Thursday, September 07, 2006

my mid-midlife crisis


I was completely unfamiliar with the concept of mid-midlife crises until I turned 25 and Mike asked me if I was experiencing such a phenomenon.

"There is no such thing!"

"Sure there is!"

"Did you have one?"

"Yup."

Well, I may not have bought marshmallow cream (a delicacy my mother never let me enjoy) and smothered it over a whole loaf of soft nutrient-free white bread but I have been wondering about the idea of mid-midlife crises a lot lately.

Research shows that society does not consider individuals to have reached adulthood till they reach 26 years of age. At some point around this age, I'm convinced individuals face a crisis of direction and purpose. They look back on the last part of their life and see how it measures up with their dreams or others' expectations of them. Some try desperately to hold onto their slipping adolescence with one last adventure only to realize afterwards that it's all frivolous and time to put away childish ways and embrace their adulthood. Some relocate in an attempt to "find themselves".

I did a combination of all the above.

I was a leaf caught in a whirl of wind flitting about in a dizzying string of adventures with no direction ... no purpose ... no companion. I was in love with my ideals and spun around in a brilliant array of color mystifying all ... laughing at their attempts to pluck me out of the air. I took a secret holiday to California. I played with the idea of becoming a diplomat traveling to exotic lands and overwhelming my senses with new sights, smells, and sounds. I freely shared my ideals influencing many young minds, challenging the norm, and waking them up to new possibilities.

But like all whirlwinds that fizzle out ... my wind died and I floated to the ground ... I had just returned to my parent's home from living in Prague and I was asked this question:

"What will you do now?"

My wind had escaped me ... I floated precariously to the ground below and lay there on the green grass staring up at the sky above me.

What was real? and What was merely ideal?

Breathing heavily, heart racing, I stared wide-eyed at the world around me.

I had no direction ... no purpose.

What was it exactly I wanted?

Could I even be honest with myself to answer truthfully?

I ... I want ... a family.

I trembled at this.

Years of being alone and "liking it" I finally admitted my desire for love, home, stability, and safety.

I shook my head to remove the thought from my head. Useless to dwell on something I had no control over.

What about direction ... purpose? What had God equipped me to do? What passions had he given me? Where was it exactly I wanted to go?

I ... I want to do diplomacy ... don't I?

Do I?

Do I really want to represent the United States of America? Or ...

no ... my true desire was to represent the Kingdom of God unhindered by bureaucratic red tape and enable women outside of the Christian-media-saturated world to study the Scriptures for themselves and train them to be theologians ... to love and know their God.

GASP!

Now what did I need to do to move in that direction?

I needed training ... so I applied for seminary and received my acceptance letter one week before classes began.

I had a purpose and was moving in a direction. I returned that October to visit my parents and help their ministry for a week. My eyes were open to so many areas of ministry that could be useful to the church there and hated to leave knowing that I could be of some good there. When I returned to my studies, I became incredibly restless for the need to minister and put my learning to use.

This led me to the Pacific Northwest this past summer, putting into practice some of my developing theories of ministry ... and to a loving relationship with a very supportive young man, who himself knows what it's like to experience a mid-midlife crisis.

And now ... I am no longer a lone leaf flitting in the wind.

*pictures from the time during my crisis click on My Pictures and peruse my Monterey/Prague/Wolfsburg pics.

For research purposes:
Did you have a mid-midlife crisis? What happened? What decisions did you make as a result? How did your life change?

22 comments:

GloryandGrace said...

For all I know, I'm still in the middle of it...or coming out of it...I'm not sure. But I do know that something happened when I turned 24. See my post entitled "From Oshkosh to Coldwater Creek."

Thank you for writing this~

Priscilla said...

So...what are you going to call it when you turn 40?

Tracyc said...

Well, i don't know that I had a mid-life crisis. I think more that I had a series of moments in which I questioned what I was doing and decided to pursue different courses of action. It started in college when I watched a Tony Campolo video in which he challenged people to consider missions. This combined with a Keith Green statement to consider that we are all "called" to missions. Not to ask, "should I go, but rather, why should I stay?"

When I finished paying off my student loans at age 26, I was reminded (divine nudge) of the promise I had made to myself in college to "look into missions" when I was financially able. I went through the process of researching organizations, choosing one, raising funds, family questioning me. More difficult was realizing that I was single at age 26 when I left, I will be single at age 28 when I return.

I went through more changes later in my life. Again when I returned home. I did a year of seminary and learned so much! Reevaluated my career and decided to work part time so that I could also work part time in a Christian ministry.

The most recent crisis in my life (thus far)was deciding to "honor my mother" by moving to be near her, building a house, meeting my husband. I honestly had given up on marriage many times over by the time we met.

I think a continual questioning, seeking God's purposes for our lives is healthy. Rather than a mid-life crisis which shakes a person to their core, a series of smaller evaluations. What could be around the corner?

Tracy said...

say, where did you go in the Pacific Northwest?

ckhnat said...

mostly Olympia, WA ... but I was also in the Willamette Valley for a week ... oh, and also Portland

sajini said...

What up? It was nice to be missed by you and Bethy and some other blog friends!! Sorry, I have been in the middle of NYC withdrawel/new Philly neighbourhood/wanting my room to be perfect/taking care of school stuff(they lost a lot of my stuff b.c of a new network they placed during the summer). I am hoping to be stress free for the most past by this weekend. So expect a call early next week. I think I got a sweet deal on a room thanks to daddy for Minn!! :)

sajini said...

