I’m currently stringing together a few recent happenings in my life, and the reality has finally hit me: I am basically 15 years old again. Life has pulled on some of the loose threads in my soul, and like an old sweater that has lost its shape and form, I have a pile of yarn at my feet. Now I have to figure out how to make this mess into something I can actually use to keep warm.
Let’s start at the beginning of this adventure with a small thing.
A few months ago, I learned about the term in psychology called “middlescence”, which is a combination of the words “middle” and “adolecence”, and is defined as “the middle-age period of life, especially when considered a difficult time of self-doubt and readjustment.” I feel super lucky to be smack in the middle of this lovely season of life, in which I completely over-think the last three decades of my life and whether or not I’m on a good path for the next thirty years ahead of me. Especially since my own kids are just now hitting their strides as teenagers.
Anyone else out there in the thick of middlescence? How are you handling this lovely season of life that NO ONE EVER TOLD US ABOUT??? Where are the ABC after-school specials to help me figure this out? Is there a version of The Wonder Years that deals with middle age? Because I need to know #WWWD. What Would Winnie Do?
I mean, I love surprises and all, but this is ridiculous. I had no clue I was not actually finished with the life-changing realities of a total self-doubt and readjustment. Can’t I just coast on into my golden years? Dear Jesus, help us all.
In our house, Mom in Middlescence+Teens in Adolescence=The Following Meme:
But really, this season is super delightful. My kids eat three helpings of dinner at 7:00pm and then scarf down three bowls of cereal at 9:00pm every night, after which they want to dissect the meaning of life with me through an interpretive form of conversation that at first involves only low growls and grunts followed by shocking insight and sweet vulnerability. After that they go to bed and I go online to buy another pair of black leggings. We each cope in our own way.
Then a couple of weeks ago, I went to the dermatologist for my regular skin cancer screening (Thank you, pasty white skin, with your total lack of melanin. You are such a joy.), and he was like, “Looks like you have some breakouts. I’ll prescribe something for that.” And this is how I, at age 42, got my very first prescription for acne. How cute am I? Bonus: I can share my super-powered cream with my teenagers. These mom/son moments are totes adorbs.
Right around the time the doctor humbled me with his Rx pad, my book dreams were dashed yet again by a rejection from a publisher, and I had no clue what to do next. Not even new leggings seemed to solve this conundrum.
But then I had a SUPER GREAT IDEA. I should just toss the whole entire book I’ve already almost finished and start over with a new book. It’s genius, really. If at first you don’t succeed/this test is going to become my testimony/failure is just the first step to success/whatevs, man. Choose your favorite inspirational quip and run with it for me. I’ll be over here leaning hard into the way God loves to give us new mercies.
I love discerning the will of God by default, don’t you? It’s got me here, at the beginning again, trying new things like acne cream and writing another book proposal. But I really do love my new book idea. Here’s hoping the publishers feel the same way I do about it, or I’m going to be all: Gurl, BYE.
Except Bye Felicia doesn’t really work when you’re trying to follow Jesus. There are no Felicias in the Kingdom of God, just a mishmash group of flawed people trying to make something out of the love they’ve been given. This life together requires more love than we can easily find and more discipline than we know how to muster.
We want so much to be comfortable and happy. We want success and blessing to be inseparable. The real kink in that plan is, of course, the whole entire gospel. Jesus called the last first, the least the greatest, and then he went and made death the path to life. Good luck roaring like a lion in God’s Kingdom if you aren’t also lying down like a lamb.
At the core of each season on our spiritual paths, God’s looking for the same thing in all of us: faithfulness to Him. Sometimes success looks like letting go and starting over. It looks like trying new, hard things, and falling on our faces in humiliations galore. There will be days that success looks more like Christ crucified, and days it looks more like the glorious resurrection. We must learn to embrace both in Christ.
Today, for me, success looks like curling up on the sofa with with my teenagers and trusting that the Holy Spirit is helping all of us find ourselves in new ways, whether we’re full of doubt or bursting with confidence.
Here’s to starting over, to new books, to dead manuscripts in my computer, to old ladies and young teens and everyone in between. Here’s to life and to this spiritual sweater I’m trying to knit by God’s mercy and grace.
I hope it ends up cozy and at least moderately fashionable. But if it doesn’t, I could always start over again someday….