Most of us think of midlife as a crisis that explains why some folks stray from their spouse of several decades or purchase a red sports car. Actually midlife is a spiritual gift, an opportunity to ascend to a more spiritually significant way of living. It is an opportunity to pause and use your decades of life to lead you the true art of living. If you have the privilege of living past your midlife, I hope you will not let it to be a crisis but an invitation to deeper meaning about how best to use the years of living you have left.
For the past nine months I have been leading a group of people to think about their midlife. Even after adding more responsibilities to my job this past summer, I couldn’t help myself; I felt an urging to offer this class. As the minister of Congregational Care, I wanted to offer some response to the statistics that suicides at midlife are increasing and almost rival adolescent suicides. I have a sense of urgency to lead people to God’s word regarding life and its purpose, especially at midlife. The number of our days are known only to God. Job 14:5 says:
A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. He is the giver of life, and He gives each of us a life to live for His glory.
Teaching this class has been one of my favorite ministries during this past year. I had no idea that the five changes at midlife I thought I had already made were redone over the nine months I was teaching. I discovered the importance of the message about spiritual transformation at midlife was vital to my personal life and also becoming critical for the world we live in today. I had overlooked the sentence where Iris Peace explained: Understand this, the more educated, or smart, or sophisticated or world-wise you are the more mid-life crisis states you will go through. My class members and I discovered that midlife states are constant and extend new invitations to a more meaningful life and walk with God.
The pangs of living in a fallen world are constant and cause more despair than ever before. If we put our hope in what this world can give us alone, we will all give up by midlife. Now that our American economy is taking different hits that we have been shielded from in the past, our midlife adults can lose their way, not seeing a way to recover financially even after careful plotting and planning. The secret to midlife is to use the lessons from the passage of time you have experienced in order to make whatever adjustments are required. We need to see our lives as an adventure and believe that God gives us life for a reason and purpose. There is always hope when God leads you through midlife.
According to Iris Pearce, at midlife God sends you five things you feel you have to change.
1. The Need to Replace the Spouse [or get one].
2. The Need to Change what type of work I do.
3. The Need to Change where I do my work
4. The need to Change where I live.
5. The Need to Change me.
We can make these changes into crises if we do not center ourselves in God’s word. God tells us that we cannot change our spouse. If we follow the Holy Spirit, we will start with the need to change ourselves and then move into the other midlife changes grounded rather than in despair. Pray for our country and those facing midlife and all its invitations to change. Pray for protection from despair and suicide, rather may the church and God’s Word lead us to a spiritual transformation at midlife.