When I first entered into full-time retirement, I wondered what God was going to do with me. Being on staff at the nursing home enabled me to interact with the same people day after day; I could build friendships and trust with them and share the message of the gospel. I was needed, and I felt useful. But after those interactions ceased, I felt disconnected.
Trusting that God could still find something valuable for me to do, I focused on enjoying the freedom of spending more time with my husband, going to Bible study, and working on my writing. I still missed the nursing-home staff and residents; I especially missed being able to have deep conversations with them about God and the difficulties of life. But I also knew that if God could use Balaam’s donkey (see Num. 22:21-41) and the crowing rooster (see Matt. 26:69-75), God could still use me.
As I worked on being able to sleep past four a.m. in my retirement, I also continued studying the word and putting my thoughts down on paper. I had submitted a few writings for publication while still working, but now I was able to do so more often. Par for the course, along with my acceptance letters, I also received a good share of rejection notices. From what I’d read in scripture, I believed that God was using those notices to grow and strengthen me, but little did I realize that God was also going to use them to help me feel needed and connected again.
Since not having to work weekends allowed me to attend church more often, I began to participate in a Sunday morning prayer group. During that time, I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit leading me to pray specifically for one young person in our congregation. Because this young person was in a wheelchair, the petitions made for them were typically about healing. However, I was led to pray that the work which God had begun in them would be rekindled. And after several weeks of praying in that manner, I was prompted to talk to them one Sunday and explain what I felt God had been asking me to do.
To my surprise, the work God had begun in that person was to have a love for words and a desire to write. But because they were afraid of . . . yes, that’s right — rejection . . . they had never been bold enough to really pursue what God was calling them to do.
I was truly elated that I could explain that rejection notices are just part of learning and are meant to encourage and not discourage. Suddenly, I realized how resourceful God truly was. God had planted a desire in this young person’s heart, and when that desire was dampened by fear, God showed great love by bringing me (rejection notices and all) to help dispel that shroud of anxiety. I was still needed, still useful, and I didn’t have to get up at four a.m. anymore to be connected to others!
Since I’m not sure where my retirement journey is going to take me next, I continue to enjoy the luxury of spending time in the word. I continue to try to write constructively and am learning to redirect my prayers toward my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord.