For Everything There is a Season (Day 5 from an untitled collection)
As I sit here I can hear the wind howling outside and feel the cold creeping into the night giving us a harsh reminder that the long winter months had arrived. So often writers or artists associate this time of year with negative emotions, but as a gardener, winter is a time of preparation and hope as we plan for the spring gardening season. With that in mind, to me, winter represents our retirement years until the time God calls us home.
I had been standing on God’s promise that our latter years were better than our beginning and as time grew closer the hope of what those years would be like became almost alive within my heart, the Bible puts it this, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV). For the last thirteen years, we had worked together, and when the time, came we retired together as well. It’s been a short seven years since we retired and I will say God kept His promise and our latter years have been all He said they would be. Our relationship has grown and in many ways, we have become an older version than the people we once were.
Our biggest issue is our health, we’ve had to learn to depend on each other when I tore the meniscus in my knee my husband filled in and did my work for me, and when he got hurt this last gardening season I fill in for him. It was the same when he had his back surgery, and I had neck surgery and shoulder replacement. Then last year we discovered how hard it was when both of us were having issues, but with the Lord's help we got through it the best we could, and if we couldn’t we learned how to live with it. Never before had I understood Isaiah 46:4 like I did this gardening season, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who sustains you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (NIV).
I have come to think our retirement years are spent learning all the lessons we failed to when we were younger, for example, I have always been very independent and if you told me I couldn’t do it, I would show you I could . . . even if it killed me. The year we moved to the lake I had rotator cuff surgery in both arms and five years later a reverse shoulder replacement in my right. Our yard is not the easiest for a garden with 90% of it on a hill that has a lot of trees, and of course tree roots, but I was determined to have my garden. Then this past growing season I pushed myself beyond my limits and collapsed in the garden. Now I have a decision to make, lose the garden I love or find a way to make it easier for me to maintain. I’ve gone over every possibility and the only option is to move it, and the only way I can do that is to find someone to help me. Adjusting to limitations just isn’t me, when my shoulder was replaced the doctor told me of the limitations I would have but all I heard yeas you won’t be able to do . . . and I can do all those things because of physical therapy, but there is no therapy for what is happening now, we all get older and all the things we did to push our bodies when we were younger catches up with us. My mind tells me I can do anything I set my mind to do, but my body winds the argument. I’m losing my independents. One afternoon I was walking through the garden, feeling sorry for myself, when the Lord spoke to my heart, “You can do all things through Me, for I will strengthen you” (modified version of Philippians 4:13 NIV). I spent the next hour or so understanding what He was really saying to me. In my mind, He was saying He would give me the strength to do it myself, but in my heart, He was telling me He would give me the strength to make the changes within myself.
Retirement Lesson #1 Learn your limitations, and Lesson #2 Learn to ask or accept help. Oh, I still have so much to learn, and I thought our golden years were supposed to be fun!