Your Own Life
Fresh Ink 2011)
The last twenty or thirty years of our
lives are lived in a completely different arena. Retired from busy careers, we
are able to focus on what we enjoy most. We have time to become involved in charitable
causes and volunteer in activities that make us aware of those less fortunate than ourselves.
We are free to spend more time with
family members. Even if we are not involved in their daily lives, we are their
emotional touchstone. They may or may not seek our advice about life decisions,
but they do trust that they will always receive our unconditional love.
Most of the women I know have a problem
compartmentalizing. (I have trouble even spelling the word.) As daughters, mothers, grandmothers, wives, sisters and friends, we are good, however, at empathizing.
Our ability to do so often presents
an emotional dilemma, because we tend to carry with us the problems and emotions of someone long after the person feels better
and has moved on. Empathy can morph into worry, worry into stress and stress
into unhappiness and even ill health.
Time seems to be passing by unusually fast
these days. Each day is beginning to look more like a gift. Dwelling on the problems of friends and family is usually not conducive to enjoying the day. If I have talked to them, prayed for them and perhaps even written in my journal about them, it’s
time to return to my own life.
It is possible to give love and support
and still enjoy your own life. How? It
takes a leap of faith. Because that is the answer to our dilemma—faith—and
living in the moment. We need to trust that God will help people get
through their ordeals as they learn and grow.
In some part of my brain, I used to believe
that thinking about others in some way protected them. The truth is I don’t have that kind of power. My prayers
have power but my worrying helps no one.
In my article, “Worried, Not Me,”
I use two of my friends as examples of women who choose not to worry, even though they have large families and all the accompanying
challenges. Trust and prayer are their primary choices, but they also have the
ability to focus on and enjoy the moment. After they answer the call to be loving
and supportive, they pray for loved ones, then surrender them into God’s hands.
When I do the same, I am able to return
to enjoying the blessings in my own life.