"Time Makes You Bolder" {...and a few thoughts on midlife miscalculations...}

My name is Sheila Atchley, and I am the mother of prodigals.

I am often reminded of an old '70's song - a song that has spoken to me profoundly for almost ten years now. It isn't a "Christian" song. It is a life experience song. A raw and honest and vulnerable song. 

Forgive the drama, but if I have to hear it, I will cry. Sometimes, depending on what has happened that day or that week, I ugly-cry.  If I have control over the source of the song, I will always turn it off. If I do not have control over the source, I will stuff my index fingers in my ears, and sing, “LA LA LA LA LA”.

Like one does.

Because I fear ugly-crying, particularly when it involves hiccuping.

But even on a great day, like today, there are always tears in my eyes, at the very least, whenever I hear this song. I do not know the story behind the lyrics, but like all really good art (and UNlike Scripture), it lends itself to my own private interpretation:

Landslide

I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
'Til the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changin' ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Mmm

Well, I've been afraid of changin'
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I'm gettin' older, too

Well, I've been afraid of changin'
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I'm gettin' older, too
I'm gettin' older, too

Ah, take my love, take it down
Oh, climb a mountain and turn around
And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well, the landslide will bring it down
And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well, the landslide will bring it down
Oh, the landslide will bring it down

I've lived the Landslide. I’m still living it. There was a time, many years ago, when I might have seen my reflection in a snow-covered hill. My children were young and for the most part, I felt capable. I would have seen myself as strong, like a snow covered hill, I felt solid. I built my life around my children, educating them at home, imperfectly pouring calling and purpose and destiny into them at every opportunity.

I would never have consciously admitted it, but I thought their father and I could pay for the outcome we hoped for, with the currency of our own white-hot passion for Christ. The child in my heart wanted to believe in “happily ever after”, and that prodigals only happened to other people. Well. It's no secret. My sons took their spiritual inheritance and treated it as insignificant. 


Landslide.


My world really did crumble. It shouldn’t have, but it did. Because I had placed my well-being in something other than “In Christ Alone”.


It is a common midlife miscalculation. But as a result, a sudden riptide threatened my till-then firm footing. I doubted whether I could really handle the changing seasons of my life. I held tight to a mis-placed hope, while praying with everything I had that my sons would come to their senses in a month. Which became six months. Which became a year. But the winds of change were gale-force and unrelenting for about the space of three years, and I became so afraid.  I was afraid of the human condition called "failure".

One day...I simply let go. Open-palmed and falling forward, God's grace became the only hope I had. Losing myself in the ensuing landslide was a severe mercy, and a wonderful, bountiful dealing for my soul. 

I hope the day comes when, every time my sons hear the hymn "In Christ Alone", they think of the price Jesus paid for them, and lift up holy hands. I also hope they think of me and their dad and get misty-eyed...

...and I hope that every time my boys hear "Landslide" they think of just me. I hope they think of no one else. And I hope they worship God for His Great Love for them…and I really hope they do the ugly-cry.

My name is Sheila Atchley, and I am the mother of Prodigals.

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But that is not the end of my story. I simply am finding the courage to talk about it right here “in the middle”, as the story unfolds. I hope you will journey with me, because I do plan on throwing a grill-party one day. Fatted calves and wine will definitely be on the menu. Boys, I will have cold beer for both of you. My vegan friends, you can have grilled corn on the cob.