Running More Slowly With Jesus

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Have you ever found yourself in one of those categories, brokenhearted or crushed in spirit? Yep, me too. It’s an uncomfortable place to be. And yet, it’s been my home for the past six months or so.

Funny things are happening in my life. My daughter, my first born, graduated from high school a few weeks ago and will be leaving for college shortly. She’s growing up, or maybe grown up is more appropriate. My fifteen year old son is right behind her.

So do you think it was it part of God’s plan for menopause to coincide perfectly with our children’s independence and eventual departure? I’m not sure, but it certainly feels to me like someone took a divine sledge hammer to the younger woman who ran an eight minute mile and smashed her to bits. “Take that, spring chicken!” Bring on the saggy skin, hot flashes, and mood swings.

Maybe “crushed in spirit” sounds too melodramatic. I’ve been accused of it before, like when at eight years old I might have overdone a fake coughing spell to get out of school, earning me the nickname Sarah Heartburn. While I admit to occasional feeling amplification in the past, this is different. I feel legitimately tired, spent, and just plain old.

True, I’m only reaching the half century mark and not quite ready to be put out to pasture just yet. But I’ve begun to grasp the new reality that some things are just not going to happen for me. The 2012 Olympics are about three weeks away, and I realize I will never be an Olympic athlete. Well, that’s probably a bad example since I’ve never really accomplished much as an athlete, other than recently placing second in the “older ladies” age group at a triathlon. Oh, I still do my weekly speed work at the track, but it really only keeps me from slowing down too much. My [barely less than five hour] marathon time places me firmly in the category of people who participated in the event, rather than actually raced it.

I wanted to hang out and wallow there for awhile, bonding with my menopausal cohorts in air conditioned knitting studios and sobbing that my husband and children don’t appreciate me. But I am reminded: “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Phil 4:8. These feelings of uselessness, surely, do not belong on a believer’s heart. I cannot allow myself to dwell there.

So I must reorient and regroup, despite my heavy heart, and search for God’s next assignment for my life. I am certainly not the first woman to find herself in a house that is too quiet. God has been near to many brokenhearted menopausal women before, I’m sure. When every part of my flesh is fighting to stay mired in the bitterness of aging, I try to reach for a God who will save my spirit. I try. Some days I want to reach out, and some days I just want to cry for the young girl whose dreams for her life didn’t quite come true. The Supreme Court never came calling. I’ve got hundreds of typewritten pages, complete with dedication, and yet nothing that even given the most generous interpretation could be considered a manuscript. And I long ago lost touch with my best friend from high school.

On my own, my mind wants to park itself right here, shamefully curled up on the sofa seeking sympathy and chocolate covered almonds. So I struggle to get on my knees and ask God to draw near to me with His plans for the second half. Placing my trust in Him, as I have learned to do during the first half, those plans can’t miss. As long as I seek them as I seek God, with all my heart.