Waiting

IT’S ALMOST two months since I retired from my position of Senior Social Worker in Outback Queensland. At the time I thought I would be relocating closer to Brisbane to an over 50s active lifestyle resort. That was subject to the sale of my house here in Charleville.

Despite sensing very strongly that moving from the Outback was part of God’s plan for me, that has not happened. That in itself has been something of a puzzle—did I really hear from God, or was that a figment of my imagination?  I am yet to work that out. What I do know is that retirement was definitely the right thing to do.

In the past two months I have been discovering the joy of knowing God more and what he has in mind for me.  In retirement I have been able to return to my love of writing, spending hours working on a new book, which is still in its embryonic stage, reading up on how to better utilise my blog, and being inspired through the work of two authors to boldly claim my calling as a writer.

There are significant challenges to living in the Outback, particularly being isolated from family and friends. However, for now I will set those aside and concentrate on God’s call for me to ‘Write the vision!’ That call came many, many years ago when I was a young mother living in Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea.  It came from an Old Testament book (Habakkuk 2:2) and spoke of writing in such a way that it would be easy for people to read and understand what God was saying to them. The ‘vision’ is God’s message of hope, healing and wholeness that is available for us all, and which is so needed in this chaotic world of ours.

For me, the waiting to leave Charleville remains. However, for now I am in a holding pattern waiting for me Pilot, my LORD and my God, to decide when it is best to make the next move. I am so very content, regardless of where I am. The words of Jeremiah the prophet have been so reassuring over the past weeks:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm   you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”                 (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Retirement – A time to live

SEVEN WEEKS into retirement and I haven’t looked back. Being able to do what I want when I want has been bliss—relaxing, refreshing and restorative. In these early weeks I have felt myself literally unwinding, becoming much more at ease with myself physically, emotionally and spiritually. I am ready to enjoy all that the next my phase of my life has to offer.

Retirement is not the end of life’s journey; rather it is the beginning of an exciting episode that brings with it a fresh awareness of one’s individuality, independence and integrity. To be rid of the restrictions of one’s work environment and free to decide how one really wants to live is satisfying. However, the transition into retirement has its challenges.

One’s social network changes when one finishes work.   With the loss of the common interest of work, social interaction with former colleagues soon diminishes. Establishing a new social network, particularly in a small remote community can be problematic, and nigh impossible. Finding a fresh purpose in life can also be challenging and, again, in a small community it can be particularly difficult. However, retirement brings with it the opportunity to pursue one’s interests whether that be involvement with community organisations, a hobby, gardening, sporting activities such as lawn bowls or swimming, spending more time with family and friends, travel or outings to the movies or theatre, the latter being non existent in some remote towns. Opportunities do abound; they are limited only by one’s imagination and perseverance.

While some retirees can sit back and watch the world go by, others thrive on mental and social stimulation and are intent on making the most of their days. We all need to learn what interests us the most, set appropriate goals and move into the business of living life to the full, just as it is intended.

It is in one’s latter years that we can spend time reflecting on life in general, its meaning, and whether we have lived as God desired for us. J. I. Packer wrote his book on aging—Finishing Our Course With Joy[1]—when he was 88 years old. It is a gem, a pertinent reminder that retirement does not mean sitting back and doing nothing, rather it is continuing to live life to the full and honouring God in the process. Certainly it is also about enjoying life, but it is not about parking oneself in front of the telly day in, day out, simply to fill in the gaps left from doing what matters most.

C. S. Lewis also recognised that retirement is not the end of the line when he wrote: You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream. As I enter into retirement I do so with fresh optimism, new goals to achieve and renewed interest in life and all that lies ahead.

Retirement – It’s a time to live, really live!

 

 

[1] J. I. Packer, Finishing Our Course With Joy. Wheaton: Crossway, 2014.

The last post … for 2016

2016 brought with it many enjoyable experiences mostly related to my role of Senior Social Worker in Outback Queensland, a position I held since June 2014. In that position I was based in Charleville and provided an outreach service to Morven, Augathella and Quilpie, my favourite town in the South West.

As a generalist practitioner I worked with people of all ages, all having to address diverse needs and issues. Together they represented the complexity of life in the Outback and the challenges with which people are consistently confronted. As with much of my Social Work practice over the years the most I could offer was my presence, simply being with people and providing a safe place for them to work through their unique circumstances. To have been part of their lives has been a privilege. To see people gain some sense of equilibrium as they dealt with their challenges, often growing through their troubling times was satisfying.

All of that has now come to an end, at least in the role of Social Worker. Late November I retired from Queensland Health, seven years after my first attempt at retirement. This time I was more than ready to move away from fulltime employment.

Now, as I come to the close of 2016, I do so with much gratitude to my Heavenly Father for all he has led me through over the past 12 months. I thank him for how he has been teaching me more about his unconditional love and acceptance of me – and of all people whether they know him or not – and for teaching me patience as I await the unfolding of his plans for me for the next phase of my life. I am encouraged by the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”   (Jeremiah 29:11).

And these words expressed by Toby Mac:

I heard your prayer – trust my timing.