionality about considering what I really want, long-term.
“WHEN I’M AN OLDER WOMAN” — WHO DO I WANT TO BE?
Something that’s coming up more in my brain is: remembering what I wanted to be — “when I’m an older woman”– back when I was a younger woman.
Who would I have described? What did I anticipate she would be like and value? Am I becoming more like that?
Here are some of the things I think I would have named, and some things I now value (whether or not I knew to value them when I was younger):
- I want to be a woman who keeps growing.
- I want to be a woman who offers grace to others, so they can grow, too.
- I want to be kind.
- I want to stand against evil.
- I want to pursue intellectual growth and seek to understand history, the world, and the people in it.
- I want to know God’s Word– not just the “facts” of it, but the heart of it. I want it to be the source and substance of whatever flows out of my mouth and life.
- I want to prioritize transmitting the gospel of Jesus to all peoples, around the globe.
- I want to have a body that is healthy and strong enough to do whatever God has for me to do.
RELATIONSHIP WITH DOUG
- I want to keep knowing one another deeply, and growing in the depth of our love and care for one another. I want him to know that I am ‘for’ him and with him.
- I want our intimate life to be satisfying and fun for us both.
- I want to encourage and support him in the things God has made him to do.
- I want to contribute to a relationship where each of us can share hard/uncomfortable truths, and we can deal with them in the light, together.
- As our children leave our home one-by-one, I want to increasingly pursue joyful adventures with him.
- Through whatever highs and lows come, I want to trust the Lord that He is actively using our relationship to make each of us more like Jesus.
RELATIONSHIP TO FAMILY
- I want to work toward the relational interconnectedness of my extended family– willingly becoming a ‘matriarch’ who helps various children and in-laws keep in touch with one another’s goings-on
- I want to be the kind of woman who, when family members let me see where they actually are, I can be trusted with it and will go on offering abiding, warm, dependable love.
- I want my family members to know that I am ‘for’ them– that I want their long-term good.
- I want to entrust my family to God in prayer, and as they grow and make their own life decisions, humbly recognize which parts are, and are not my responsibility.
- I want to provide a ‘home base’ where my adult children can launch into the world feeling valued, knowing they are loved, and that we will always work to have a meaningful relationship with them.
RELATIONSHIP TO CHURCH/COMMUNITY
- I want to serve Christ and His Bride, the church, with my whole self.
- I want to keep a home that serves the needs of the people who live in it, blesses our church family, and blesses the people around us.
- I want to bless the pastors, elders, and deacons of my local church, who edify and care for our family.
- I want to use my gifts (including teaching & writing) to help spur people toward the peace found in Jesus.
RELATIONSHIP TO SUFFERING/CHALLENGES
- I want to face life, even with its challenges, and live with continued zeal, rather than hiding from the difficult realities of life.
- I want to rely on the strength and joy of God (and not turn toward self-reliance) when hard times come.
- I want to live with hearty, resilient, eternity-focused joy, and deep-rooted confidence in the gospel of Jesus, in the face of real dangers, discouragements, and loss.
I don’t know how often you’ve done self-assessments. But perhaps this week could be a good time to put some words to paper and remind yourself of your big-picture vision for the trajectory you prayerfully want to be on.
- What do you value?
- What do you mean to prioritize?
- What do you hope your character and thinking will be like as you move through the world?
Old age is coming. Who are you becoming?
Grace and Peace,