Over the last few weeks, I have shared with several folks (both friends and family) that I have entered, and am fully embracing what I call my midlife crisis. Now, before you panic, I haven’t bought a sports car (my Subaru is just fine), my marriage is fine (any woman who has put up with me for 20+ years is a keeper for life), and I have no plans to quit my job and join the circus (though it is sometimes tempting).
Before I go any further, let me explain some terms that might be helpful. Bear with my nerdiness, if you will.
- Midlife – In just four short weeks, I will celebrate my 46th birthday. If I plan to live to the ripe old age of 92, which would be pleasantly surprising, but not out of the question, given my family history, that places me smack dab in the middle of this life I’ve been given. On top of that, I recently reflected that I’ve been engaged in full-time ministry for twenty-two years, which would place me halfway to a projected retirement age of 66. In addition, our son just turned 11. If he strikes out fully on his own after college graduation at 22, Barb and I have completed half of our time with a young one in the nest (fingers crossed!). All of that is to say, I couldn’t be more midlife if I tried right now.
- Crisis – We often define the word crisis in the negative – with synonyms like emergency, disaster or catastrophe. However, crisis can also simply point to a time when important decisions must be made. With this definition, we think of a crisis as more of a crossroads or turning point. That’s how I’m looking at this season – a time during which I have to make some important decisions about the second half of my life, and how, by God’s grace, I hope to live it.
In too offhanded a way, I have said that the two parts of my midlife crisis are 1) getting healthy (in all the ways that can mean) and 2) saying what I need to say, regardless of whether or not others may like it. But, as God often does, He has been using conversations with trusted confidantes, sermons and podcasts I’m listening to (including one actually titled, “Preparing for a Midlife Crisis” for heaven’s sake!), and my own reflection times to graciously shape some of those critical decisions I’m making about where I go from here.
Over the next few weeks, I want to unpack for myself (and if it’s helpful, for you) five critical decisions that I feel called to make for this next season.
- Trust – Confront fear with courage
- Invest – Make intentional time and space for my most important relationships
- Speak – Find and use my unique voice
- Love – Become love
- Risk – Live without regrets
If I was inclined to get a tattoo – which will not happen because of my dislike for pain – I might tattoo those five words somewhere prominent on my person. Instead, I’ll just write about them, and hopefully the writing will turn into the doing, which will lead to the living. But I promise you, it won’t look anything like this.