Faith Going Forward: A Mid-Life Following

I can just barely admit this, but I have finally hauled all the cassette tapes — John Michael Talbot, Carole King, Billy Joel — out from under my bed.

And I’m going to throw them away.

Letting go of this one thing may not free my hands to grab hold of an entire universe, but who knows?

This unloading is initiated, I think, by my oldest son’s purchase of a house:  endless boxes and piles of belongings, so overwhelming, and yet minor, inconsequential compared with my extensively curated mess.

Then, there’s the presence of teen sons still in the nest, their growing competence a continual reminder of my slippage toward obsolescence.
The prayer of my heart as I fill the waste basket with relics from the 1980’s is this:

“Oh, Lord, please keep my heart from becoming brittle and plastic,
unconsciously stuck in rigid notions of my own right-ness.
Grow in me a willingness to jettison anything that slows my growth toward You.”

Capture

I’m sharing this post with readers, writers, and thinkers at The Perennial Gen, a website devoted to the process of growing deeper roots in the dirt and light of midlife.

This offering winds up their October theme of health and wellness, and I’d love it if you’d join me over there now to read about what that looks like here on this country hill in Maine.

And I invite you to join the discussion.

  • Has your heart found grace enough to view, in retrospect, your stumbling steps as the exact price for becoming the person you are today?
  • What are you letting go of at this point in your life in order to move forward in health and wholeness?

//

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Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

60 thoughts on “Faith Going Forward: A Mid-Life Following”

  1. Hi Michele! I’m visiting from the #gritup link up. I’m right there with you. In the middle of life letting go of the hats I wore as mom when all the kids were home and finding great blessing in this new season. Less is more. That includes sweets.. Blessings! `Andy

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    1. Words spoken with wisdom that cut right to my current situation. I’m really watching out for this one, particularly as summer and fall, the seasons of outdoor work and play, end and we all hunker down for our long winter’s nap!

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  2. I have been trying to recycle mine – it’s a long arduous process (you have to remove the tape and the plastic can be recycled). So they sit in a box. Trying to avoid the landfill. I’m hoping an artist will ask to make something from them. Then they’re their problem…#TwinklyTuesday

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  3. This is such an interesting time in life, isn’t it? For the last few years I’ve been giving some of my family “treasures ” to our kids each Christmas. Recently, my mother-in-law began doing the same. Funny, her “treasures ” that seemed so important to me in the past had lost their appeal. Perhaps I’m finally moving closer to what’s really important in life, faith, family, and friends, not tangible “treasures “. Thanks for your encouragement, Michele, to keep putting our Father first.

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    1. I’ve noticed the same thing, Alice — and it makes me wonder if some of the things I’m “saving” for our kids will really end up being a burden to them in the last analysis, something for them to clean out and throw away. At any rate, I’m convinced that the NT writer was right on track when he said to cast aside EVERY weight so that we can run this race. Both the visible and the invisible can bog us down.

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  4. I am in the process of having a massive clear out, selling, donating and recycling what I can. It does feel so good #TwinklyTuesday

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  5. Not Carole King!!! Just kidding, but I really do love some of her music 🙂 Congratulations on this new life stage…even though it probably feels big at the moment. Blessings Michele!

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  6. Oh yes, God has been “clearing away the clutter” of the excess of activities for me! I may chafe under that discipline, but I know He is bringing so much more freedom through it all. And that decluttering does extend to so much of my personal possessions as well–I know that I need to keep taking small steps to clear that out too. Glad that we can encourage each other in these processes! Blessings to you!

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  7. Great questions, Michele! I’m trying to let go of my brittle legalism. I manage to cloak most of the time, but it’s still hiding under the bed and I need to chuck. Thank you for the challenge!

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    1. It’s a heavy thing to carry legalism along with all the other mid-life stuff,. We’re so quick to judge and so slow to admit that we’re wrong. I struggle with this as well, Anita. Thanks for keeping it real.

