"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
February 19, 2014
Sometimes I just feel lost! Not lost in my salvation and relationship with Jesus, but lost as to where my place is in life. I don't fit in with the younger generation. I feel like I fit more with the older generation, but am not at the same place in life as they are, so feel out of place with them, too. Most couples who are in the same age group as Jon and I have raised their children and are becoming empty nesters, because their kids are college age or married. There are several that I graduated high school with who are now grandparents. Jon and I got married later in life, so didn't have children; therefore, we really don't have a lot in common or fit in with most couples our age.
Music has always been a vital part of my life, but the styles have changed so much over the past few years that it somehow has left me feeling like the odd man out. Honestly, I think that most times (there are always exceptions) what style of music you grow up listening to and singing has a lot to do with your personal taste as you age. I grew up with Daddy and Mama playing the record player, listening to southern gospel quartets or family groups. I grew up in church singing mostly hymns, or old style songs that had the four-part harmony and on the chorus the soprano, alto, tenor and bass would each sing their own specific part or repeats. What "choruses" we did sing were short and repetitive, so were easy to memorize and remember. These are the songs that I still find myself singing while driving down the road or cleaning house or mowing the lawn.
It's not that the music today is necessarily bad, but it just doesn't speak to me like the music I grew up on does. Around the house, I find myself singing the songs I sang 30-40 years ago; and can still remember most of the words. On the other hand, I can't remember but a few words of the worship song we've been singing in church for the past six months. The popular worship music is something I don't mind listening to on a CD, but not something that really appeals to me overall. And worship music and soloist or groups all seem to be one and the same anymore. But it is what the majority enjoy and what speaks to them; therefore, I once again feel like I'm the odd man out.
I was recently thinking about the fact that the worship music that is so popular today will change as the kids who are now young grow up. There will come a time in a few years when their parents are going to revert back and remember the songs they are singing today, and feel somewhat lost in the music that will appeal to their children who have become adults. I remember Daddy feeling that way, and me thinking that he was just being stubborn and non-progressive. Now I understand! The changes in musical styles didn't appeal to him and didn't really speak to his heart like the old songs he had been singing all his life did. I feel that way now, and wish I had been more understanding of my dad.
The change in musical styles have even affected me playing the piano. Most of the worship music today was written by acoustic guitar players and I can't play piano with them. If there is a piano part, it is just sitting there and chording, which is not my style of playing. I am self-taught and play by ear, but that doesn't mean that I can play any style of music that I hear. I grew up playing hymns and southern gospel, so that is my particular style of playing piano. I don't have the vocal range most of the newer songs have, so I can't sing them well. That means I have a hard time leading worship, because I tend to revert back to some of the older songs that I can sing, while the younger congregants want to sing the newer songs they enjoy and really like. And on a lot of the worship songs that have solo parts on the verses, I'm never sure if I'm supposed to sing along or listen to the soloist sing.
Jon and I have had a hard time finding a home church that we really feel like we fit into. We've attended four different churches since we've been married. One of the churches, we were by far the youngest couple in the congregation. In another church, they had lots of activities and groups for those younger than us and for those older than us, but nothing for our particular age group. The only two groups available for our age group were either on parenting or how to get out of debt. We didn't have kids and didn't have debt.
There are even times when we're with family that we feel a tad out of place. Conversations tend to focus on talking about their kids or grandkids... grandkids... grandkids.... kids.... grandkids..... If the grandkids are around, that is the entire focus of the entire visit. And that is perfectly fine and how it should be with parents and grandparents! They should be proud of their kids and grandkids and want to talk about them and brag on them. But when you are the only two sitting there without any kids, and therefore, no grandkids, there are times when we feel like we have nothing to offer to the conversation and feel a little left out and out of place.
Jon and I also don't have any other couples that we socialize with or hang out with. As I said, most couples in their forties are involved with their kids or grandkids, which keeps them busy. We don't have the same interest or are at the same place in our lives as a lot of people our age. Our socialization basically is one another or our family. Truthfully, most of the time that suits us just fine because neither of us are social butterflies and don't like to party or be around large groups of people, and I don't like to play games.
