After Daddy left Mama and us kids, Mama had no choice but to get a license, somehow obtain a beat up old car and get a job. She had a focused purpose. That purpose was to provide for and raise those of her brood of seven kids that were still at home. She was focused on her purpose and she sacrificed her own needs and desires to make it happen. When she wasn’t at work, she was home with us kids. Because of her choices, we lived a peaceful, secure and fairly drama free life in our single parent family.
I think that once we were grown and out of the nest and Mama retired, she lost her sense of purpose and never found a new one.
She perked up when her children and grandchildren were around but lived a fairly joyless existence when we weren’t. “Don’t get old”, she told me once. She never knew how those words pierced my heart as, unknown to her, I was waiting to get the test results back on what was possibly cancer. I wanted to grow old, but unlike Mama, I wanted to find joy in the journey.
I wanted to grow old. But unlike Mama, I wanted to find joy in the journey.
I recently had a lovely visit with my oldest brother who spent the weekend with us. When he retired from his career as an international pilot, he decided to volunteer at a local hospital. Eventually, he took some medical courses and now works a couple of days a week preparing patients for surgery. He found a new purpose in his retirement years, caring for, encouraging, and assuaging patient’s fears as they face their upcoming operations.
A dear friend from church was a favorite teacher in the nursery at church. She was heartbroken to have to quit serving in the nursery due to physical complications from multiple sclerosis. She also could no longer work in her large yard and garden, another activity that she loved. As her limitations got more severe, she got more discouraged. Eventually, she had to sell her little cottage with the big yard and move into an apartment in a senior living center. She wasn’t sure how she was going to like her new living situation, as most of those living in the center were older than her. However, it was there that she found renewed purpose. In her conversations with her neighbors, she was shocked at how many of them knew very little about God, Jesus, or the Bible. Yet, they seemed eager to know more. She now comes to church glowing with joy and is eager to tell me what God is doing in and through her as she shares Jesus with her neighbors.
As our life circumstances change and we grow older, it’s not uncommon to feel a sense of loss of direction and purpose.
Our children grow up and leave home and we may feel that we are no longer needed. We come to the end of our career and face the retirement years. The loss of our daily routine and the sense of purpose we found in our career achievements is gone. I’ve come to believe that without a purpose, we lose our joy and zest for life. It’s important at this stage of life to do a re-evaluation and ask God to show us someone or something outside of ourselves that He wants us to invest in. Isolation and self-absorption are not healthy at any age.
As I’m approaching a “significant” birthday, I’ve been doing my own re-evaluation about my purpose. With God’s help, I want to love my husband well. I want to be a support and encouragement to my adult children. I want to be a blessing in the lives of my grandchildren. I want to continue my ministry of Bible teaching and mentoring others. I want to be an encourager face to face and through my written words. I want to finish my life’s journey knowing that I lived with purpose to the end. That should be the desire we all have, to finish our race well, to live purposefully, joyfully and fully all the days of our life.
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