I have noticed over the twelve years or so that I have been home full time, and basically free from parental obligations, that it would be easy to lose focus or purpose in my life. I have watched as many other women have struggled with depression, illness or have even lost their way after their children have left home, or they have retired from a rewarding job.
I was thinking about this the other day and there doesn't seem to be many books written on the subject of older women, but not yet elderly. What is it they seem to need at that stage of life? I know for me, I need a purpose, a focus and to feel needed. It seems many loose this after their productive child rearing years are past. Ecclesiastes has a lot to say about the different stages of life. In the beginning of chapter three is a familiar passage that encompasses several items we struggle with in our 60's, 70's and 80's. It states that there is a time to build up and a time to tear down, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to keep and a time to throw away.
I was visiting with an older lady friend last night who has just moved from her spacious, beautiful house into a small apartment in a retirement center. She has embraced the idea that there is a time to build up, a time to plant and prosper and a time to keep. She is now in the stage where it is her time to uproot, tear down and throw (or give) away. It struck me how graciously she is doing that and finishing her race well. I know that we each have individual personalities, and each of us handles things differently, but the sadness and depression I have seen seems universally present.
There is a circle of life, and it does no one good to mourn over the part of the circle that is no longer yours. Finding a purpose in this newest phase of life is key, and the primary purpose of course is to love God and enjoy Him. Secondly, I have made it my purpose to lovingly take care of my insurance man and provide him with good food, good company and clean clothes (among many other things). Ecclesiastes also states: "Enjoy life with the husband whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun, for this is your reward in life." In my case I am home alone most days as the insurance man plans on many more years of working in his career. I do not have a retired husband in the home, and many women at this stage of life do have parents to care for, a husband at home at least part-time, an adult child living in the home or even a disabled family member present. Their purpose should be clear. But for women who do not have family to care for, this is the time to find ways to serve God and continue to enjoy life.
God has given me a renewed passion for music, and God has rewarded me with piano students to share my love of piano with. This has been good for those who can't afford music lessons as well as for those who can. But, I know that I am the one who gets the most blessing and rewards. It provides me with grand kids when my own are far away. It provides me with people (Moms and kids) to interact with on a weekly basis. It brings laughter and chatter into my quiet house. It keeps me from being too selfish with my time. It makes me continue to learn in order to teach well. It makes me feel NEEDED. Here are last years students after a spring recital, and I have added two boys and two adult women to the roster this year.
embroidered pillowslips for wedding gifts, to birthday surprises. I have time to sew for my granddaughters and time to spend talking with all my daughters. All women at this stage need interests and hobbies to keep them busy and productive.
There are always health challenges during the older years, but being kind to ourselves in allowing rest times and a slower pace helps.
And finally, I find great contentment in doing what God places on my plate. It's seldom easy or expected but always rewarding. We continue to have a big house, for now. It has been our conviction that as long as God allows us to live here we will share it. And share it we do, as God brings many, many people through our doors. Some months it seems that we have a revolving door. But that is a ministry that I can do while being home and while the insurance man works. There are so many things God will bring into a woman's life when we listen and follow His plans. These priorities have brought beauty and purpose into my life and I hope will bring the same to other women. If beautiful God-honoring living has been the foundation of your life, the new phases will reveal that foundation ever more clearly as things (health, possessions, family) are slowly stripped away, and once again we return to simplicity before walking into our final phase of life with Christ.