You think I’m kidding, but I’ve never been more serious.
I WELCOME YOU to my MID-LIFE CRISIS because I’ve learned that ‘the more, the merrier’ is as practical as good counsel gets, and the one thing that my mid-life crisis has failed to produce is ‘merry’ of any kind.
‘Merry Christmas,’ we say.
‘Eat, drink and be merry,’ we say.
No one ever says, ‘You’re FORTY?! Well, Merry Mid-Life Crisis!’
Welcome back to Pink Shoes Ministries’ PINK Tuesday forum! Our topic for today is about as clear as crystal AND as clear as mud, which I’m sure you’ll relate to as you take a few minutes out of your busy day to read on.
My hope is that you’ll join me on the other end of this discussion, chiming in by way of comment, either here at wordpress OR on our facebook discussion board (see blogroll to the right).
Let’s get this party started by exposing one seriously foundational and ridiculous misunderstanding:
CHRISTIAN WOMEN DON’T FREAK OUT.
I totally disagree. Whoever decided that Christian women are somehow exempt from such delightful rites of passage as mid-life was never a forty-something wife / mother / daughter / daughter-in-law / employee / sister / friend. Your own particular brand of crisis is bound to vary from mine, but there are common mileposts along our journey’s path. How much we’re each affected by them probably depends on how fast we are traveling when that milepost flies by.
Crisis Milepost 1: PANIC
That’s right – we panic. Exact age at time of panic attack may vary, but most of us will at some point begin to panic upon the realization that we’re running out of TIME. The pressure we put on ourselves to make something of ourselves can create a fresh urgency to perform in ways we haven’t been compelled to act before.
I find myself asking the question: Have I been type-cast? Like an actor who always plays the same character type – only the location and situation seem to change – am I really stuck with who I’ve made myself to be? Is this all there is and ever will be for me, in my work? At home? In my relationships? Will my contributions to the world never exceed what I’ve given to the world thus far? What’s a forty-something girl to DO?
Get a tattoo?
On our twentieth wedding anniversary, I not-so-jokingly suggested to my husband that we ought to get matching tattoos. That, or join the Navy. He was much more open to the tattoo idea, but fortunately I never had to test him on that (some of you, my good friends, talked me out of it). Still, every time we drive past a tattoo parlor, he asks me if I’m ready yet and we share a good laugh. (Truth be told, though, honey – we’re not out of the woods yet!)
“Now I’m glad – not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss. Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.”
What we do with our mid-life panic attacks paves the way for the second half of life, to follow God’s clearly marked path OR to ease on down the wide road in the opposite direction. If we will invite God Himself into our worry over the gap between our life-expectations and our present reality, He will move us into the way of salvation. It may require a sharp turn here and there, but God is faithful to use our distress to draw us closer to Him. Paul is so sure of this that he concludes his thoughts in 2 Cor. 7 with these words:
“And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart.”
May our personal PANIC produce PURITY like that!
Crisis Milepost 2: STUCK
Remember the game ‘Statues’ that we played when we were kids? Someone would swing us by the arm in circles until we were terrifically dizzy, then they would let go and we were to ‘fall’ into a pose and hold it – like a statue. I recall holding the pose for painfully long periods of time, waiting for my playmates to guess what kind of statue I was.
Some of us are asking: Is this ALL there IS? This ‘pose’ I’m stuck in? And the weird thing about being stuck in mid-life is that even when life is GOOD, there’s this bleak gloom hanging overhead that tells us this is as good as it will ever get. I’ve known this party-pooper to present itself as depression or disappointment, grieving a future that for some reason we believe is gone. Because we’re knee-deep in the muck and we don’t see any way out. Because that’s exactly where the enemy wants us to be.
God, on the other hand, knows that we tend to buy into the lie that OUR goals and agendas are the only ones worth living and dying for. When our life’s mission is all about achieving our purposes, chances are we’re going to be disappointed. The goals we set for ourselves, independent of God, are very unlikely to be reached.
When we’re attuned to the work of the Spirit in our lives, however, the goals and agendas that we find ourselves attending to are tailor-made to fit the Kingdom-subjects we are becoming!
“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Cor. 9:8
Stuck sounds like the opposite of abounding to me. God is ABLE, even when I am not. No matter how I feel about it. That’s GOOD NEWS!
Next week we’ll dive deeper into the depths of my own mid-life crisis (you’ll need scuba gear next week, I’m afraid). In the meantime…
How do YOU deal with the panic and stress that mid-life creates? What good counsel can you give – or have you received – that helps you make your way through life in spite of depression and disappointment?
Please SHARE your wisdom and questions with me! You are, after all, WELCOME here – in my mid-life crisis!