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?"
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 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.
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?