When I was a little girl of 5 or 6, I had no idea what I wanted my life to be like. Sure, I wanted lots of toys, and ice cream for breakfast, and attention. I wanted to play outside and skip naps. But I didn't know what I wanted my life to be like when I grew up. I never even thought about that. When I was 9 or 10, I thought I'd like to become a veterinarian. I loved animals, especially dogs, cats, and horses, so that seemed like the best choice ever until I realized that would mean cutting them open sometimes, or seeing them die. I changed my mind after that, and figured I'd be the next best thing: a mom. And a violinist. I still have the pencil drawings I made, featuring all the children I would have someday: many boys, and sometimes, a little girl. I named them all. It would be so fun to be a mother!
But that dream was put on the back burner for a true life vision that was carved out for me by my religious upbringing. As a young Jehovah's Witness in the 70's and early 80's, I was told that this world was not going to be around much longer. Everyone around me who was not a Witness would be killed at Armageddon... and soon. And there would be a "New System" where me my faithful friends and I would all live together in paradise on earth, never growing old and never getting sick. We'd rebuild a lovely, crime-free society under the watchful eye of Jehovah and his Organization. Back then, we were taught that the people who were alive and old enough to understand world events when World War 1 began would still be alive (at least some of them) when this world came to a violent end. In fact, when I was a young teen we were constantly told that it was very unlikely that this world would even be around when I reached the age of 25. After all, those WW1 people would be in their 90's by then! So surely, Armageddon was coming soon. We were told *not* to plan to go to college, *not* to put our trust in "the World" or plan a career here, and that it would be by far the best choice, and most pleasing to Jehovah if we remained single and focused our lives on Him. But if we "had" to get married, because of our fleshly lusts and to avoid sinning, we surely should not bear any children. It would be so selfish to bring children into a world that was about to become so evil and put them through a Great Tribulation where there would be so much pain and suffering. (From what I understand, these things are no longer taught by Jehovah's Witnesses, but they certainly were when I was a child. I have the old Watchtower publications to prove it).
So my Life Vision shifted from one of motherhood to one of serving God. I became an ordained minister at the age of 14, and focused all my energy on learning, studying, and sharing my religion... "The Truth"... with others. I did not want their blood on my hands at Armageddon, so I had to share it with everyone I could. I did not plan anymore to have children. I did not plan to go to college, so although I was an A student, I never took the SAT's or thought about a career. Instead, I would go to "Bethel" in New York and work for the Watchtower Society when I was old enough, serving Jehovah with my life. But until then I would be a full-time, unpaid minister, preaching to the masses. In my senior year in high school, I did Work Study as a minister; mornings I went to school and took regular classes, and then at noon I left school to do my career work in the ministry.
But once again my Life Vision was about to change. When I was 18, I decided after much study that I did not believe all of the doctrines of that religion. And when I left, I no longer had any real purpose or goal for the rest of my life. I was suddenly faced with the thought that maybe, perhaps, I would need to find some other career and I might even get to live for many more decades right here on earth with everyone else. What to do with myself for all those decades? My old dream of motherhood came back to me, and while I was waiting for the right Someone to begin a family with, I went to college to get some basic credits for whatever degree I would eventually decide on. Social work seemed like a great direction to go, so I took a few classes in that field along with all the general ed stuff.
When I got married, my Life Vision was crystal clear! Wife, and mother of many! And that gave me a lot of joy and a sense of purpose over the two and a half decades that have followed. My whole goal in life was to be a good Mom and Wife and I assumed my husband and I would grow old together, have a dozen kids and several dozen grandkids, and then we'd all go to heaven and be a family forever.
Fast forward to now. That dream came party true, with my five children, but some of that dream dissolved when I got divorced. I wouldn't grow old with him, and I wouldn't have nearly as many children as I had planned. And something I hadn't counted on: my kids are all growing up. Oh, I don't mean I thought they'd stay little forever. I mean I thought I'd keep having babies Duggar-style until grandkids started rolling in, so there would always be little ones and babies for me to care for. But here I am at 45 and I am acutely aware that while I will always be a mother, I won't always be mothering in the capacity I used to. I have adult children who are away at college, have moved out, or are getting ready to move out. I am not going to be changing diapers and tending little ones nonstop as the main purpose of my life for the next 40 years.
It's time for a new Life Vision.
I don't know exactly what it is yet. I have a career path I love, but that, to me, is not the whole purpose of my life. I do know I don't want to stagnate. I want to make a difference. I want to do things that are meaningful and that bring me joy and peace. I do like many aspects of my life now, but I want more. I want something to fill that void of "babies everywhere" that I'd expected to occupy myself with. And I think getting myself into the best health possible is a good beginning to a new dream.
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