This week it will be three weeks since I “retired”.
I really don’t like that word, it sounds like I’m tired… and although that is true, I’m seeing this season of my life as changing gears, transitioning.
Retiring from ministry or any life’s calling is foreign to me. I’ve long believed (and have been told) that we follow our calling for life, there is always service to be done, a purpose to life. But I have stepped back from the intensity of my position as a hospital chaplain and am taking a rest.
Or at least that is my intent! I think of other major transitions in my life; the day I became a widow at age 37, and my life as I knew it was finished. It took time to grieve, to mourn and establish a new normal. Remarriage was another big transition. When my hubby and I found ourselves without work in our early fifties, we faced another major shift, a challenge to learn new skills; he started a painting business, and I found myself led to a ministry role.
These transitions didn’t come without feelings of loss, grief, learning, adjustments, and at times even depression. So I’m not surprised to find myself on this new journey with all its emotions.
Major transitions can be very unsettling. I’m finding this to be true, all over again. Life feels sideways, even upside down. The familiar has changed. Who am I in this place? I remember as a new widow, am I still married… or not? It can feel discombobulated, yes, that is how I feel. I like that word!
I’ve watched many reach this step of “retirement “, some with absolute joy and anticipation, where others take time to find their way. There is a loss of identity, and even purpose. But there is also relief.
I want to be intentional about this journey. I will read and learn more. I want to move and be active. I want to nourish my connections with family and friends. If there have been painful conclusions, there must be time for process, for counselling, for forgiveness.
I want to grow in my spiritual life, to go deeper. I want to find time for creativity. But yes, there is also time for naps. It doesn’t have to be all done today.
Who knows what the next steps will be. I’ve been encouraged to take a sabbatical, a step back, a time for deep rest and freedom from responsibilities.
And then, I will trust God to guide the way. I think of Moses leading the people of Israel at age 80. There are many authors who started their writing careers in their seventies. I know many who continue to serve, and teach, to counsel, to provide spiritual direction and to be active in ministry, no matter their age. There is a world of possibilities.
So instead of saying I’m retiring, I’m relearning, and I’m resisting the notion that I’m done. There are new beginnings, as I transition into a new phase of life.
This past year my word was joy. I tried to start each day with the words “This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it”. I want to continue that. My word for 2023 is Hope. I am thankful we can live each day with hope, whatever tomorrow will bring.
“see, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?” -Isaiah 43:19