This week I stepped forward onto another rock across that stream that I’ve referred to in my recent posts as “The Gap.” After getting a contract on our house, we knew there would be negotiations after the inspection. The Buyer’s revised offer came on Tuesday evening right when I was getting ready for bed. It was hard to sleep that night because it seemed their requests were excessive. We would talk with our Realtor the next day–but that time of waiting picked at my vulnerability–that doubting voice that comes up and says things aren’t going to work out.
On Wednesday afternoon, we met by Zoom with our Realtor, talked about the options, and sent the Buyer our counter offer. There would be a second night of waiting and troubled sleep, of praying that this would be over soon, and I could move on.
Finally, on Thursday morning, we heard that the Buyer accepted our counter and we all signed the agreement; I was so relieved, so thankful.
But like everything else during the past days, my relief only lasted for a short while. During this phase of uncertainty while navigating between the old life and the new, my brain seems to search for the next thing to worry about. While I know that God has worked for good over my lifetime, and I believe that God is over all and in all, I don’t always feel that.
On Friday afternoon, I needed to get out of the house and act as if I was on the eve of a real weekend. With so many of my activities taken away with the pandemic, it’s sometimes a struggle for the weekend to feel different from the week. I lapsed into my own ‘solo progressive dinner.’ Years ago, our church would have progressive dinners where groups would visit a different house for each course, generally salads, main course, and dessert.
For my progressive dinner first course, I wanted a hot dog. You may say, “Really?” but about every two months, I have a hankering for a hot dog. At the Hardee’s Drive Thru, I ordered a Jumbo Chili Dog with mustard and ketchup; too bad they didn’t have slaw!
I pulled into a parking space next to a tree where I could watch the Friday traffic headed home. I used to do this after a week in my middle school, relishing the thought of the weekend before me. Like those days, after I finished that satisfying and salty hot dog, I went shopping– now with a mask and social distancing.
Once I realized that some shoppers were taking off their masks after passing the store clerk who greeted them (presumably checking that customers’ were wearing their masks which are required in our city), I knew I had to leave. My family is one week away from the arrival of our second grandson and we’re all being careful. I got only what I needed and quickly left the store. It was time for the next course of my progressive dinner.
I’d found Bruster’s Real Ice Cream one day when I was exploring the shopping center across from my new apartment complex. There is nothing that calls my name more when I’m under stress than ice cream– or when I’m not!! I ordered the small waffle cone of Oreo–and there was nothing small about that portion.
How satisfying those chunks of dark chocolate cookie buried inside the creamy cold vanilla ice cream. I walked through my new neighborhood, savoring the serotonin sweetness and thanking God for lifting me to that next rock. My apartment is empty now and I couldn’t look inside since the blinds were closed. I walked through the breezeway, down the sidewalk toward the mail kiosk, and through the pines and hardwoods wondering what my life will be like when I live there.
The ice cream ran like a rivulet down the side of the cone. I finished the tasty treat when I was walking up to the entrance to the pool. It had rained and there were no residents in the water or sitting in the lounge chairs.
Looking through the metal gate, it occurred to me:
“You’re starting all over at sixty-five years old.”
The heaviness of that thought sank down into my body and lodged in my heart. The comfort of the ice cream was replaced by suddenly feeling very alone. I stood there and let myself experience that unwanted feeling, recognizing it from so many other similar moments. After a while, a challenging thought rose to the surface:
“That’s not true. You have family, friends, and a lot of supports you’ve developed over the years. You have meaningful work and writing. Besides, you’re not alone. Remember what you read, that the divorce rate is now tripling for people over sixty-five? Lots of other people are facing divorce at this phase of life, too.”
I was startled and comforted when I’d read that statistic in Mary Pipher’s Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age. Now I’m living that reality.
I felt tired from my outing and decided it was time for the last course of my progressive dinner. All that sweet ice cream needed a salty balance–since the hot dog from a couple of hours ago had worn off. This course would be Lay’s potato chips.
I crunched through the large individual bag, releasing some of the tension that I’d been holding. I remembered the song that brought me comfort, “Way Maker” sung by Darlene Zschech and William McDowell and replayed it. As everyone sings “Even when I don’t feel it you’re working,” William says “sometimes you won’t feel it, that’s alright.” I think to myself that God doesn’t expect perfection in me believing that He’s working on my behalf; just a little bit of faith is enough.
I listened to the end of the song and heard Darlene call out on behalf of those who are sick, saying, “with God all things are possible,” drawing on the Bible verse in Matthew 19:26. I think of my situation and the rocks in the stream that still have to be crossed.
I believe it’s possible for God to make a new life for me– even at sixty-five. There are no limitations on God– no matter our age, our station in life, our situation. God is our Way Maker; He is My Way Maker.
The progressive dinner is finished, and I’m full; I’ll deal with the scales in the morning!
Meanwhile, I realize, with gratefulness, that I’ve made my way through another week and onto another rock. It’s time to wait here and gather my strength, leaning on God until it’s time to take the next step.
How About You?
What stream are you navigating through at this time in your life?
What feels impossible? Can you reconsider and ask God to show you the possibilities?