What Is Retirement and What Does It Really Look Like?

By on January 11, 2014

By Rhonda Caudell −

I have experienced many seasons and stages of life so far. Funny how as I entered each one, I began to ponder and conclude: “This will be some of the hardest years of my life, but also some of the most enjoyable as well.”

Beginning with college, I wandered “can I be happy living away from home, really?” It sounds good to be on my own…but also a little scary. Can I succeed in college and actually graduate with a degree that is suppose to allow me to get a job and earn a living; even more scary thoughts continued.

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Later came marriage and a baby carriage, just like the song. I did graduate…I did get a job, a husband, and a baby.  And yes, a husband, managing my home, a new baby, and a career were very challenging. Finding a balance with priorities, my spiritual life, my time, trying to stay updated and learn new things, my friends and family, all in addition to a husband, child, home, Oh MY! But among the struggles came much joy as well.

Finally, though I suspected, but also sadly, my son leaves home and goes to college. I realize more than likely, never to return to our little nest. But wait; didn’t I just graduate from college myself just a few short years ago?! Who is this “old” man I am living with?

Enter “Empty Nest Years, Pre-retirement”… I begin to look around and observe others in this stage of life. Unfortunately, what I saw was not very attractive, not a life I wanted to be in. Many married couples were” splitting up”, “giving each other space”, “divorcing” for many different reasons. Or some were still together in the same empty nest house, but their time and individual lives were spent apart, doing totally separate things.

I knew, like many times in previous years, I was going to need some major help, some divine intervention. I didn’t have a clue how to continue living in this stage and beyond without some good examples or patterns to follow. Where were the mid-life couples who were doing life well, who had contentment, joy, peace, vibrancy…ones who explored new ventures, remained current,  were people-centered not self-absorbed, who  were attractive to each other and attracted others to them? Honestly I couldn’t find these people, so I prayed and asked God to make me one of those people. I was convinced that was how he wanted me to live out my final life chapter, no matter how long or brief it would be.

Well God did what God always does, he answered my prayer.  I will skip forward several more years and tell you what I have learned about retirement. To clarify, I am not “retired”, but my intent of this article is to share what God has showed me about the subject.

These statistics alone reflect that many people are of the retirement age and are living throughout the US.

“The population age 65 and older has increased notably over time.”  “It is expected to increase more rapidly over the next decade as more baby boomers started turning 65 in 2011.”

“According to a new Census Bureau report, there were 40.3 million people age 65 and older on April 1, 2010, up 5.3 percent from 35 million in 2000.”

“All regions of the country have seen growth in their 65-and-older populations since the 2000 Census. The older population is growing most rapidly in the West, where the number of senior citizens increased 23.5 percent, from 6.9 million in 2000 to 8.5 million in 2010. The Northeast is home to the largest percentage of people 65 years and older (14.1 percent), followed by the Midwest (13.5 percent), the South (13.0 percent), and the West (11.9 percent).”

So what are they doing? What do their lives look like? Are they really content, vibrant, have attractive lives, people centered?

The Bible is our handbook for life…many life issues, death issues, and other questions are answered in the Bible. Some may not realize the word “retirement” is not in the Bible, thus it is not a biblical concept. The Bible does speak of transition, but it does not say you work much of your life then you get to stop and think of yourself and do much of nothing for possibly 20+ more years except think of yourself.

Rick Warren, author of “A Purpose Driven Life” said “The Bible says that as long as your heart is beating God has a plan and a purpose for your life….to grow personally, to get to know God, to serve others, and make the world a better place.”

Rick Warren offers:

“In retirement, what we have to ask is ‘What’s going to be the center of my life?’  Because, if you don’t have a solid center, it’s going to fall apart. Then ask ‘Who are going to be my life companions; who will be my associates, my circle of influence; what is going to be the character of my life; how am I going to keep growing?  How can I give back to the world or make the world a better place in my final years?’ Focus on your ministry and your mission.”

We are all created in the image of God, and are all unique at the same time. God does have a purpose and plan unique to each of us for now, and for eternity. But He also gives us choices and allows circumstances to play out based on our own choices. I encourage you to ask these questions above, pray for divine help to figure out the best answers, choose wisely, and live out your next stage with purpose. Be someone like I was searching for, and many others are looking for now, to help them find their purpose and meaning in this life stage. You will discover much joy, peace, content, and rewards!

About Rhonda Caudell

Rhonda Caudell founded Endless Legacy after years of family care giving and serving families as a nurse geriatric care manager. Her life journey brought her to her passion of improving family relationships and communication through elderly parent care coaching. Showing families how to create a long term care process and plan that their kids and the generations to come will want to repeat is her expertise. She works with families throughout the United States. You can reach her at http://www.EndlessLegacy.com or [email protected]

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What Is Retirement and What Does It Really Look Like?