Vulnerability in the Middle

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I found myself imagining the Israelites as they stepped between the raging waters as shared in Exodus. Exodus 14:29 tells us that “the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on both sides.”  I imagine it was amazing to see but quite unnerving to participate in. They had no clue when the waters would fall. In those moments, walking between the waters of the Dead Sea they were at their most vulnerable and had only their trust in God to see them through to the other side.

Isn’t that what happens to us the in the middle?  When we are in the middle of suffering and no matter which side we look  are walls that seem to want to crash down on us we are forced to allow Jesus into our vulnerability and trust that He has our lives in His hands. In the middle isn’t always pretty. In the middle can be messy. It can be difficult. It can be beautiful or it can be devastating. It can be painful or joyous. The middle is where the meat of life is found. It is where everything is at stake. It is where we are formed and made for more in His glory. It is also where we find ourselves at the peak of our vulnerability.

At the peak of our vulnerability Jesus wants to meet us and get us through to the other side and when we get there, if we have trusted in Him, we find that it is better than we ever could have imagined.  Right now I am at the peak of my own vulnerability. We are in the middle of our adoption journey and I find each moment of the day comes with different emotions. I am trying to hear God’s voice but the waves of doubt, fear and uncertainty are roaring on either side of me and I am in the middle: vulnerable and scared. The need is so great for families that it has overwhelmed my empathetic soul.

Today, I looked around and found myself angry and frustrated. Pushed over the edge by the words of another so much that I wanted to give up but then I heard God say “Be Still”. As I sat I was taken to Exodus and the splitting of the waters. I was reminded that the minute they stepped into the middle they were vulnerable but their trust in God was greater. I have to trust. I stepped into the middle and now I must trust the process. I must trust that the waters will not crash down. I cannot give them a voice louder than God’s.  I have to stand, in the middle, and zone out the waves to allow God’s voice to be heard trusting that moving forward will bring something so beautiful that I never could have imagined how wonderful it will be.

If you are in the middle, trust God. He is leading you toward a future that will go beyond anything you can imagine!

Struggling with 50

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To be honest, I am struggling with turning 50. Im not there yet. I am 47 but the idea of 50 has been an issue since I turned 45. I started feeling out of sorts. Like I didn’t fit in. Im no longer young and I am also not old. I’m in the middle and the middle is not comfortable. It’s the most uncomfortable space I have been in because my youth is gone and I am facing old age. I wouldn’t call it a midlife crisis because I don’t feel like I am in a crisis, maybe a midlife awakening. I am realizing things about life that I never thought of before. I am seeing things much more differently than I did as a younger woman. I am feeling the depths of life changes and how they mold us into the human beings we are meant to be.

Right now I am standing at an edge looking into the unknown just as I have in the past yet this unknown feels more important. It feels like it really needs to mean something. It feels like my opportunity to “do it right” and really make an impact in this world. How big of an impact really is up to God, but now, in this moment of my life as I stand at the edge ready to dive in, I feel the urgency to reinvent myself into a new woman God can fully use for His glory.  This new season of life just doesn’t seem to be a “me” season, but rather a “HIM” season and that feels good.

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But, again if I am to be honest, I am mourning the loss of my youth. There were so many mistakes I made that I wish I could change, but I can’t go back. There are so many moments that I cherish: having my babies, watching them grow, time with loved ones that have long since passed to Heaven. I don’t want to let go because it has made me the woman I am now. Every heartache, every tear, every laugh…they are all a part of me and even though I went through a lot in my youth, I love my life now and I don’t want to watch it end as quickly as it has taken for me to get where I am.

I guess I am mostly afraid that the last amazing half of my life will go just ask as quickly as the first half.

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So what is a woman to do? I don’t want to be one of those mid-life crisis women. Instead, I want to enjoy a mid-life level up. I want to take a good look at the past 40 years and determine what aspects weren’t so great and then I want to transform them. I want to renew things like my health, my spirituality and my relationship with others. I want to take time to be still, truly still and enjoy my surroundings. I want to walk barefoot in the grass, take up running again and enjoy being the free spirited woman that I always have been. I want to read my Bible every day and soak in all that I can so that I can pass it on to others and live my life fully in His grace. I want a deeper relationship with Christ, much deeper.

