Retirement has been a time of experiencing dreams I never had before, including becoming a life coach. Another surprise for Bill and me has been hosting leader retreats in our home. But laughing our way through bi-annual “cousins’ vacations” with our seven grandchildren from North Carolina, Connecticut and Toronto tops it all.
And yet, getting here was not easy! Before I crossed into the retirement season, General Supervisor Tammy Dunahoo shared a valuable insight: “Friendships will look different. You will find out those you classified as friends become colleagues. Colleagues are there for a season, but friends will last beyond your transition.”
She was right. Retirement has losses and gains. When we retired, things were different. Our pastoral ministry, as we knew it, kept going without us. This happens to most of us entering retirement. And when pastors continue to live in the same town where they pastored, it’s not easy to find a congregation to call “home,” realizing new pastors also need their own growing room.
The year following our retirement, Bill and I attended Foursquare Connection. When we picked up our packets, a leader asked me: “Hey, Harriet. Good to see you! What are you doing here?” He said it with a laugh, but inside I felt a slight sting and thought, “Yeah, what am I doing here?” I don’t think I’m different than many retirees. I didn’t want a voice, I wanted fellowship—I’m a people person!
Retirement can also bring some anxiety. As we were leaving Amherst after 26 years of ministry, I was very emotional and cried a lot. When I visited our daughter in Toronto soon after, she said, “You need to see a counselor.”
So I did. The counselor said, “So, what’s wrong with crying?” I wanted her to give me an answer, and she gave me a question, which was my answer. There is nothing wrong with emotion when you are transitioning and saying goodbye to some lifelong friends.
Practically speaking, I would put the above into my “loss” list. Funny how losses often make way for the birthing of “gains.” Like me, you may want to seek out a counselor, coach or spiritual director to help guide you into this new season.
Isn’t it interesting that we often think a season is ending, when God is preparing another to begin? That’s what happened when Marion Ingegneri—founder of Essential Conferences for Women—asked me to mentor four young women leaders for a weekend. That became our first “Replenishing the Soul of a Leader” retreat. There is great joy in learning how to live life with soul-healthy simplicity.
My life coach, Lyn, encouraged me to write 10 retirement dreams, adding, “Make them God-dreams!” As a result, one month into retirement I launched my business, Life Perspectives Coaching.
In every season of life, it’s the incalculable riches of God’s consistent grace that keeps giving and giving.
Because our children lived at a distance, another dream was to live close by each of them for four to six weeks. We wanted to rent a home or apartment and be able to enjoy hockey and basketball games and dance recitals as we lived life together.
“What would make that a God-dream?” Lyn asked.
“The homes would be free,” I replied.
The following year we spent six weeks in Toronto at the home of a family on a ministry assignment in Africa. They invited us to care for their beautiful home during their absence. Yes, free!
The next year we came to Charlotte—where we now live—and stayed for free in a home overlooking Lake Norman while the owners were out of town for almost two months.
I doubt if time with our family would have happened this way had these God-dreams not been in the picture. What an entry into retirement! In every season of life, it’s the incalculable riches of God’s consistent grace that keeps giving and giving.
Bill and I believe that retirement is when the reality of making disciples becomes a lifetime calling, not a temporary appointment with a title. And we don’t have to wait until retirement is upon us to dream God-dreams!
Harriet Mouer has worn numerous hats in Foursquare life, including director of women’s ministries at The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, Calif. After her husband, Bill, retired as pastor of Amherst Foursquare Church in Amherst, Ohio, in 2009, she served as supervisor of the Mid-Atlantic District from 2009-2014. Freelance writer Ken Walker helped prepare this story.