Reading Life Differently: Reflections on Retirement

by Hilary Horn

By Sue Duby

“So what are you doing now?”… hmmm…letting it unfold.  “So what’s the plan?” Hmmm…waiting on Him and paying attention.   “So what does it feel like? Look like?” Hmm. . . that’s one to ponder further!

2 months ago, my husband and I crossed the line into the big “R” season… retirement.  After 30 years in full time missions, we find ourselves poised, ready, wondering and adjusting our life lenses.   A bit clueless how to walk forward, yet grabbing hold of hope that “R” stands for repurposing, revisioning, re-energizing and redirecting.

We grieved concluding a long season of wonder with Mercy Ships and Hope Force International.   Sailing into Africa for the first time with the overwhelming sights, smells and sounds, only to leave our hearts behind with it’s people.  Working as family with multiple nations and denominations and knowing Jesus would smile. Discovering pastoral hearts in caring for staff and crew.  Standing speechless surveying a tornado ravaged neighborhood and realizing “just listening” to survivors powerfully speaks love. Still, God’s trail of indicators pointed to one truth…”It’s time to close the chapter”.

As in any big life moment. . . high school graduation, first job, a wedding, first child… one’s imagination scripts multiple scenarios.  Most never unfold and the new reality brings just that… the NEW! And new requires reading life differently.

In our fresh journey, we’ve already discovered some foundational precepts to guide us along the way.   In a great sense, this life change has almost forced us to read life differently, and though a sometimes-bumpy process, we wouldn’t trade the “old” for the richness unfolding.   So far, these are some non-negotiables that are becoming signpost reminders along the way:

Be honest.    I’m daily trying to put words to my feelings in this adventure.  Without that exercise, I find I squirm through my days with confused irritation.    For me, entering this new season is like

– Putting on a brand new outfit with fresh style, itchy fabric and a funny fit

– Sneaking out of school in the middle of the day to camp at a favorite coffee shop… sipping away with a vague fog of guilt

– Hiking on a twisting path, noticing beauty along the way, but struggling to see around the corner

Remember.   Chuck and I now have a weekly coffee date to reflect.  Flipping through years of “Duby Dateline” newsletters, we’re smiling and sighing together at the incredible adventures we’ve shared.   Lessons, passions and principles to grab, record and set the next course. Fresh understanding of how God made us, what He’s packed inside and what “lights our fires”.

Pay attention.   It’s almost as if God leaves tiny clues, whispers bits of vision, deposits words in my mind and people in my path… if I am paying attention each day.  Knowing I’m often distracted, He is faithful and gentle to repeat the nudges!

After moaning to Chuck one morning about my empty calendar, I realized the previous week had filled with multiple phone calls, coffee dates and emails with younger and older friends.  I turned to him and said, “Hmm, I think it might have something to do with women”. He just smiled.

Be bold.   God nudges, but I still must grab hold of courage and take steps.   With a brain bent on equation solving and puzzles, I’ve strangely felt words ready to bubble forth.  My calendar now boasts a Tuesday date with my laptop, “just to write”. No agenda, no goal, no serious editing.  Just write. I love crafts and flowers. Discovering a free online lesson in water color roses , I ran to buy supplies, tucked a table in the corner and voila…a mini art studio!  I’m not sure what will “stick” for the long haul, but it feels delightful (and let’s be honest…. scary too) to try the new.

Allow life to be different.  Don’t hold too tightly to the old form.  Dare to dream. Dare to try. Listen to the whispers.  Trust He will show you what He sees and in that, His steps will unfold.

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Corrine Lund June 20, 2019 - 4:22 am

You will discover so many new gifts and directions and blessings in retirement! We have been retired over ten years and our lives are more blessed than ever. Your journey continues.

Jody H Wallem June 21, 2019 - 8:21 am

Sue, I’ve always felt you had a gift for writing, and I love your openness to try new things–your watercolor roses are sweet! Keep meeting with those ladies, young and old, and using your gifst of listening and reflecting.

Fay Walker June 22, 2019 - 3:21 pm

Hi Sue and Chuck from NZ. Your discription of R word excellent. Wish I’d known that a few years ago as we muddled through or rather still are. Yes, missions and the priveledges it hold will forever remain with us and each morning we thank God for those years. Its now 14 years since we came hm and mission hasn’t stopped but changed direction. Living in a retirement village brings many opportunities. We r both well at present family all living overseas now, we came home for them to look after us and they took off?. Amazing how many times we get together and with Brett’s new ship in our Port both he and Karen visit often. Keep up your continued journey re Retirement it’s very insightful. Much love and many blessings to you both Fay and Trevor xx

Oleta Rose Walker June 24, 2019 - 10:50 am

I was so blessed to being a part of Mercy Ships…you two have been very special to me and I’m
Grateful to have you as love to you both?

Marianne June 27, 2019 - 7:49 am

Loved reading the article as well as reading comments from some former missionaries colleagues.

jon August 5, 2019 - 6:42 am

Precious! THANK you Sue…we love you

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