*Lest you’re tempted to quit here, the protagonist in this series is NOT the minivan.
You know those haunting movie scenes?
The ones that cozy up to our psyche and loop in our brains – like a hamster spinning on its wheel . . .
Now Playing in my head is a fifteen second slice-of-life, recently recorded from my minivan window:
I can still see it – a living, breathing definition of what I ache for.
The morning I glimpsed this game changer was laundry-level mundane.
Fresh from my morning ritual of half-eaten breakfasts, impotent school truancy threats, and the kicking of my kids to their respective curbs, I bee-lined across the final school parking lot, reeling from the familiar rerun of “I can’t go to go today because my _____ hurts, and also because I don’t like school!”
I lunged for the solace of an empty minivan, when my peripheral vision caught sight of a grade school boy clutching a white mobility cane. I’d never seen him before in my flurry of school deposits and withdrawals. So I paused, and watched him shuffle timidly across the sidewalk towards his mother.
“Walk with a purpose,” she prodded, glancing up from her phone. Her voice was void of pity and brimming with edification.
It was all he needed.
His shuffle instantly transfigured into a fearless march. Strides were strong as he felt his way forward. It was purpose – raw and real, and it infused every footstep.
I climbed into my minivan, jolted by this life-fragment unfurling before me. It roused something soul-deep.
I rolled out of the parking lot, awestruck, at this breathing blend of bravery and resolve – stepping through the darkness. Few, even with larger foot sizes, could ever fill his 10-year-old shoes.
Recently, I’ve surfaced from 24-7 motherhood (at least in principle). My offspring – in spite of various protests – are now in school full-time.
In this strange new world, I’ve stumbled upon an ample supply of oxygen. Here, I can take deep breaths – instead of the quick gasps for air I’m used to – before submerging again. It’s gifted me with time and space for introspection – and also with a chance to use the bathroom alone. In these newfound moments of quiet, I often ponder purpose.
I’ve heard midlife crisis defined as the collision of what life realistically is and what you hoped it would be. In essence, it’s our self-evaluation of purpose.
Perhaps I’ve arrived.
I know this because I now find myself grieving significant desires that are not to be, like:
- A riding lawnmower (Husband veto. But seriously, I’m not asking for a Harley. . .)
- Reading small print (at least without trombone-ing it . . . 40+ers, you know what I mean).
- Contact sports (supplanted by . . . pickleball, where impact is limited to high fives).
- A working metabolism
Aside from a loss of some personal pride, this list seems pretty benign. (Certainly, the first world-ness of it is not lost on me. Perhaps it is not so benign?)
Where I feel it most acutely, though, is at the heart-level. Something at the crossroads of desire and reality nags for closer scrutiny. Here, I’ve unearthed a cognitive dissonance.
Do I truly trace my Savior’s footsteps, or just appear to? I find my purpose, cleverly disguised: Outwardly ornamented with the appearance of following Christ. Inwardly, a heart tuned towards my own.
This is my spiritual midlife crisis. I am not so keen on living with either of these last two words, and so desire to press in harder.
Purpose-Driven, and a 108,711 Mile Odometer.
When I close my eyes, that non-fiction short still loops in my brain. Through the hand print smears of my minivan window, I see the brave one: He walks in the shadows with relentless drive. I hear his mother calling, “Walk with a purpose” – but I swear she is looking right at me.
I long for a mobility of obedience that moves forward, even in darkness.
So here I sit, in the driver’s seat amid life’s crumbs and coffee stains. I’m turning the key in the ignition, unsure of where I’m headed. But per Newton, forward motion seems promising.
The passenger seat is empty. Just saying . . .
[Stay tuned for future posts in this series.]