Let me just say: I am not on a rant, nor am I having a pity party!! I think there are others who go through times when they feel like they are the odd man out and can relate somewhat to the point I am trying, in my bumbling way, to make.
So what do you do when you feel lost and like you really don't have a particular place in life? How do you handle feeling as if you're the odd man out? I've struggled with that and have questioned whether or not I'm really fulfilling my purpose. I'm a stay at home wife. I really am not active in our home church. I don't have kids or grandkids to put my focus on. I don't have the huge circle of aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends constantly surrounding me, as I did when I was single and lived in the hometown where I was raised; although I am very thankful for the family members that we have close by. Jon and I have more friends and people who want to hang out with us when we're in Missouri, than we do where we live in Oklahoma.
We all go through transitions when our lives change and circumstances are different. It sometimes takes time to adapt to those changes and see the positive in them. We can't constantly compare where we're at now, to where we were in the past, and expect the same results. Just because my life is different now doesn't mean that I have less impact or am less useful.
When I was single, my situation was completely different than it is now. During most of those years, I was involved in the church that I had grown up in where I knew everyone and everyone knew me. I played piano, sang specials, was church secretary, and taught Sunday School from time to time. What I did was more visual to more people, so more knew what all I did. But that didn't make what I did more important than what others did.
And it doesn't make it more important than what I do now. I'm a wife now, so have someone other than myself to focus on. I'm blessed to be a stay at home wife. That gives me more time to babysit great-nephews and great-nieces when needed; stay with sick kids in the family when their parents have to work; ride along with Janie when she has to go to the deaf school for Devin's activities or when she has a job out of town and doesn't want to go alone; write this weekly devotional; support family and friends when they need encouragement; take care of our home and yard and run errands so that Jon can relax and doesn't have to do those things in the evenings or on weekends; and whatever it is that I do!
My life has changed, and there are times that because I'm not doing the things that I've done in the past, I feel like I must not be accomplishing much, or must be a failure, or must not be as good of a christian as I once was, etc. But different doesn't necessarily mean that you're not doing what God has called you to do. There are people in my church who don't know my name or know anything about me. What I'm doing now is not visual to many people. But what I'm doing is still necessarily and important.
In Colossians 3: 22-25, Paul is writing specifically to those who were slaves (or bondservants) regarding their need to be obedient to their masters. I really like verses 23 and 24 and have applied them to myself many times:
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart (do it heartily), as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
Generally, it is people who make us feel guilty, as if we aren't doing enough and should be doing more; basically it's because we're not doing what they "think" we should be doing. But people should not be our conscience. God should be the sole voice of our conscience, and it is Him that we should be working to please.
There was a pastor's wife who had always been really active in working alongside her husband in ministry and been very up front in her duties. When she had kids, she felt like she couldn't do all that she had before so stepped back and allowed others to continue on in the duties she had previously overseen. One day she was rocking one of her babies and was feeling guilty for not being more involved in ministry and really beating herself up for not being more active and involved in the church and thinking that she should be doing more than she was. The Lord stopped her and spoke to her heart and said, "What you're doing right now is the most important thing you could be doing at the moment. Holding your baby and caring for it is your calling for this moment in time. Your child will grow up and there will come a time when you'll be more involved in church ministry. But for now, you are doing what I've called you to do."
Possibly we all go through periods of time when we feel lost or unneeded or like we should be doing something more or different. And I do believe that at times we may get lazy and the Holy Spirit is speaking specifically to us about doing more than what we are. But if you are praying and trying your best to follow God, don't feel guilty when life brings changes and you find yourself doing something completely different than what you've ever done before. When you feel like the world is changing around you and you're left out in left field all alone, know that you're not the only one who feels that way.