Also, a little info to make you want to come see me. I live with this amazing family who lives in this big old victorian house(will post pictures). They build a balcony for me too. And FOOOD is very important in this house. I live next to a historic park, 50 feet away from a coffee shop and 4 blocks away from an amazing supermarket where one aisle has the sign(colombian, peruvian, indian, nigerian, ethiopian, brazilian food). Ok enough for now. More later!!!

Bobby said...

"Research shows that society does not consider individuals to have reached adulthood till they reach 26 years of age. At some point around this age, I'm convinced individuals face a crisis of direction and purpose."

LOL. Yes, my young friend, but that's not a "mid-life" crisis, that's a "beginning of adulthood" crisis. Lest, folks like me (I will turn 35 tomorrow) are already well beyond the mid-point of our lives. Perish the thought. ;-)

ckhnat said...

BOBBY! It's a MID-midlife crisis.

otherwise known as Quarter-life crisis!

Donna said...

I think my pre-mid-midlife crisis happened my senior year of college when my world began crashing down around me and I had no direction in which to go after graduation. I then left for Thailand for the summer and when I returned I worked full time for a year, and felt the weight of the mid-midlife crusis: felt stalemated, bored, and unsure about the future. It was during that season that God gave me a renewed sense of purpose and direction: missions.

It wasn't until I entered the next season of seminary that I began to understand that for the Christian missions is ALL aspects of your life: geography may change, circumstances, marital status, etc. but the common denominator is that by the grace of God you are to do ALL things for His glory - that He is made much of and exalted in all aspects of your life.

For me, in this season that means that I learn to love, respect, and serve my husband well, seek to grow in understanding and knowledge of God's Word and how it tangibly impacts our lives even in the hardest circumstances, that I care for the poor and lost in my community, that I treat the grocery man with dignity and truth, that I love and care for my friends and family selflessly and with grace, that I file papers and answer phone calls at work in a way that honors the Lord and honors my boss, and so on and so on.

I have begun to see my life in seasons - for me, it makes it much easier to let go of what has been, to not become overly anxious about what will be, and joyfully accept what currently IS. By God's grace, each season has been sweeter than the one before - and the future is dripping with potential. I also can't wait to see what the Lord will do with your life, Christine!

Martha said...

By the time I went through my mid-midlife crisis I had four children. I'm trying to remember but all I can think of is picture books, Fisher Price toys, and diapers. I think I must have missed half of my adolescence somewhere back there. I'm sure it will catch up with me eventually :)

PS I personally believe we should be grown up long before we reach twenty six years.

Bobby said...

Oh. My mind played a trick on me and didn't see the unexpected "mid." Because I'm ready for a one-mid mid life crisis. Not really. 8-)

Martha said...

Guess I'm just about ready for my midlife crisis now... Nah! I think I'll pass on that one too.

Priscilla said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Priscilla said...

I didn't notice the unexpected "mid" either. Thus my comment. I'm sorry.

I definitely went through a mid-midlife crisis! My last semester of college, I went student teaching. Part way through that I remember thinking...is this really what I want to do? I decided teaching really wasn't the best fit for me. I gradtuated thinking, "Now what do I do?" I felt really panicky nearly all the time and didn't know what I was going to do for the rest of my life. On top of that, I had a broken heart. A very serious relationship had ended and I was left broken and hurting. Before this relationship ended, I really was quite confident that I had my life mapped out. I would graduate, marry "him", I would go wherever he got a job because he was basically my god at that time and I'd get a teaching job for a while, we'd start a family, I'd quit teaching to be a mom and I'd live happily ever after.

Needless to say, none of this was going to happen (atleast not the way I had mapped it out). So during my mid-midlife crisis, I was brokenhearted, and clinically depressed as well as directionless and confused. Looking back I know the only reason I survived that period of time was because of God.

Anyway...I eventually got a job at a bank and started doing volunteer work for a Christian youth organization called Young Life. Ministry through YL was a huge blessing of God to me! Praise the Lord for his mercy! I learned to laugh again and underwent some healing. I eventually met my husband through this ministry. We got married, started a family...and here I am!

For me this period of time was all about learning to adjust my focus. Who was my God? Who or what was I going to worship? In who or in what was I going to put my trust? I needed to decide those things. It was a real wake-up call for me.

GloryandGrace said...

ckhnat,

Would you mind if I reference this post in my next post? I have an idea brewing for my next entry, and since you dedicated an entire entry to this particular topic, I was wondering if I could mention it as part of what I have in mind to write about. Thanks! Grace and peace~

Laura said...

Priscilla, your comment just gave me a whuppin'. Thanks.

Jim the 3rd said...

I've seen the term "Quarter-life Crisis". I bought a sports car, but that didn't really solve anything. Yet.

hicko said...

I always thought when you hit 25 it was the quarter life crisis, but perhaps that's a bit presumtuous. I don't know whether I've had a mid-life crisis as such as I haven't felt the need to change everything in the hope that it will make a difference.
Having said that I still don't know exactly what I want so maybe when i decide that the crisis will hit!

ckhnat said...

quarterlife crisis = MID-midlife crisis

Chris said...

kudos to John Mayer ... I love that song ... "or just a stirring in my soul; either way I wonder sometimes about the outcome of a still verdictless life ..."

avi said...

Laughter is way of life.
Check this out:
http://www.laughteryoga.org/teacherlist.php?field=showAddress&profileId=1240

It was fated that I will visit your blog. I might be the white lighter.

Mid life is more than once. You are now twice the age of 12.5 for sure, but there are no guarantees if now is your mid life or 1/3 or 3/4. It is how you will pass the rest that matters.

Life charges us like a bull fight but the result is not complete without our action. If we control our actions positively we are creating another result and helping good fate rather than ill fate

you can reach me at avi at honeycombasia dot com