Thursday, October 20, 2011

"What do you do?"

“So, what do you do?”

For now I hate that question. But I understand why the question was asked by many of the newly reconnected friends. I was recently at my high school reunion. It had been 37 years since I graduated so the yearbooks scattered in the hospitality suite were a lifesaver. I did not recognize most of the faces, but neither did anyone else. No matter how our current body images compared to our yearbook pictures, one thing was certain. We all had aged.

And we all had stories to tell from our journeys since leaving the tiny subtropical island of Okinawa. I would venture to say that most, if not all, probably had stories we never could have foreseen. At this stage in our lives, we had no reason to compare and compete with each other’s stories. We were way past that. As I heard many stories, good ones as well as painful, I observed an absence of masks, a willingness to be vulnerable. The stories were told without excuse or defense. The atmosphere was fragrant with honesty and unpretentiousness.

The only thing that unsettled me was that question. As I said earlier, I understood the question to be a natural one. It was not framed by a need to compare, but by a desire to know me. Yet this question exposed my current “story in the middle.”

I’m not sure what I do.

I mean, I do a lot, but I don’t have a focused “do.” I don’t have a job or career. I’m not pouring myself into one ministry. My weeks start out fairly free but then fly by because I find plenty to do and people to meet with. Now that my husband is retired (sort of), we are enjoying our time together, making up for all the time we sacrificed to raise our kids and he sacrificed to provide so I could stay home. But I am not ready to retire.

Instead I find myself in this in-between life stage. I’ve lived 55 years, been a Christian for 39 of those 55, a wife for 32 and raised 3 sons. In those years I have accumulated stories that are beginning to reveal themes and to lay a pattern that I hope reveals God’s purposes for the last stages of my life. Lord willing, I may have 30 more years of productive life to live. But I have yet to hit my stride. I have yet to say with confidence, “This is what I was born for. This is what I was created to do.”

So I wait. I stay in this “story in the middle.” I resist discouraging thoughts like “It’s too late” or “I’m too old” or “I’m not good enough.” Instead I keep pursuing Christ who knows me, grows me and shows me, not necessarily the road, but just the next step. And I remember that “late” is irrelevant to the eternal and sovereign God, “old” is appreciated when accompanied by wisdom and maturity, and what is truly “good” can only be declared by God.

If anyone else asks me “What do you do?” this is what I will answer.

I can tell you what I’ve done. I can tell you what I hope to be doing. But what I am doing now is enjoying everything I can do while I wait for God to connect what I’ve done with what I will be doing.