Change happens to us all. It may be the death of a spouse that leaves you feeling "lost" or isolated or not knowing how to proceed along. It may be getting married after years of singleness. Perhaps it's changing careers or becoming a stay at home mom. Possibly it's the time when your kids leave home and you find yourself with extra time on your hands and aren't sure how to fill it. You may feel like you're no longer needed, or struggling with finding your place in life.
Regardless of how we may feel during those periods of times in our lives, our desire and goal should be to do whatever we put our hand to do diligently, as if doing it for God. We should want Him to be pleased with our efforts.
I'm still a work in progress and at times battle the place where I find myself, but I want to be willing to grow and learn and allow the Holy Spirit to teach me and help me find joy in whatever place I find myself in life. I want to find contentment at all times and in all things.
I have a niece who recently went through a harrowing but reassuring ordeal. I may repost the details, if I get the full story. But it's worth sharing even with no more than a summary.
She is still driving with a learner's permit, and had both her parents with her. If that wasn't enough to make her nervous, she was also driving her brother's SUV, and pulling onto a highway. She thought she found a safe place in the traffic to pull in from the on-ramp, but it wasn't safe. She hit a smaller car, and started to lose control. But she kept following every instruction she was given, turning when she needed to, etc. Her brother's car was totaled, and I think the other car was, too. But no one was hurt.
Afterward, when they were discussing what happened, she found out the instructions she was following weren't from her dad. They were from her Heavenly Father.
So, we thank God for protecting her, her parents, and those in the other car.
Easy Breakfast Recipe
2 cans Croissants
1 pound sausage
1 package cream cheese, softened
Brown sausage and drain off any excess grease. Mix together the warm sausage and softened cream cheese. Pat one can of the croissants in the bottom of an 8x8 pan to form a crust. Pour sausage/cream cheese mixture over the top. Cover with the second can of croissants to form a top crust. Cook according to the croissant directions on the can.
I love going barefoot inside the house. In the winter, I may put on a pair of socks to keep my feet warm... or not. For many years I have gone barefoot in the house, and from spring through fall wear flip flops whenever possible. This has finally taken a toll on my feet -- I'm sad to say! I will preface this by saying that I have NOT been to a doctor, but have self-diagnosed myself.
My heels started aching. In the morning when I first got out of bed, or if I had sat for a while then stood up to walk, I could barely walk for the pain in my heels. But then after a few steps it would subside and I could walk without limping. My hips also ached and felt like they were out of joint at times.
After doing a lot of research (again -- on my own), I found that going barefoot and not wearing shoes with support or arches have had an adverse affect on my feet. I did my own little personal test and found that when I wore shoes, that had an arch, (in other words, not house shoes or flip flops) during the day, my heels and hips wouldn't hurt. The days I wear shoes -- no pain. The days I go without -- pain. Also, for many years I would buy the cheapest shoes I could find that I liked. My theory on that was: if I bought cheaper shoes, then I could buy more and have a bigger variety to choose from. Most cheaper shoes do not have arches or support in them, I'm sad to say. I have slowly come to the conclusion that I am going to have to start buying better quality shoes, that have arch support, in order to care for my feet; although that likely means I will have fewer pair now. I don't want to be an old lady who has to use a walker or wheelchair or cane because I refused to listen to my body and care for it. The result in not doing so will result in broken down arches, which will result in walking on the outsides of your feet. You can look at the tread of your shoes to see if you do so -- the outsides of the soles will be worn thinner than the insides. I am happy to say, that they do make flip flops that have built in arch support!
My sister, Janie, has had similar issues with her feet and hips. She also has noticed when she wears good quality shoes that have good arch support, then her feet and hips don't hurt -- but they do when she goes barefoot or wears cheaper shoes that have no support.
This is just a public service announcement from my vast supply of knowledge (or not) that may help if you or someone you know have been having these same issues.
I heard this quote from the TV show The Waltons a few days ago.
An old man, who had lost everything when the banks crashed during the depression said:
"You invest your entire life in growing old, so that you can reach 65 and retire."
Made me think: Is growing old so I can retire my main investment and goal for my life,
or am I enjoying the journey and investing in today as well?
We love you!
Loretta & Jon