My husband, Scott, and I call our current stage of life Phase 3. It’s part of a totally unscientific formula:
– Phase 1- childhood to young adulthood
– Phase 2 – adulthood, which includes raising our family
– Phase 3 – the time in between launching your kids and retirement.
You could say it’s our version of the term empty nester, but instead of having ‘less’ in our lives, we have experienced so much ‘more’!
Phase 3 has been filled with more of God, than any other time in my life. Wait – stop – rephrase that; Phase 3 has been filled with me trusting God more in my life. By his Spirit, an arduously forged obedience was birthed from a fragile and immature trust. That’s a mouthful, I know, but just when I thought I was heading into a more sedate pace in my life, I discovered that God had other plans…, a “trust and obey” plan!
A few years ago I heard that Mother Theresa had once told a gentleman, “Don’t pray for clarity, pray for trust.” Of course, don’t you know that when I heard this I was impatiently waiting for clarity! During this wait, God wreaked havoc with my self-sufficiency and undressed the illusions of my control. Active trust was born when I dared to take a step into the unknown, into the unseen, into a promise that my spirit felt, but my common sense trounced upon. There’s nothing wrong with clarity, per se, except when you’re paralyzed by its absence. I learned that waiting on clarity could cost you more than what it would take to trust. An aspect of trust is the firm belief in the reliability or strength of someone or something. Who we trust makes all the difference! Trusting God can be scary, but it’s always the clear choice. Allow me to share the story of how God rescued me from my common sense.
Phase 3 began with our younger son heading into college, but it was also shaken up by some other factors. Scott was prematurely launched into retirement; he said it was like standing at the edge of a pool and getting yourself psyched to jump in, but then someone comes along and pushes you in! For me, this phase was punctuated by the absence of my speaking ministry. I chose to gear up my hours at work which left less and less opportunities to do any ministry, much less the MOPS circuit. The first year I just really missed it, but by the second year that ‘missing’ feeling turned into a conviction. God was making it clear that where I was, was not where he wanted me to be. My heart knew it, but my wallet was calling the shots.
During the years approaching Phase 3 we had talked as a family about one day moving someplace that didn’t have winter most of the year! My oldest son initiated it when he was in college, saying he had plans to move someday. I said, “Great, let’s all pray about where that will be because I’m outta here too!” This relocation journey took more than 5 years. There were scouting trips to many cities in Arizona, Asheville (NC), Colorado Springs (CO), Austin (TX) and then Nashville (TN). In every place I prayed, “Lord, show up if you want us here!”, and low and behold, The Lord showed up in Nashville.
Right after our first trip to Nashville, Scott was deployed by FEMA to New York for Hurricane Sandy. He spent the next 5 months there and, with the exception of me visiting him the weekend ‘the world was going to end’ (12/22/12), we communicated over the phone. I cringe when I say it, but we made major life decisions then that changed the trajectory of our lives. The truth is that the distance and lack of distractions created more focused time together. Meanwhile, God worked parallel to our emotional work to bring financial circumstances to a point that would allow us to make the move.
The winter of 2013 was NOT a high note in my life. I happen to be burdened with the winter blues and at that time I was really strapped by stress that brought about an assortment of physical ailments such as stomach, digestive and chronic memory issues (caused by my inability to retain essential vitamins.) I can recall one night sitting on my couch, wrapped in my plush, lavender robe, with the TV on and my fingers busily crocheting something. My younger son, a man of few words, came up to me and with a strange look on his face (I later figured out was concern) and asked if I was alright because all I was doing was coming home and crocheting on the couch. Okay people, for your teenage son to notice that you’re not right means that you’re really not right!
Here’s the scary thing, life looked normal; I was working and going to church, but I barely had energy to get through each day. I was unhappy and worst yet, I was not obedient. I knew I wasn’t living the life I was supposed to and it was taking its toll. The financial security I clung to was eating me alive. God was calling me to walk off that ledge and to trust him for my provisions, but I consumed his time by negotiating for a limb, a branch, or a vine to grab onto before taking that step. No branch ever appeared and because I couldn’t see past my own solution, I wasn’t able to see the blessings God had for me. Waiting for the comfort of clarity was costing me more than my health, it was stunting my spiritual growth by creating a one-sided relationship with God.
There are tons of “2013 Winter Karyn’s”! Our kind struggle with the discord of emotional and spiritual harmony. I didn’t want to walk off that ledge of financial security – my fear tethered me to my wallet as I withered away spiritually. My soul whimpered but my worry won out. I knew God was calling me to something else but because I couldn’t see how it could happen, I remained stuck.
For the Humphries, Phase 3 has really been a journey of faith. I believe it’s easier to have faith than to walk in faith. Our entire family was called to step off our own personal ledges and free fall in faith. We didn’t do this carelessly or haphazardly, we prayed and created a stable, barebones financial plan that would undergird us. In the fall of 2013 we left my oldest son and daughter-in-love behind in Chicago, which was extremely tough, but we had an assurance that The Lord would work in his timing to bring them down. My younger son came with, but not without perching on the edge of his own ledge saying, “I don’t think I’m supposed to go!” In the end the 3 of us headed south, cautiously confident because of the proof God had given us in the circumstances that preceded our relocation.
Our environment has not only changed, but our hearts have been renewed (as well as my strength). We have experienced so much of God’s favor; Scott got his real estate license, my younger son formed a plan for his future and returned to Chicago to enroll in Columbia College, I went on to pursue a certification as a Christian Life Coach and my older son and his family just relocated here! I have gained a renewed sense of God’s purpose for me in Nashville. I no longer feel his conviction, I feel his blessing as I engage with others who want to get ‘un-stuck’ and watch God work powerfully in their lives too.
We are created to glorify God and it’s the way in which we do so that brings rich meaning to our lives. If he calls you to something, he will work out the details. All you have to do is walk in faith off the ledge of fear, self-sufficiency, or whatever holds you back from being who God means for you to be. I am really trying not to speak of trust as something you just casually do – it’s much harder than that – at least it was for me. I remember during this time I would make myself say out loud, “God, I trust you.” This was my sacrifice of praise as I grappled with my inability to see things and to control my world. Little did I know that seeing God was the only thing I needed to see. That’s what makes the whole trust thing possible!
Whatever phase you are in, if you are living a life without emotional and spiritual harmony I want to encourage you to make a change. Begin by getting with God more. Listen. Dial down your life enough to hear him. You don’t have to take this journey alone. If you are certain God is calling you to make a change, don’t let the comfort of clarity hold you back. Hand your fears over to God and trust. I’ve seen this firsthand, and not only with myself. Our God is faithful to complete the good work he has started in all of us. Open yourself to what he has in store for you, even if you can’t see how it could happen. He knows, and he will be faithful. If you have stepped off that ledge in faith, please share how God has blessed you, because he always does!
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies what joy for those who trust in you.
As a Christian Life Coach I walk with others on similar paths. If you’d like some company on your journey with Jesus and want to move from where you are to where he wants you to be, then let’s chat.