Thursday, June 11, 2015

My Life Vision

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.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lyn --

You are a very talented writer - so I hope whatever you decide on (a book, perhaps?) you continue to write. I have a teenager now, and I honestly long for the days I was pushing around a stroller. Yes there were sleepless nights and many other challenges but I miss those challenges compared to these challenges.

Thank you for sharing your stories with us!

-Beth

joni said...

I believe you can have whatever you put your mind to. So stay true to your heart and dreams and they will stay true to you.

Anonymous said...

I for one believe your religious background plays heavily into your eating issues. I am glad you are leaving it behind and finding a new purpose, since obviously the world didn't end and we all hope you have many years left to enjoy life. Good thinking process here.

Lyn said...

Thank you for the encouragement :)

Feeling good about this.

Deb Willbefree said...

A major life change can absolutely happen in one's forties; in fact, it happens almost automatically as women find themselves with an empty nest at about that age. I mean, unless you are actually fulfilled by being married to a house (As in housewife), you're thoughts and energies will naturally look to using that larger amount of child-free time in a way that is meaningful to you.

I was a SAHM, too, not going back to finish my undergrad until I was 34 years old and my sons were in middle school. I left for class after they got on the bus for school and was home before them in the afternoon, so it was barely a blip on their radar screen. I started working part-time when they were in high school. When I was 40 years old, I went to grad school for the first time.. When I was 48, I graduated with my SECOND master's degree. Bu then, my sons were in their twenties and no longer at home...or mostly no longer at home. You know how that goes...

Beginning at age 37, I began working in an agency seeing adults who had been sexually abused as children, then later, established my own private practice, and later still added hospital social work. During that time, I completed 100s of hours of CEUs, several certifications and a state license. Mostly, I was privileged to see hundreds of women heal from abuse that most people only hear about on the news or watch in movies--not only heal, but thrive as they came into their own.

Yeah. A lot of really great things can happen after forty. One life stage fades, but another begins. and for me, it has come full circle as I am retired from social work/counseling and am blessed to have grandchildren frequently in my care.

God is good. He'll show you what you need to do next.

Deb

JM said...

What a great time to look forward! Perhaps a new perspective is just the thing!

Anonymous said...

Having children was my vision too. I always wanted a big family, but had to stop at 3 for financial reasons. I get jealous when I see big families, so I know where you are coming from. My ideal would have been having babies when I had teens old enough to help. I always wanted my children to have siblings in a wide range like that, but it was not meant to be. I struggle, too, with finding a purpose aside from "Mom."

looniechemist said...

Lyn,

I've been a longtime reader (for multiple years, ever since 2008 when I lost 60 pounds and was looking for bloggers), but I haven't ever commented. This post really resonates with me, because it makes me realize we could not be more different. I have no inclination towards having kids and instead got multiple degrees, culminating in my Ph.D. in chemistry in 2010. I work full-time as a scientist, and I'd much rather advance our scientific and technological progress and be the best auntie ever than have children of my own.

And yet, despite our differences in background, you really resonate with me, because we are on the same path. Once you lose weight, how do you cope with that? How do you maintain it? How do you avoid some fluctuation? (The truth: you probably don't, and that's ok) How do you reconcile your new, healthy lifestyle with old friends, daily life, etc.? It's very interesting that you've chosen to blog about the good times, even something as simple as a beautiful day, and also the bad times. I, for one, really appreciate a blog written by an actual, fallible human being.

So, thanks. I'll keep reading. And you keep trucking, friend.

Lyn said...

looniechemist~

thank you for that heartfelt comment. I think we do have a lot in common even though we each have a different emphasis in our lives on what we focus on. I'll have to come look at your blog. It sounds like you are balancing many things in a pretty successful way! I think fluctuation is going to happen but I'll have to set a narrow boundary for that and always work on staying within that boundary. Take care!

Heartful said...

Have you considered becoming a foster parent? I think it just might be up your alley.

You'd get to continue mothering, all while making a difference. :)

(We fostered for over ten years.)

Lyn said...

Heartful~

I have, yes. We have had five foster children in the past (not all at once!) and I loved making a difference in those childrens' lives, and loved each one of them very much. It is emotionally heart wrenching at times though when they are sent back to unfortunate situations, or when a parent damages their little child for life. Right now I am fostering for animal rescue instead because it fits my situation and schedule better, but I would consider fostering children again when my youngest is older.