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  8. Michele, your writing is so beautiful and poignant. I listened to that same music! I’ve also been trying to do some decluttering because next year we have an international move planned. When I look back to all my “extensively curated mess,” it’s so hard to know what to save, what to get rid of. You’re reminding me I have to keep looking FORWARD (not backwards.) heading over to the Perennial Glen now.

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  9. My vacation the past two weeks has really been a “staycation” where my husband and I worked tirelessly on our house. And one of my husband’s tasks was to go through his many boxes of “stuff” from over the years and keep what matters while throwing out what doesn’t, Michele. It was a hard job for my “packrat” husband to let go of things, but after he was finished, he felt so free! Yes, it’s important to let go of things so we can grab hold of what matters! Great thoughts!

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  10. Some of mine are fully out of the nest – and I find that it’s not an obsolete existence – but new steps in this journey of showing my sons how to grow old loving the Lord. New ways to love. New challenges to overcome with the same faith. When my boys finally buy a home, I send them the big plastic bucket with their name and spiritual gift name I wrote on it long ago. It’s filled with their baby book, school work, art work – that I kept through their growing years. It’s an emptying out that is a good thing. Of course, my nest isn’t empty yet – but right now I am experiencing a new role and a new but same way of living with one foot in and one foot out!

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    1. “One foot in and one foot out”
      I love that way of referring to it! And I’m finding that this phase in parenting requires more flexibility from me AND from my children who remain in the nest. There are now grandchildren who come to visit, and I’m pulled in different directions than I was when there were four little stairstep boys who lived here full time.
      But, as you say, these new challenges are met with “the same faith.” I love that.
      I’ve still got the two married boys’ baby books, and still occasionally write in a journal for each of them, but this is something I should be passing along.
      Thanks for sharing your story here.

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  11. Ahhh, Michele. You’ve touched on something God’s been working on in me over the past couple of years. Last year, I purged my project room (I blogged about it at the beginning of this year because it had such an impact on me), and it felt GOOOOD to get rid of all that stuff! It’s time to go through again, as piles have begun to grow in there (How DO they do that?!).

    Other things I’ve jettisoned (or am working on jettisoning) are hurts incurred over the years from various people. Forgiveness is a beautiful lightening balm for the spirit. I’ve found (as I suspect have you) that we need God’s help to let go of some things.

    I so appreciate your words and wisdom!

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  12. Oh Michele, such “things” we hold onto and then find it needful to release. Thank you for the website and thank you for your prayer. I, too, want to grow and delve deeper with flexibility in all that the Lord has for me. ~ linda

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  13. I remember getting rid of all my cassette tapes years ago and how hard it was. I’d thought I’d done that with all my LPs, too, but luckily found them under a bed a few months ago and, after getting a new record player, my daughter is enjoying the records from my childhood. It’s a tricky thing, decluttering…

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  14. Rich stuff here!! Ouch as well….I have cassette tapes stashed on a shelf and in a drawer that I also need to pitch. I have gotten rid of many over the years, but I pull out some and they are full of sentimental moments. BUT I no longer have a cassette deck that works on which to play any of them. And….while we’re talking, I guess that also relates to videotapes as well!! At least some of those (like our children’s weddings) I need to get transferred to DVD’s!

    Books a plenty….absolutely!! When I retired three years ago, I divested myself of many many books in my office on floor to ceiling shelves. I am usually able to do that more easily if I find a “home” for them somewhere else where they can be used. Throwing them in the trash is an obstacle for me. I am taking steps here at home. Little by little I am donating some of my older books to our church library, others from my clinical practice to some who are 30 years younger and working in the field. I am also passing along books to others that I have reviewed, but don’t feel a strong need to keep. This new habit is a step in the right direction since we have book shelves in three different rooms of our home!!!

    I also also begun to give some things here and there to my daughter and daughter-in-law that were my mother’s (a dish here and there) and so it will continue. Even so, you do accumulate a great deal over a life of living!! Joan Chittister’s book , The Gift of Years, speaks to this later season as a time of letting go/giving away things we have spent a lifetime accumulating.

