Hello Living Hope, I wanted to introduce you to another guest blogger this week! So thankful for God’s gifted servants, Mitch Pollic and Cindy Ponchot. I hope what God has laid on their hearts will be encouraging and challenging to you today!
A reflection on living to experience heaven now. A mix of writing from Richard Rohr’s inspirational thought of “Falling Upward” and the musing applications of Mitch Pollic – spiritual care coordinator with Heartland Hospice and Cindy Ponchot- wife, mother of 3 grown children, “Nana” to 5 gkids, she began a relationship with God at age 5 and yet is closer now due to the sufferings she has faced over the past 14 years. She has been wounded, broken, and redeemed only to rise stronger.
Part 1 Second Half Living
Look around you….What is this all for? What is the human project about? In the first part of life much of our concern is about rising, achieving, accomplishing, performing. Once you have collected your life experiences in neat containers, created an ego structure, and have established your identity- you may finally have the courage to ask: “What is this all for?” You may not realize it, but you are wrestling with wanting more meaning to your life. You may be about to enter the second half of your life. Richard Rohr asks the searching questions: “If the first part of your life is about storing your life in neat containers, the second part of your life seems to be about the contents within your containers. What am I supposed to do with this?” You may begin unpacking the non-essential from the essentials. Some never get to second half living. Surely you have met people that haven’t grown up beyond themselves.
What prevents us from growing into the second half of life? Perhaps we have become so addicted to our life experiences that the tasks of the first half of life seem like the only way to live. Tasks that stroke your ego and bring you pleasure: like your traditions, your expectations, houses, cars, your comfortable items. We live our lives out of these containers. They mean the world to us yet most of their focus doesn’t truly reward our soul they are just toil and leave us empty inside and extremely tired. So to move beyond yourself- your ‘empty tasks and comfortable life’ – you need something to make it all fall apart. Your life needs a challenge or a mess: job loss, divorce, sickness, etc to harness and re-focus your life. Cindy remembers hearing this many years ago a Pastor of mine said, “If you haven’t had your boat rocked yet, you will someday. Hold on…it will be rocked”. I sat there somewhat proud, thinking of how that could never happen to me.” This is what is meant by ‘necessary suffering,’ your soul and your emotional life becomes ‘rocked’ immensely through this happening or falling. It can also crush you and result in becoming trapped in life’s tragedy, stuck in a rut. Cindy further comments “My life seemed to be neatly contained. Richard Rohr speaks of that container in your first half of life. Those containers are made of our life experiences, protecting us from all sorts of things, and in our containers are items we have that bring us pleasure and comfort. By the time we are much older, those items held in our container, seem to leave us empty. Somehow the pride we had in our beautifully designed container, falls short now. We are left powerless when the walls of our containers start to come apart.” This realization of your life falling apart isn’t a happy day. It is a heavy burden of seemingly forced change to our lives, later to be seen perhaps as a necessary suffering. If you can find grace or freedom in that falling or through this falling, you may find that this ‘perceived mess’ can indeed move your life forward, upward, broader, deeper, perhaps better. Just the opposite of what you first think when the necessary suffering begins. To some, a traumatic event can seriously inhibit personal growth, especially when escaping the pain we feel becomes our daily motivation. To be real honest, we suck at solving our own problems. We become extremely myopic, focusing so closely to “the event, person, or issue” of the necessary suffering that caused all this pain. We hurt and shut down, sometimes deeply and for a great length of time. Sometimes we resolve to keep living out our first half of life containers, seeking no other answer, lost and without hope; just functioning within the mundane of life as we rearrange our containers.
However, to some there is a discovery, a light bulb alights their darkness and births hope in the midst of our rocked lives. All the containers are dumped, our stuff is exposed. Now what? Do we continue first half living and just repackage it? Become more task and toil oriented? Or do we enter second half living? Begin a new life journey? What does that look like? Is it possible to be freer as we face the challenges of life? Can heaven come nearer to my everyday living?