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Tindell Baldwin »

Middle Aged Faith

“I am right in the center of God’s will so I have complete peace” my grandmother told me this morning. Her and my grandfather are moving from the top of tiger mountain to a 55 plus community. It will be the first time they have lived farther than 20 min from the lake. It will be the first time she can see her neighbors in 30 years. It will be the first time they have not had a view of the mountains in probably 60 years. The rest of us mourn, we feel the end of an era coming. We have been privileged enough to visit my grandparents since I was a child. The North Georgia Mountains feel as much a part of my childhood as my own childhood home. I can drive those roads and pull from a catalog of memories and songs. In two weeks though, the door is closing for them and for us. It’s strange how sentimental you can feel about a place, how it can feel woven into your being. It was where I got married, where I learned to enjoy the beauty of nature, it was where I felt the most peace. 

I am in awe of her faith. I want to have the same mindset. My mimi has always been a spiritual giant to me, not because of any accomplishment but because of how she has always lived. She has never done faith for show but modeled it in the most intentional and inspiring way. She has always been behind the scenes making cobbler and making a way for her grandkids to have incredible memories at her lake house. I believe her when she says she prays for me. I trust her when she tells me that she knows God is leading this move. I can picture my grandmother linking arms with Jesus as she walks because that is always how she has lived. 

I thought faith like this would happen over time. I thought you’d just get to a point where you were mature, kind of like reaching your final height. Yet here I am waking up every day and remembering my dads saying that as you get older it becomes harder not to just grow cynical. My faith has not grown instead it has taken a massive hit. I have struggled not only to say “it is well” but to ask anything of God. I have watched the lives of people I love crumble, I have lost hope that anything good can come after two years of a really trying season. How I wish I was like my grandmother, able to look at life with all its messiness and proclaim real honest faith, hope, and love. 

I am in the middle though, the middle of raising babies, the middle of life disappointments, the middle of wondering what is next in my “career”. I am in the middle of aging and worries and wonderings if I am missing the things that really matter. I am in the middle of life. I am learning that my faith is not grown by the passing of time but by continuing to stay in the battle. I am learning that giving up my will for the betterment of others is never something that becomes easy (or at least not for someone like me). I am learning that Jesus was not joking when he said, “in this world you will have troubles but TAKE HEART for I have overcome the world.” I am slowly removing one finger at a time of the tight grasp I have on my life and my dreams. I don’t know if it will get easier or if the trials are just Gods way to accelerate my letting go. I don’t know if I will ever be as inspiring as my grandmother, content to trust not in what’s next but in who she believes is leading her. 

I know I want to be that way though. I want my kids to smile when I call and not role their eyes at the list of complaints they may get from me. I want my home to remain an open door to whatever family, friends, and neighbors may come in. I want my stuff to be secondary to my relationships. I want my faith to be something I live not something I talk about. I want to still be laughing with Ben at 85 with the same love we had at 25. I want to fight for the things that matter and not get swept up in the things that don’t. Thats the real challenge though, the important almost never feels urgent. We make a list of things we won’t be without deciding who we actually will be. We get no guarantees on what lays ahead of us, my grandmothers life has not been all roses and sunshine, but we do get to decide how we will handle the hard things. 

Recently my dad and I spoke to a support group of parents with prodigal children. I asked him how he never parented out of fear when I was in the middle of raising literal hell. He said easy, I just believed God’s plan would work. He learned from the best. 

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