Sometimes it is hard to talk to people who are not in the same season of life.
I had two conversations that were awkward this week. Both with people in different life-seasons to me.
One had high school children, just two. They were busy doing night-time-and-going-away-type-activities, the success or failure of which no longer hinged on avoiding tantrums.
The other had just had a divorce. No children. Lots of time alone.
After each conversation I was left thinking was what I said helpful? I just asked how they were going. Heard their stories. I had no advice for either. Just empathy but in both cases neither one asked anything about me beyond ‘Are you well?’ The conversation just stopped. No questions about my day, my five kids or my emotional or spiritual state or my ‘work’ (since I don’t go to work, it’s a bit open ended I guess).
I often notice this. I hear it in conversations around me. People don’t always know what to say to each other. Sometimes we’re self absorbed, other times we just don’t know.
I see it when I try to talk to my kids, about something that is bleedingly obvious to me, but they won’t understand until they run their own household one day. I notice it when my husband walks in the front door from work and tries to adjust to the home environment. I notice it when I want to spend the night catching up on jobs I couldn’t do during the day and my husband wants me to sit down and relax with him because ‘work’ is finished. It is there in the bedroom when my husband takes off his shirt and still has the same body he’s had for 40 years and then I take off mine and it looks like an alien has taken over.
Frankly we are never exactly in the same stage as anyone else. Even if we’re walking side by side.
I am constantly season-hopping. I get into one season, make a few friends and suddenly, like a puppet I’m airlifted out of there and transported into a parallel season BUT I can still see my old friends walking, seemingly beside me, but in the old season, quietly letting the earth turn.
I do love talking to people who are not in my season. It’s like watching tv. A moment of vicarious living. I am also keen to love them from where I am at but that is where the problem arises. When we are not in the same season sometimes there is a communication breakdown.
Or there is just plain old loneliness.
Since I’ve been married I’ve been; in the nervous breakdown season, the very, very sick husband season, the part time working before kids so that you can look after your not-so-sick-but-not-so-well-either-husband season, the part time and pregnant season, the six month old baby and pregnant again season, the 3 kids in 3 years and one month season, the 4 kids season and the 5 kids season. And then some….
But here is what I’ve learned.
God always gets me. God always understands the season and it’s purpose. Not only that, he understands me in the season, with all the people I am directly dealing with, and the resources I have or do not have.
I can look out the window and contrast the neighbours’ different-season-ness-and-resource-abundance. I can pity the-woman-I-spoke-to-at-the-such-and-such-who-is-in-an-even-worse-season-with-absolutely-no-resources. I can even complain to my long suffering husband about the impossibility of my situation but not one ounce of the contrasting, pitying or complaining is helping me or moving me forward in the season.
The one person who can and will move me forward is God. He knows without the lengthy analysis, he knows without the protests and the pity. He knows more than I do and he can help all of us; me, the neighbours (and all of their helpers), the-woman-I-met-at-the-such-and-such and my husband.
I have to go to God. He knows what to do with all of it. The stress, the not knowing, the crazy, the sad, the happy, the hopeful, the hopeless, the possible, the impossible, the manic and the indescribably mundane.
I don’t even have to tell Him. I just have to go to Him.
He is the constant in all the changing stages.
He is faithful when all the friends change and the family drifts.
He is loving when the kids or the husband are not.
He is true when everything else is just someone’s opinion.
He is powerful when I am weak.
He is gracious when I am a complete disaster.
He is patient when I have no idea what I am doing.
He is merciful when I get it so, so wrong.
He is simply wonderful in everything.
And he is on my side. For me, not against me. HE will not forsake me.
(Kari Jobe’s worship song You Are For Me says all of these things in a beautiful way and I used to sing it many times a day putting my kids to bed. It’s a much longer bedtime lullaby than Jesus Loves me but I sang it on purpose. Thank you Kari for bringing us back to Jesus all those times.)
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