Bit by Bit

Photo by Pam Ecrement

As I look out the window or step outside, little by little, bit by bit, the leaves are showing off their autumn finery. It doesn’t happen all at once in our part of the country so when it begins, it is barely noticeable. In our lawn, we know it will be our dogwood first whose leaves will start to tinge red, locust and maples come along next, and last the stately oaks. Each makes its entry onto the stage to show off its own shade and hue of color. Each also drops its leaves at a different time.

Autumn is my favorite time of year as we enjoy the bluest of skies often and the varying temperatures that tend to be not too hot and not too cold, not saturated with humidity, and beyond the busier seasons of readying the house, lawn, garden, and deck for the summer season or winter. 

It is also the season when I met the man I would marry and fell in love with and the season of my birth (October). I love the colored leaves and their crunch under my feet when I am outdoors and the smell of good soup simmering on the stove or a warm apple pie coming out of the oven since it is peak apple season where I live.

Getting older doesn’t happen all at once either. It happens little by little so that we barely notice how quickly time is passing except on special occasions where we get reminded of the year by that event. We discover it is different for each of us as we approach the last quarter of our lives. All we were before and how we responded to those things impact how each of us enters this season.

Photo by Pam Ecrement

Harder still to fathom is to be getting older while still seeming inside to be the same person. Each decade and season has its own opportunities if we are willing to see them. Now we have the time to reflect and consider who we are inside instead of defining ourselves by the public face of what we do.

Therein can be a conundrum.

“Of course I am all the experiences I have ever been, on one level. But on another level, I am only what people see when they look at me now. Finally, I am only what I have prepared myself to be beyond what I did.” 

Joan Chittister

Those who have known us the longest have likely a much broader understanding of all that makes us up versus simply who people see us as at this moment. They may recall when we married, became parents, bought our first home, became grandparents, walked through the aging of our own parents and more. Those we met later on the path have only a partial view of us and what has brought us to this place and season. 

I have had many roles and different experiences before now. I was a Marine Corps officer’s wife, a housewife and mother who stayed at home enjoying that role until our youngest was halfway though elementary school. I was someone who loved writing and wrote articles for our monthly church newsletter then that led to working as a correspondent for a newspaper in the next county for three years and gave me options to use a camera to help tell the stories I wrote. Both were things I loved but were not what my education had taught me to do.

Photo by Pam Ecrement

Next came active local ministry roles in leading various women’s ministry programs for another three years that gave me a chance to grow in my faith and how to reach across denominational lines to bring the body of Christ as women closer together. A very different path followed when my local school district where I had done student teaching asked me to help with a remedial reading program that fit well with the ages of our children and kept me at home without a lot of prep demands for another several years. Then one day I was asked by the superintendent to take the position of a junior high special education class. Even though I had majored in elementary and special education, this was not a position I had planned for my future and yet it seemed like an open door of what became a pattern in my life.

The pattern I speak of was how throughout my life I was asked to take on a role or job or position of one kind or another rather than seeking or applying for it. It seemed that the Lord maybe knew the path He desired me to take and left to my own devices I might muck it all up. 

The special education position was anything but easy, but I cared a lot about these students and taught them for 13 years while doing various ministry things like National Marriage Encounter with my husband and lay counseling in our local church at that time. That combination of things clarified that my love of relational things and people were at the core of me and led me (after my husband) to enter graduate school to become a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Independent Marriage and Family Therapist in mid-life and leave a tenured teaching position to enter a Christian private practice.

Photo by Pam Ecrement

I was never someone who would call myself a courageous person so each of these transitions challenged me with fears about my ability, competence, endurance, and more. Some thought I was foolish to be leaving a secure teaching position to become part of a private practice where I took an immediate pay cut and lost great less expensive benefits. But part of getting older bit by bit is how we face the fears that can confront us when we step out of one place we know into a new one.

“Fear tempts us to believe life it over – rather than simply changing. A blessing of fear in these years is that it invites us to become the fullness of ourselves.” 

Joan Chittister

I would never have guessed I would go to graduate school and certainly not in mid-life nearing closer to fifty. But something nudged me forward in that arena despite my shaky knees and sense of being not quite as capable as I needed to be. It took longer doing it part-time (5 years) while teaching full-time and still being a wife and parent, but I faced the fear and discovered more about myself than I would have otherwise.

I pursued new things, became a learner again, and felt excitement about stepping once again into a new beginning. Facing the fear gave place to experiencing joy, discovering more of God’s purpose and plans for what gifts He had placed in me. 

Bit by bit God had used everything I experienced before now into a pattern I could never have guessed when I was younger. And I had no idea where this new path would lead me next on my way to the new now.

How we adapt to change and the choices we make and how we respond to them make all the difference. And I could never have guessed what He would have in store next.

Photo by Pam Ecrement

20 thoughts on “Bit by Bit

  1. Congratulations, your post will be featured on Monday at SSPS #283 as member of the week. See you again on Monday.

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