My husband and I are entering new seasons in our lives. Howard retired from teaching in December and is now starting a new career in real estate. I am coming to the end of my 15th year teaching, and am exhausted. So, we have made the decision that this will also be my last year teaching – at least for a while. I may go back in the future; I may not. But for the coming school year, I’m resigning my position and venturing into the unknown. I’ll be writing and blogging and creating and resting. And I’ll be open to new directions the Lord may lead me and us.
It is scary and exciting to contemplate, “What next?” I always figured I’d teach until I retired, but after much prayer, thought, and discussion, we are both sure that this is the right decision for the immediate future. I wonder if this is how David felt when he first fled from Saul, or Esther when she first entered the king’s beauty contest, or even Mary and Joseph, when they first received the news that a Savior was to be born. What next?
God doesn’t give us a step-by-step guidebook; He gives us a personal Guide in the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t show us the end goal, but only the next step on the journey. And so, Howard and I are starting on a new journey which will take us where the Lord wants us to be. I know we’ll end up there – where He wants us – because that is our desire. God never takes lightly the commitment and desire of His children to follow where He leads.
But “What now?” is a legitimate question. If you, too, are entering a new season of life, wondering what’s next here are some tips that speak to my heart in this time, and I hope will speak to yours.
Continue to trust and pray. Psalm 37:4 – 5 are two of my favorite verses for new seasons.
Delight yourself in the LORD,
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him and He will do it.
Do what you already know to do. A friend from a different season of life used to put it this way: what do you know that you know that you know? Do that. At the time, Howard had left me and the boys (ages 8 & 11), and filed for divorce, leaving us alone with no income and only a 10-year-old car. But we had good and godly friends. And the thing I knew that I knew that I knew was that I had to fight for custody. Howard was asking for custody of the boys because I was unemployed (having been a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother for years). It was my decision to fight him that caused him to reconsider and agree to reconciliation and counseling. It wasn’t the cure-all, but it was a step in the right direction. And it happened because I did what I knew to do. I had no inkling of how it would all turn out, but the Lord did, and that was enough for me.
Don’t cut off old friends and support systems. You’ll need them! Keep up with good friends by scheduling girls’ night, going out to lunch whenever possible, or calling on the phone (remember that old-school technology? It still works!). Staying in touch with social media – Facebook, Instagram, and others – is just not the same as face-to-face or personal voice. Keep in touch!
Find new support systems. If you’re transitioning from working to being a stay-at-home mom, find others in the same boat, maybe through a group at your church like MOPS. If you’re going to work, don’t eat lunch alone at your desk, but build relationships that will help you to feel comfortable in your new role. If you’re retiring, jump into volunteering, or start a new, part-time career. The key is to find others in a similar season of life who can pray with and for you, and give you good, godly advice about what’s next.
Keep up with the important things in life. So, some things are changing in your life; not everything is. Stay faithful to your devotions; keep up with date nights; continue going to church and serving in the middle school ministry (bless you, brave souls!). Connect with who and what is most important regularly, even as seasons change. Your schedule for these things might change – leisurely devotions every morning are not in the cards when you’re a mom of a baby and toddler who also holds down a day job – but keep them somehow. When I was a homeschooling and daycare-providing mom, my devotional times were erratic, but I kept them. Sometimes it was at naptime (my kids took ‘naps’ – mandatory quiet times, whether they slept or read – till my oldest was 7!), sometimes after they were in bed, and sometimes, but rarely, in the mornings. My mornings were hectic because kids know when you get up!
These are just a few ideas of keeping your balance while changing your life. Let me know what works for you in the comments below.