There is a certain advantage to aging that has compelled me to live life in its fullness and to the fullest. If you had asked me 25 years ago if I was doing that I would have probably said, “Yes.” I was busy then and I am busy now…I was in God’s word then and I am in it now…I was in ministry then and I am in ministry now…but some things have shifted for me. What felt full then doesn’t quite fill me up now…actually I get exhausted just thinking about it. So much of my fullness was being met by scrambling around trying to prove to others and myself that I can do “it” and that I am “OK.” There is a bit of a harsh reality here as I recognize how much of that time was spent trying to “prevent” or “waiting for” the other shoe to drop.
Now I have many valid reasons for that to be true as one who spent a lifetime keeping secrets. My home of origin had secrets, “really” after all: Was that a glass of wine hidden in the kitchen cupboard? Did my brother flunk out of college? How did the car’s bumper get dented? Did he try to violate me in the bathroom? Who snuck out last night? Who came in drunk? Who vomited in the bathroom? Who is getting fat? In my house there were no answers to those questions and likewise I was not seeking answers…yet it all set me on edge. My world became small and manageable and so did I. My goal was to anticipate the “shoe” before it dropped and if I was vigilant enough, I could prevent it from falling all-together. I determined NOT to get “caught” off guard under any circumstances.
I am smiling as I remember the futility of living this way. The fullness I am feeling today comes with a freedom of knowing my heart and the goodness that lies within. It comes with receiving the boundless grace of drawing closer to God. And, I clearly remember breaking the silence of my own secrets. One would think this is all behind me but occasionally situations come into my life where I feel that I am being set-up to get “caught.” How quickly the old familiar voice whispers, “Yep, it is your fault. You are bad. You did not do it right.” Trust me, when this happens, my life shrinks. Fullness escapes me.
Recently, a dear friend of mine heard me say over the phone, “I feel a trap is being set for me and I will get caught.” She came over later that day and as we sat down she said, “Mary Jane, I want to address something you said to me this morning.” Interestingly enough I thought, “OK now the ‘shoe’ is going to drop.” What she said next startled me. “You used the word ‘caught’ in our conversation. I want you to know that when you say that it feels like you believe you are bad and have done something wrong. I want you to know that you are NOT bad. This is not your fault. You are not guilty.” Whoa, the “shoe” stopped in midair. There was such grace, freedom and truth extended to me that all I could do was say “Yes.” It is moments like this that the wonder of living life in its fullness returns to me and I rejoice.
Life isn’t so hard for me anymore. I spend less time waiting for the “shoe” knowing that with His guidance I will deal with it when it drops. Actually I spent a fair amount of time buying shoes! This comes with knowing my time here is getting shorter and I am determined to live life full. Secrets and unanswered questions don’t burden my heart anymore. My hope is that you will join me in the fullness of life…that you will capture the goodness of Christ in you…that you will hold your truth and be free…that you, too, have a friend or be the friend who recognizes the “shoe.”
Mary Jane Hamilton has grown to love her sense of style and her peaceful lake living. Mother of 2 and grandmother of 6, she has a wonderful capacity to love and is still active as The Tooth Fairy. She is extremely fond of her dachshunds, who rarely venture from her lap, and enjoys biking with her husband of 44 years. She is rekindling her writing skills and finding it life giving.