Happy and Sad at the Same Time
In one of my journals, I asked the question, “How can I be both happy and sad at the same time?”
That’s how I’d felt for many years. This happy, sad dance was felt at first while walking through midlife as a stay-at-home mother. It was a role I chose and loved, but at the same time, I felt a constant longing for personal significance.
Later, after years of praying for a new meaningful calling, I was introduced to life coaching as a career. I was full of joy at this discovery. But as I learned how hard it was to find enough clients to stay busy, I was confused again. More recently, as my children have prepared to leave the nest, I’ve felt a series of highs and lows.
Living Among Thorns
As a gardener I’ve asked why weeds have to crowd the beauty of the garden. I been perturbed when just after getting the garden cleared of weeds new weeds appear. The work of caring for a flower bed is endless.
A parallel dilemma in life is trying to live a happy, godly life while surrounded by evil. Or, personally, just we find focus, happiness, and satisfaction, new problems appear. We solve one health crisis, and another appears. We feel happy and content about our life work, and a few days later we plunge into sadness and doubt.
That’s how life generally goes for some of us. Things are good and then a disappointment or wave of boredom hits.
Weeds of Life
The Message version of the Bible offers us clarification on this business of living with duality. It tells the parable of the sower, “God’s kingdom is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. That night, while his hired men were asleep, his enemy sowed thistles all through the wheat and slipped away before dawn. When the first green shoots appeared and the grain began to form, the thistles showed up, too. (Matthew 13:24-43)”
The next day, the man’s servants asked if they should pull up the weeds that were growing alongside the wheat. But he answered, no, explaining that while pulling up the weeds some of the good plants might get uprooted. He advised them to let both grow together until the harvest when his angels would separate them, gather the wheat, and burn the weeds.
Live Well Among the Weeds
It’s clear to me, since the fall of Adam and Eve, we are no longer privileged to live in what was the perfect setting—the garden of Eden. Instead, we are destined to walk alongside the weeds of life. Jesus said in this world we will have trouble (weeds), but we can find peace, hope, and joy because he has overcome the world (John 16:33).
Jesus describes the weeds of life as worries, the lure of wealth, the desires for other things, the attractions of this world, and the search for success (Matthew 13:22). I’d like to add that for midlife women, the weeds we face include the ever-sprouting challenges of grief over the empty nest and wondering what's left for us to do that is as meaningful as mothering. I don't know about you, but I tire of trying to stay out of a rut as I navigate my midlife journey.
So what does a midlife woman do when she finds herself knee-deep amongst life’s weeds? What does she do when everything in her is screaming for change, significance, peace, happiness, identity, and greater satisfaction?
Stay on Task
Until God reveals a new plan to you, I’d suggest you keep doing what you’re doing. I deduct from the parable that we should not become tempted to throw out the bad--what’s not working--but to learn to live with both the good and the bad.
Resist Drastic Weed Pulling
Are you wondering what throwing out what’s not working might look like? How about kicking grown children out of the house, tossing aside a dead marriage, quitting a home business, or moving away in hopes of finding new happiness elsewhere?
If God leads you to make changes in these areas, that’s one thing, but tossing them out in an effort to fix your life is dangerous.
Instead, nurture the good plants--what's working. And when weeds seem to take over, wait for the rain to finish falling and the sun to appear. With a brighter perspective, deal with life’s weeds one by one.