In a previous article on retirement, I wrote about lament as an important part of adjusting to the new reality of retirement. As important as it is to allow ourselves to experience these feelings and deal with them in the presence of God, it is also important to remember that we were never meant to stay in that place of grief. Even though there will always be a small part of us that misses the lives we used to have, we have an opportunity now to make a choice regarding the attitude we are going to have as we move forward to a new season of life.
I would like to suggest that retirement can be a time of invigoration. Jesus reminded his disciples and us in John 10:10 that he came so we could have life and have it to the full…. rich, abundant life filled with God’s goodness and grace. Every morning we wake up, we have a choice to make about whether we are going to accept that full life or not. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves how our days would be different if were to begin each new day dedicating it to God. We could start by asking God to give us the attitude of acceptance of the gift of a full life and make a choice to allow ourselves to be invigorated by the discovery of this new adventure that awaits us called retirement.
Every day we can be invigorated by discovery of new passions for ministry and service. When we were working, we didn’t have the time or energy to fully explore outside interests that didn’t pertain to raising a family or performing our jobs. Now we have time, and it can be exciting to ask God to open doors to new opportunities we have previously been interested in but didn’t have time to pursue. Perhaps you always wanted to paint, or learn to cook, or write your memoirs, or play a sport. Maybe even launch a hobby business. The list is endless and limited only by your imagination. The soul is truly invigorated when we can feel a sense of mastery of a new endeavor. Perhaps you can audit or enroll in classes at your local college or university. Open your mind and your heart and be invigorated.
The discovery of the joy of serving is another way to energize yourself during retirement. Discover the pure joy and invigoration of feeling the Spirit of God flowing through us to touch the hearts and lives of others in need. It is at those times that we can acutely feel close to the presence of Jesus. It is then we are acting the most like Jesus. There are so many nonprofits that desperately need of volunteers. Explore ministry opportunities in your community and then pray about where God might be leading you. It might mean that you need to get outside your comfort zone, but there is a powerful sense of accomplishment when you learn to trust God and “walk on the water.”
One of the most invigorating activities that has added so much to my retirement is when I discovered the pure joy of mentoring those younger than me. I have the blessing of mentoring about 20 young women in the Gen-Z and Millennial age groups. If we have gotten to retirement, that means we have lived long lives that have experience God’s goodness and grace. Now we can let those lives speak truth into those coming behind us. Young people are looking for authentic people who can show them how to live faithfully and passionately before God. Whether you know it or not, your life has been preaching. I have found that the mentees don’t necessarily want me to fix their problem, or to preach at them, or give them five easy steps to success. They don’t always want my advice. They want someone to listen. Someone who will help them know how to listen to God and follow him. Ask God to show you at least one younger person who might need an older, (hopefully) wiser person to come alongside them and be the person who helps them make sense of the world in the light of God’s word.
As you make the choice each day to allow your life to be open to the possibility of the discovery of new opportunities, you will find yourself with renewed vigor and excitement for each new day. I have discovered the joy of “reinventing” myself. In retirement, God opened new doors for expanded prayer ministry and for writing opportunities. Wherever God leads you in this new season of life, embrace it, thank Him for it, and be invigorated by it.
Rev. Deb Koster