    And, yes, I am indeed at the place in my life where my rearview mirror reminds me of some regrets and more than a few failings, BUT those very things are what the Lord has used to draw me closer to Him, help me know and experience HIs love and grace at deeper levels, and granted me the grace and compassion to more freely extend it to others.

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    1. Yes, I’m sort of resentful of the relentless forward motion of technology that makes beloved movies and music “obsolete” because of its format.
      The book case war is perpetual here as well. I’m trying to be more intentional about immediately putting books I review into the hands of others, even resorting to putting some on a table at church with a sign: “Help Thyself.”
      I had to scroll back up to the top of this comment to remind myself of which post you were attached to because I shared one today on regret, so I guess I’m either in a rut or the Spirit is being very specific with me right now in what He’s teaching me — and of course we know that this is the only thing we can write about with any authority.

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      1. Hopefully, we will both hear His nudges about letting go of things and passing other things along so our lives are less cluttered and encumbered. I certainly identify with your thoughts and words here!

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  15. Yes definitely that letting go– so we have open hands to accept the new things God has for us. Each season needs a reshuffling – letting go- accepting of the new- for us. I’m right there with you…I think whether we are at the beginning …middle…or the end…there will always be time for the re evaluating whether something has been in our life too long- or whether it is a needed permanent fixture.

    Thanks for the food for thought- also enjoyed all the comments- they were equally informative.

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    1. Just like a toddler gripping some useless trinket in a sweaty little fist, we have to open our hands to receive the good. Yes to this “reshuffling” you’ve mentioned. It’s much easier on the visible level than it is with my priorities and my values.
      And thanks for taking time to read comments. I do believe that sometimes the really valuable part of a blog post comes in the comments from thoughtful readers who take time to engage with the post and with each other.

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  16. Well, for one thing, I have my own stash of cassette tapes in my minivan! It still has a cassette player, so I’m hanging onto them until I get rid of it. 😉 And I’m intrigued by The Perennial Gen, because I am at midlife at the very least. Heading over there now. Thank you, Michele! Stopping by here from both #Grace&Truth and #Faith&Friends!

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    1. SO JEALOUS of your cassette playing minivan! I remember when we traded in ours, and I just knew we’d never find another one . . .
      You will love The Perennial Gen. Check out their contributor’s guidelines as well.

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  17. As always, your post is on point in my life. You’d think with as much as we move I would de-clutter more often. But you just never know when you’re going to need that particular length of curtain or that Friends series on DVD. But the clutter is weighing me down! And I need to let it go. I need to let go of this attitude of scarcity that keeps me hoarding useless-to-me-in-this-moment junk. Thanks for the reminder! Blessings!

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  18. it can feel like letting go of precious times, but those memories are in our hearts forever, not in the object themselves. Change can be so hard, sending prayers and love your way right now xx #mg

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    1. This is a great and very helpful point, Mackenzie. The object is only a symbol, and I’m finding that if I don’t let go of something, it all becomes meaningless and begins to own me. (And again, this is true both on the material and the soulish level.)

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  19. Such insightful questions, Michele! Karen Ehman once said something that stuck with me about different ways of achieving the same results. Two plus two is four. One plus three is four. And three plus one is four. It helps me see my way is not the only way or even the only right way.

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  20. I am truly at the beginning of this season in life and it is so sweet for sure. My oldest just graduated from high school in June and my two younger will be graduating High school in four very short years! Seasons like these teach me the brevity of life and it makes my heart new by being grateful for every sweet little moment. Every night I can’t believe that another day has passed and we are one day closer to the end of this season.

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    1. Yes, this season is full of so many changes, and the difference is (I think) that they are mostly ricochets from the decisions of others — either growing up children or aging parents. It can yield lots of blessing and requires lots of prayer!

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  21. OMG those cassette tapes bring back so many memories.How technology has progressed over the years. Let us strive to not lay up for ourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but rather lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

    Shanique |www.rocksolidfaith.ca

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