The following is a transcript of a Raised Catholic Podcast episode. To listen to the episode, click here.
Today is episode 93: Faith on a Threshold
Hi friends. This week I have been anticipating, teetering, and crossing over a pretty significant threshold; the kind that, when you do step over, it changes everything. And, friend, I hate this kind. The time leading up to it, as you prepare and anticipate and count the dwindling days and then hours. The bittersweet memories that flood in. The gathering up of strength from a depleted reserve, again and again, the strength you know you will need to finally step over that threshold and see what’s on the other side. Most of us, if we’ve lived a bit of time, have crossed over many of our thresholds kind of oblivious and unaware and we only see the significance of them as we look back. We’ll note the friendship that slowly fell away or the skill that we gained over time; the lesson we learned that shifted our reality in some way that we can only see in hindsight. But today I’d like to talk about the ones we know are coming, the ones we mark, even the ones we fear. Where is God as we cross a threshold like this?
I’ll say in advance, friend, that today I am a little tender. Pastor, author, and speaker Nadia Bolz-Weber warns that it’s best to write or speak from your scars rather than from your wounds. And that simply means that we should let a little time go by to let wisdom rise to surface out of a hard experience before sharing it. But in this case, I’m processing a pretty critical threshold in real time, and this kind of raw, authentic, in-the-moment-experience is what crossing a threshold is all about. So, thanks for your patience with me today, friend.
This week my youngest child moved out. Not to school or camp or out for a semester, no more winter break or summer homecomings, but out, out. She and her older brother are doing great, living with their amazing partners that we love, in good places with good jobs and there is so much to celebrate, thanks be to God. But for me, it is an end to the almost 25-year long chapter of kids under my roof. And I knew that when the youngest moved out, that chapter which really felt like the whole book if I’m honest, would close.
Anticipating this delineation was hard. I am an INFJ, enneagram 4, first-class noticer and memory-keeper. I make notes and I take a thousand pictures a day, on my phone and in my brain, too, of things I want to be sure I remember. I have been known to swim in melancholy from time to time, and nostalgia is my love language. You might say I have been training for, and dreading, this week for my entire life. I hate when things end.
What a journey motherhood is. No one can explain to you at the start the weight and meaning of it, the ways in which it will teach and challenge you, the pain and the delight, the many ways in which it will shape and surprise and change you over time. Each chapter of my journey of motherhood, from infertility to preschool to little league, navigating friend groups, school, sports, clubs, college and more has been a step-by-step master class for me in letting go.
Each time I’ve anticipated an end, whether it be elementary school or Irish step dance or cross country, it was really the start of something new. That’s true, and also, this is how God works, right, winter turning to spring, death to new life. When we open our hands to let something go, God does fill them and thanks be to Him, I have seen that happen over and over again. There is a sweetness to life with my adult children who I not only love but like, not only affirm but admire. They are awesome people, and their people are wonderful, too, and spending time with them in the joyful way we do now is not something I could have anticipated when they were placed in my arms as infants. Everything changes and that is good. That’s what we want.
But on the threshold, with one foot in and one foot out, we can feel stretched. There’s a strain there and an ache in those hands and heart that we struggle to keep open when all we want is to hold on. There’s a time of real mourning there and this needs to be respected and attended to. As we cross a threshold, it’s natural to want to gather it all in, to take stock, to look back through the door as I look into my both of my children’s rooms now, still, with wonder at how fast it all went and how it all unfolded.
But as we do that, maybe there’s a glimmer of light that we can walk toward, even if we don’t yet know what it is.
I don’t have wisdom to offer you from my place on the threshold today, friend. I don’t know what life will look like from here, or where to step, or what to do except to keep going, open as I can, to what is ahead and the good things that God has for me. I can do that because when things have shifted in the past, I have survived one hundred percent of those things. And when I desperately wanted to cling to a reality that I finally had to let go, so often, things ended up better than I thought in a way that I could not have orchestrated on my own. So, I know now from experience that God has us, that God has me.
You and I inhabit so many roles as we walk out this life. Daughter, sister, student, friend. Relational and vocational roles that grow and shift over time. But as it says in the Book of Jeremiah, before we were even formed in our mother’s womb, God knew us and made a plan for us. That means that every threshold we cross in this life has been planned for, too.
A couple of days after my daughter moved, I was on a teary walk with God, and he brought to my mind the allegory of life as a stage. We were designed by God to engage, interact with, learn from, and take care of each other, but when it comes to the story of my life’s journey from a spiritual lens, it is mine alone. God made my stage and He put me on it, so this is my show. The seats and the wings are filled with friends and saints who cheer and give me much needed direction and help when I need it, which is often. The scenery will shift behind me, and it has, and it does. Players will appear with me on the stage, and then take their exits, maybe re-appearing in another act or maybe not, but there is no scene in my show that is fixed. No repeated dialogue or plot because that is just not how a story moves along and at the end of the day, I want mine to move. I want to progress and go somewhere, and I want good reviews, too. The lights are ever on me as I stand here and try to hit my mark, walking over this threshold that seems too high, too hard. As I go, I may trip, if I’m honest. When that happens, I’ll get up. I’ll take the hand of God who helps me as I cross over as He always has before. And even if I’m a little shaky, as I am as I talk to you today, I will find the song that is mine alone to sing and I’ll do my best to sing it, one note at a time.
Thanks so much for listening today, friend. if you need me, you can find me on Instagram @kerrycampbellwrites or on my blog at mylittleepiphanies.com. Thanks so much for rating, reviewing, subscribing and most importantly, sharing this podcast with a friend. That really makes a difference in growing our community, so thanks. If you’d like to support this podcast financially, there’s a way for you to do that in the show notes, along with lots of resources related to today’s episode, so do check all of that out, but before we go, let’s pray together.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.
God, as it says in the Book of Isaiah, you are doing something new. Help us to perceive it, as you make a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, always walking both with us and a little bit ahead. You make our stage, and you place us on it, so aim your light so we know where to step. Take our hand and steady us as we go. Help us to hear the cheers from the wings and to step out and sing our song the very best we can, in this short time that we’re given. And oh God, please bless our dear ones too, on their stages. Mary, please be a mother to them. Thank you, God, that you have them, and that you have us, too. In Jesus’s name we pray, amen.
Well thanks again for listening, and I’ll see you next time.
This week we explore what faith looks like in the midst of a big personal shift. Stepping over a threshold from ‘what was’ to ‘what will be’ can be exciting and scary and it’s good to know that we are not stepping alone.
If you’d like to connect with me, find me on Instagram or on my blog. If you’d like to help support this podcast financially, there’s now a way to do just that, and thank you – visit me on my page at buymeacoffee.com! Thanks as always for sharing, subscribing, rating, and reviewing, as this helps our community to grow!
Here are some resources I hope will help you to engage with this week’s topic in a deeper way for yourself:
1. Instagram follow: Pamela Henkelman, Midlife Mindset Coach
2. Life allegory: Muppet Movie: Closing Scene
3. Bible verse: Jeremiah 1:5
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
4. Bible verse Isaiah 43:19
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
5. Raised Catholic ep. 14: What’s Your Story?
6. A Blessing for When Love Makes Us Afraid, by Kate Bowler
7. Podcast: Parenting from an Empty Nest, with Kelly Corrigan and Susan Orlean
8. Song: My Beloved, by Crowder
9. A piece of my writing from 2017 – Trust – an allegory of life as a house, the trust needed to walk through doors when you don’t know what’s on the other side