The best part? I can. I can reinvent myself. I can let go of past strongholds and just live free from anxiety, fear or regret. I can be who I want to be and I can step into a whole new level of living in Christ. The reality is, I would have never figured this out in my 20s or even my 30s. I have figured it out now, in my 40s standing in this big empty space called “the middle”. I believe it has felt empty because I now have a new canvas on which to create the life I truly want to live so today is a celebration of the renewing of my life.

Cheers to the next level!!! I suspect it will be amazing!

Living in the Spirit | Forbearance

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The fruits of the Spirit have always gained my attention. I know that if I can have those fruits in my life that I will be living in the Spirit and therefore living my best life.  Easier said than done. The devil knows the exact moment that you ask for those fruits and does his best to derail any effort you are making to allow the Spirit to fill you with a certain fruit.  The past few days I have been focused on forbearance. This particular fruit has evaded me daily and I truly wanted to understand and allow the Spirit to fill me with it and the devil has put my teenager front and center to derail me each day.

As I write this I have just finished another confrontation with her. She walked into my room to tell me good morning and saw me studying my Bible. She excused herself and five minutes later I can hear her voice right outside my bedroom door that leads to the patio. I assume she is talking to her sister or someone on the phone because she is being terribly loud. This is the second day that she has been very loud as I am trying to study the Word of God making it difficult to concentrate. Yesterday I failed. I had no forbearance whatsoever. I tried, I promise I did, but I wasn’t living in the Spirit. I entered the room on my own strengths, or shall I say weakness, and initially politely asked her to stop. She kept going. I tried to be nice. She kept going. BAM. I yelled at her. Not so forbearing.

This morning, as I studied, I realized what I had done wrong yesterday. I had tried on my own without inviting the Spirit to overcome my weakness. This morning, as the frustration welled up inside the deepest depths of my soul at the teenager outside my door, I stopped before I walked through the door. I learned this morning that forbearance is patience. It is mercy. It is a gentle and tolerant way of handling aggravating situations, including rude teenagers.  Proverbs 25:15 had been brought to my attention ” By forbearance is a ruler persuaded and a soft tongue breaks the bone”. Before I opened that door I prayed:

Lord God in Heaven, cause my tongue to be soft. Cover my anger and frustration with your mercy and patience. Don’t let me speak, let your Holy Spirit speak for me.

Then I opened the door. There sat my teen with a book and my dog. There was no one outside with her. She deemed it necessary to take a book right outside my door and read it out loud to the dog. Not just out loud…but LOUD!  Never in my life have I been more thankful for the Holy Spirit than I was at that moment. My weakness would have reacted in a very negative way. I would have yelled, because if I am being honest, that was the most annoying and aggravating thing I have experienced this week so far. I would have ranted and gave an hour long lecture on the respect of space and my time with the Lord. I would have made it a point to make a point, but not the Spirit.

I stood in the doorway and asked gently, “what are you doing? who are you talking to?” She responded that she was reading the book out loud to the dog as if there was no problem with that at all. My response, or rather the Spirits, was ” You know I am in my room studying my Bible. You are being loud and causing me to not be able to concentrate or even pray. That is not acceptable. I am going to need you to come inside and read quietly, to yourself, on the couch.” That was it. It was simple. It was gentle. It was merciful and above all, it was spiritual. It was ALL the Spirit.

Bones do not break easily and neither do teens. They are in a struggle with their parents for control. Yelling and lecturing have not served our situation well but a soft tongue can handle even the most difficult teen.

As I sat to finish my study and pray I realized the lesson I had just received from the Lord:

In order to have the fruit of forbearance I must ask  and allow the Spirit to soften my speech and increase my patience always remembering that the outcome of this is that I will automatically call on Him before approaching any situation with my teen, or anything else for that matter, and mercy and patience will be the response. Today I was shown just how easy that can be if I stop, pray and then move forward!!