Sunday, October 4, 2015


"My days are in the yellow leaf;
The flowers and fruits of love are gone;
The worm, the canker, and the grief
are mine alone!"
Byron, On This Day I Complete My Thirty-Sixth Birthday

 Why do people usually have some kind of crisis in the middle of their lives? Although each person is different and unique, there are some underlying factors that seem to touch most cases. The concept of mid-life is similar to the task of climbing a gigantic mountain where, first, one side of the peak must be conquered in getting to the top. Then, the other side of the mountain needs to be skillfully descended before the ultimate success of the venture can be proclaimed and enjoyed. One author expresses it this way:
"It is a time when a man reaches the peak of a mountain range. He looks back over where he has come from and forward to what lies ahead. He also looks at himself and asks, “Now that I’ve climbed the mountain, am I an different for it? Do I feel fulfilled? Have I achieved what I want to achieve?" - Jim Conway, Men in Mid Life Crisis.
In addition to this evaluation of achievements as compared to dreams, there is also much thought given to what can be done with the rest of one’s life considering what was learned on the first leg of the journey. By this time in a person’s life, there is usually a much greater and realistic knowledge of one’s strengths, gifting and weaknesses than there was at age twenty. In light of the learning process, mid-life provides an excellent opportunity for a person to make a mid-course shift and focus in on that which he or she does well.
The whole area of self-worth reemerges as one evaluates accomplishments in the face of goals. If the person has not accomplished what was set out for, dissatisfaction will likely be experienced. If he or she has been unable to achieve personal dreams, discouragement and depression may be experienced as one faces the possibility that he or she never will. The person may conclude; “I guess I just don’t have what it takes: I’m an utter failure.” Since at least part of ones' self-image is based on our physical strength, athletic ability and youthful looks, some serious mental readjustment will need to take place.
In the reevaluation of self, the whole area of social relationships will come into scrutiny. This may be confounded by the fact that his or her children are moving into their teen years and are less respectful than they used to be. The marital relationship may have suffered due to living in two different worlds: the husband immersed in his work and the wife with the children and the running of the home. If his wife works, a whole other possible area of distancing may threaten marital closeness.

By this point in life, it is not uncommon for a man to feel as if he has no deep and satisfying relationships with other men. His friendships may all be more work-related dissatisfying and not lend themselves to inner opening. He may yearn for or idealize “the good old days” of his youth where he had a broad and satisfying range of relationships. As if this was not enough, society through the media proclaims the message to him that he is over the hill as youth is heralded and aging is portrayed as the ultimate curse.
According to Conway, “reassessment is the prevailing theme of mid-life crisis.” (Page 28 of his book). All kinds of questions are asked, most of which have no easily discovered answer. Have I botched up my life? Are my kids the way they are because I wasn’t a better father / mother? Where is the intimacy I yearn for with my spouse? Why am I so bored at work? Should I pursue a different career? Are the things really true that I based the first half of my life on? In some ways, the person in mid-life is asking many of the same questions as his teenage son or daughter.
The bottom line for most people are the questions they ask themselves is a frantic search for purpose and meaning in their lives. They want their contribution to count toward something that they esteem as important. In mid-life, the pressure to produce may be more keenly felt because the person has passed from being “the promising youth to the experienced veteran.” Whereas people in their youth are usually able to pardon their lack of significant achievement because they are just beginning, middle-aged men and women are much harder on themselves. They begin to realize that if it hasn’t happened by now, what they yearn for may never come into being. Since much maybe riding on a person’s success (self-image, prestige, security, significance and self-worth) a crisis of monumental proportions is easily the result. 

(The above was taken from a thesis I wrote in the early 1980's as part of my course work for a Master's Degree.)
Questions to consider: To what degree have you experienced mid-life crisis? How has your struggle with mid-life crisis been similar or different to this brief post? How has or might listening to God be helpful in processing your experience of mid-life? Please send your comments to:

1 comment:

  1. Never thought about the year I turned 45 as a mid-life crisis but definitely a defining moment from tears & a cloud over me to a transformation to technicolor. It came through personal retreating w/Him & a dear friend speaking into my life. God was SO sufficient as I went through that year and has continued to reveal himself in a specific call on my life in my 50's. Listening Prayer has definitely been a part of His equipping in this. Thank you!!