Let’s not sugar-coat it. Life is hard. Like, I had no idea how many really hard moments there would be. It always seems like life will be a little easier if [insert solution]. . . Or life will be a little easier when [insert next stage of life]. . .
I have been thinking a lot lately about the stages of life. I was told growing up that I would always anticipate each new milestone in life and that no one “stage” would fully satisfy. You don’t believe that as a kid though, right? I mean getting married seemed like the best thing ever! To find your prince and allow him to take you off into the sunset on a white horse?
(Thank you, Disney.)
I distinctly remember sitting in my room one day, extremely frustrated at how long it seemed to be taking to grow up. I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember thinking how wonderful it would be to be all grown up and married and to be able to make my own decisions! I was so sick of being told what to do and when to do it. Why was life taking so long? That moment is ingrained in my mind.
Life takes forever!
Well…. that’s what I thought as a pre-teen. Boy, was I wrong, right?!
Whenever we reach a new “stage” in life, we have very strong opinions about the previous stage we have just left. We also can tend to exaggerate the joys and the pains of those stages. We see the past through those rose-colored glasses that everyone talks about.
But, we forget.
We forget what it was really like to be a teenager. To be a college student. To be a newlywed. . . So we tend to say things that may come across negative to someone in a particular avenue of life.
For example. Pregnancy. When I hear a first-time pregnant woman complain about lack of sleep, I do tend to think. . .
Oh honey. . . Sleep deprivation after baby is like the worst ever. Enjoy your naps! Enjoy your evenings! Enjoy your husband (in every possible way)!
The problem is that sometimes we SAY these things out loud! How discouraging is that?! One of my Facebook friends asked for prayer when she was pregnant because she was having a hard time sleeping at night. I was right in the battle-zone at the time of the repeated nightly feedings, the total sleep-deprivation that sucks your soul AND your mind. So, I *might* have had a negative response in my head. But something she said really struck me. She said something like “I don’t need anyone to tell me how much worse my sleep will be after my baby gets here. I need grace for now. I will ask for grace for later when I need it.”
I’m sure you have been told a few times, “Just you wait. . .” And while there might be truth in that, it doesn’t take away the trials we are experiencing now. I think we need to meet each other where we are at. Try to remember what it was like to be newly married. Let’s try not to be discouraging by telling a newlywed how much worse it’s going to get when they have kids. Let’s try not to tell a new mom how good she has it is because she doesn’t have to deal with discipline yet. Or a mom of toddlers how easy her life should be because her kids aren’t teens yet. Or under-handedly tell a mom with one child how much harder her life will be when she has more than one. I want to remember what it was like to be in *this* stage and show grace for a mom when she enters it.
Yes, it could always be worse. But. Again. That doesn’t take away the difficulties we are facing now.
And there is grace.
And remember that sometimes our memories of a previous stage are exaggerated. Yes, I had a lot more freedom when I was not a mom. And sometimes I do think fondly on a life lived for myself and for my husband. But, I forget how desperately I wanted a child. How I tried and then miscarried and then tried again. How I was trying so hard to learn how to serve my husband despite my independent personality. How my marriage was almost an idol to me and working on it was all I thought about. My expectations were unrealistic and it affected my marriage in a negative way. That was hard!
Remember what it was like to be in college? I have precious memories of college. And while I tell students to enjoy every moment, I am reminded of the difficulty of relationships, of grades, of graduating without a job and without a clue. . .
On the flip side though. . . I do think it’s important to find the joy in the stage we are in now. There is so much good along with the ugly.
Teenager, enjoy being cared for. Enjoy learning. Enjoy care-free evenings with friends.
College student, enjoy learning how to be independent. Enjoy becoming really good at something that will turn into your career. Enjoy care-free evenings with friends.
Newly married couple, enjoy being able to give of your time to each other and each other only. Enjoy evenings spent cuddling together. Enjoy full nights of sleep. 🙂 Enjoy being able to pick up and go wherever whenever.
New mom, enjoy your sweet baby cuddles. Forget about the mess. Enjoy these precious moments because before we know it, our babies will be off to school!
You get the picture.
Let’s vow to end the negativity. No more passive aggressive comments to other women in a stage of life that, let’s face it, we probably envy. Let’s help each other find joy in our current circumstances while also understanding the difficulties that our friends may be encountering. There is grace for them and their is grace for us.
And anyway. . . the next stage will be here all. too. soon.