Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Open Door

Discontent. Restlessness. Doubt. Despair. Longing. Who am I? How did I get here? Where am I going?

As I was asking myself these questions the other day – as a middle aged woman – when suddenly I realized that these are also the questions of the young. They are the musings of adolescents as they try to define and refine who they are as creatures in their own right, independent of parents and those who would try to form them.

Funny how life cycles around like that, huh? If you're 45 and asking these questions, you probably don't think so.

We excuse teenagers who are going through it. We smile and nod, all along secretly knowing that "this too, shall pass." We cut them some slack and look the other way as they get cranky and angry and wrestle with themselves.

In youth these questions and reactionary responses are seen as growing pains. But when we reach our middle years of life and feel these things again we've been conditioned to see them as signs of decay.

I'm discovering how difficult the years between forty and fifty can be. Many people never climb above the plateau into a new understanding of life and their place in it. (Then again, I know some folks who never got out of their teenaged years either.) And I'm learning that these feelings of restlessness and doubt can easily cause withdrawal and departure from our purpose and relationships.

But, surely, these are growing pains too.

Growing pains are scary. Who isn't afraid of pure space – that breathlessness that comes as you stand before a door that is ready to open into the unknown? Our natural inclination is to do anything other than stand still and learn from the signs. We try to cure the pains. We attempt to silence the anxiety. We seek to exorcise the discomforts as if they were demons aiming to crack our spirits wide open, to spill out into the darkness.

But I must force myself to believe that the other side of this door holds a new stage of living where we have shed our ambitions and have the knowledge to fulfill the neglected sides of ourselves. What if the other side of the door might finally free us for spiritual and creative growth?

We have so little faith in the natural ebb and flow of life. We seek permanence. We want duration, stability and perpetuity.

Perhaps that is not God's way for us.

The stirrings that are inside me are the same rousings that came thirty years ago. I simply have to trust that security in life does not lie in looking to the past with regret. It doesn't come from looking into the future with uncertainty, but it comes from feeling the pains of growth right now and trusting in the open door ahead.

{this writing was inspired by a passage I read from Anne Morrow Lindbergh's The Gift of the Sea}

1 comment:

Frank Wilson said...

Great prose and thought provoking, but where did you find this door?