All of my life I have been a solitary human being. I seldom reached out to build relationship with people; I almost never sought and cultivated relationships with people in my profession. I did two things: raised my children and tried to run my church.
Because of the way I lived, I grew up and have lived as an adult with a skewed vision of what life is all about. I robbed myself of wonderful relationships which could have helped me emotionally and spiritually in some of the situations in which I found myself. Being in those relationships would have afforded me wise counsel from those whom I trusted and who loved me, and would have allowed me to see that what I was feeling or not feeling was not unique.
People reached out to me, but I did not reach back because I did not know how. I thought that “being there” in a pastoral role for my church members was adequate, but I didn’t realize that “being there” and forming relationships are two different things.
I never asked for help – not for anything. I figured if there was an issue, I’d figure it out, and I normally did, but I did so at the expense of benefitting from people who had “been there, done that” and who could have helped me see things I did not see.
I learned late that the way I was living was not the way to live. I wrote about 15 years ago that I had lived in a cocoon, but writing about it didn’t mean I got out of it. The cocoon was safe, and I stayed inside of it. But safety was not what I needed. I needed to come out of the cocoon and let my wings dry so that I would be able to fly and soar.
I watch people now and see others who live as I lived. I listen to people who say they have few friends. I watch people as they crumble from situations that happen in the lives of all people just because they do not have a support system to help them get through it all.
I was young …and now I am old. In the Christian Bible there is a psalm that says just that: “I have been young and now I am old, yet, I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging for bread.” It occurs to me that one cannot be “righteous,” i.e., be in relationship with God if we are not in relationship with each other.
I, the preacher, have been out of genuine relationship with God because I have not been in relationship with human beings. What a troubling revelation!
When you get older, you start getting things meant to attend to your aging. When you hit age 50, you get sent an automatic registration for the AARP. You get notices about products you can use for incontinence, hearing loss, and aching joints.
What you don’t get, however, are notes to remind you that you still have time to make thigs right in your life, to make relationships, to stop living an isolated life, and to experience life in a new way, be you incontinent, suffering and crippled from arthritis, or both.
What is clear is that being a “late bloomer” is not a bad thing. It is a blessing, a gift, to make sure that for the rest of the days you have on earth, you can live life “abundantly.”
It is hard to begin again when you are older…but it is not impossible. The cocoons in which so many of us have lived are not prisons unless we make them so. They are, instead, self-imposed berths of isolation which have weak seats and thin walls.
We can, in other words, break free.
A candid observation …