I’ve thought a lot about the progression of life. The Lord created us beautifully with such incredible stages and phases from infancy to old age and everything in between. I am in the in-between. I have young kids – but not babies. I have older kids, but not yet in high school. I am in a phase of overall normal health and strength. I am strong enough to care for my home, and can reliably walk, carry things, pick up children – even as I watch my kids still learning about their bodies and how to play games and care for themselves, and also watch my older relatives and friends work on slowing down. I am in an in-between phase.
And often I don’t feel well equipped to navigate the daily challenges of the in-between with grace. I look at kids and long for my own early childhood when I had few responsibilities and all the time in the world to lie in bed and read a book. I talk with people my parents’ age and I am amazed at the skill and the warmth and the practice that they bring as they face life’s ups and downs and I long for that knowledge and understanding.
I can get stuck feeling like this in-between is too hard. Everyday I pray quick prayers for patience and warmth and love throughout the day’s challenges. I often read small parts of reflections, or sermons, or Bible verses. I go to church most weeks and get through each talk with at least a part of my brain listening as I support 4 wriggly kids. But as I navigate this busy and chaotic time I so rarely have the space to focus deeply on turning to the Lord. I almost never get to read a whole Bible chapter or listen to a full sermon. And this can feel unfair to me – as though I NEED that time in order to follow the Lord. How does this phase fit in the system – what is this crazy in-between time of life? I can get trapped in feeling like the demands of having young kids but also not the full knowledge that another decade will bring me is somehow my fault.
But somewhere over the Christmas holidays I was reflecting on the fact that maybe there’s no fault, its just that THIS is also one of the stages.
Last Sunday in church the talk was about Jacob traveling – stopping along the way to sleep and having a dream of the angels going up and down many steps between earth and heaven. Then it says:
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
…Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. (Genesis 28:16-21)
I got teary in church as the reminder came through loud and clear – Surely the Lord is in this place. In every stage, on every step, as I’m moving from one place (either physically or emotionally!) to another, the Lord is there. Even when I don’t know it.
It’s helped me feel more peaceful and accepting of where we are right now, confident that the Lord is with me, keeping me in the way that I am going, and caring for me through all life’s phases.