Have you had thoughts that you were destined for clouds of gray? If so, you are not alone. The disappointments that naturally come with life change can easily cast what seems like a never-ending night season across the soul. But, let me share something that might both shock and surprise you: You are actually standing on the cusp of a very exciting time! Daybreak is on the horizon, and a soft shade of pink is waiting to set your heart aglow. The best way I can describe this transition is to call it the season of exceptional bloom, which is why I chose that for the title of this book. I love these words because they capture the essence of how your life is about to open up into a unique and beautiful season that is far from ordinary in any sense of the word.
To grasp the magnitude of this special era, we must cast a vision of what it means. Imagine for a moment coming upon the most glorious of times, when the purposes of your past merge with God’s specific plan for your future. Mind you, I am not suggesting a replication of your former days but rather your history becoming the springboard for something entirely different and new.
Let me give you an example. I live in South Florida, where the typical home has three items that qualify it as tropical: green grass, a palm tree, and a swimming pool. But not ours—our house is quite the anomaly. Fifty years ago, the original owners had coral rock imported to create sweeping waterfalls that encompassed the entire length of the backyard. I’m sure it was very enchanting when newly built, but by the time the house came across our path, it was a different story. Broken down and overrun with weeds, the house was an eyesore to the entire neighborhood.
We found this house when we were looking into buying foreclosures. Our children were grown, so my husband and I had decided to buy a small home and make it just the way we wanted it. It was obvious that the original plan for this home must have been a creative venture at one point, so, being intrigued with its original design, we bought it. We were excited about our freedom to turn it into something new and fantastic, and perhaps even add a little “Florida” to it.
For instance, we replaced the original terrazzo flooring with coastal wood to give it a feeling of warmth. We knocked out one of the kitchen walls to give the room a more spacious feel. We replaced all of the windows and sliders with double-paned hurricane-impact glass. A rickety old house began its journey of becoming rejuvenated, new, and in many ways better and stronger than ever. We didn’t replicate history; we used the house as a springboard for something new.
For women over the age of fifty, casting the vision for our exceptional bloom is just as important, but it does not come so easily. It takes effort because we feel drained from transition. Projecting all its possibilities can be difficult if its arrival catches us by surprise. To top it all off, many times we are not even sure who we are at this stage of life, and an identity crisis sets in. We become discouraged instead of delighted. In fact, we can even feel immobilized by it. So there it sits—the exceptional blooming season of our life—unopened like a large gift package in the corner, and we are perplexed at what to do with it.
We need to know that this time of life does not catch God by surprise. He has foreseen this season and already has it in mind. Psalms 139:13-16 reminds us of this.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Notice the scripture says that all of our days were written long ago—before even one of them came to be—and God already has seen them. We might have thought the prime of our lives was a time now past, like our youth. But God sees our prime as something entirely different. He is interested in the whole picture—the all of our lives. The second half of our lives yields new opportunities that were not available in the first half. In other words, we see our days in terms of what we perceive as our prime, but God sees our days as being unlimited; he sees that we are free to venture beyond our perceived limitations.
This time in our lives is a new territory that is beyond the boundaries of what we are familiar with, yet it is not outside the boundaries of God’s plans for us. We may have come to this place wondering if we were at the end, but the reality is that we are at the beginning of a season that is quite unique. Up until this point, life may have consumed us. Now we are at the turning point of being a consumer of a different kind of life altogether.
Here’s what I mean. When we are young, we are driven by our dreams of what life should be. We put a lot of effort toward achieving those expectations. Yet, now, as we look at our lives circumspectly, we realize that even though God has used those aspirations to mold us into the women we’ve become, he never intended for us to be defined by our hopes and dreams. In fact, now that we are released from their obligations of eminence, we are free to look at life from new perspectives.
My life has taken on a new view from this one change in perspective. The season of the exceptional bloom yields a great exploration into many of these types of changes that are freeing and new. We are no longer bound to the old, limited prime of certain ideas. We are free to move forward and abound.
You see, we are not the same people we were in our younger days. Those years were simply a part of shaping who we are in this season of blooming. As we dig deeper into what those things look like, we will find ourselves on a journey of intense transformation. We need to know it’s not only okay to travel to this place in the heart, but that God has been expecting us to make the journey. He will not leave us to bump around in the dark, but will lead us every step of the way into in-depth discoveries we may never have realized were possible when we were younger.
In light of this truth, life after fifty is certainly an exceptional time to bloom. Dare I even say that it’s a prime time to discover to an even greater degree who we really are and all that we can be. As unique individuals, we have new paths to tread with many great freedoms that come at this stage. For instance, now we can think about things we never may have thought about before, such as letting go of the expectations of others and releasing obligations to which we can now say no, and embracing new opportunities to which we can now say yes.
The great paradigm shift that happens in this new season brings a sweeping sense of liberation that replaces our former constraints and pressures. We become unchained in our hearts and are free to discover life in a fresh, new way.
Excerpt from Exceptional Bloom: Coming Alive After Fifty
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