Archive for the ‘Mid-Life’ Category

I ended yesterday’s blog writing that I would pick up today with a look at the causes of a mid-life crisis.  As I began thinking about the causes I realized that it could be summed up in one word: EMPTINESS;  Or at least a sense of emptiness.  It is that gnawing feeling that there is something out there better than what I have experienced to this point in my life. 

Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon, who, despite his reputation for being the wisest man to ever live, had what seems to be a mid-life crisis; see if Solomon’s pattern doesn’t sound familiar. Like most people, Solomon wanted certain things out of life: happiness, love, success, and meaning. And like many young adults, his search for truth and meaning directed his attention to the study of philosophy.

He read the great writers of the day and contemplated the great historical ideologies. He pitted one world view against the other and dissected them all. He studied the prevailing explanations for the purpose of life, and when he had thoroughly examined all the textbooks and theories and arguments of the day, he concluded…  “So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.” Eccle. 2:17

He’s not saying that philosophy has no value, but the wisest man in the world (which is how the Bible describes Solomon) took philosophy as far as it can be taken and concluded that he will never find ultimate soul satisfaction in the pages of a book or in another man’s opinion of the meaning of life. “It’s like chasing the wind,” he says.

He crossed philosophy off his list and turned his attention to self-indulgence and self-gratification. Ecclesiastes 2 reveals how Solomon pulled all the stops in pleasure seeking. He drank only the best wine, he built gardens and parks and ponds in order to surround himself with beauty and splendor; he hired the best musicians in the world to perform for him at his request; he assembled harems of beautiful young women so that he could live out his sexual fantasies. He sums it up by saying… “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure…yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 2:10

He tried philosophy, he tried pleasure, and next, he tried possessions. He built mansions for himself–one took 13 years to build that had precious stones in the foundation walls. He accumulated large herds and planted the forests and vineyards. He collected art and treasures from all over the world. In spite of all he was able to accumulate, he came to the conclusion that it is all meaningless.

Next, he poured himself into his work. It wasn’t long before he realized that this too was meaningless. He said, So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety?  Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 (NLT)

For the next ten chapters of this book, Solomon discusses his search of happiness, love, success, and meaning–yet that gnawing sense of something missing would not go away.

I began by summing up the cause of mid-life crisis with one world, emptiness.  Let me end with a one word cure for mid-life crisis:  CONTENTMENT.  Take a little while each day to stop looking over in the neighbor’s yard at how much greener his or her grass is and enjoy your own.  Besides, the greenest spot in my yard is over the septic tank and drain field!  What does that tell you?

In the end, Solomon experienced the ultimate benefit of a mid-life quest. His search for “something more” took him down several dead end paths, and he finally realized what was missing. In Ecclesiastes 12:13 the wisest man in the world came to this conclusion: Fear God, keep his commandments; this is the whole duty of man.

The most important discovery you can make, at mid-life or any time of life, is that the meaning of life can be found in a relationship with God–fearing him and keeping his commandments.

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A few years back USA Today quoted Dr. Michael Jazwinski of the LSU Medical Center as saying, “some people who are now living may still be alive 400 years from now.” In his study, one hundred top aging experts were interviewed and many believe that “based on the expectation of manipulating a manageable number of human genes that control aging, 400 to 700 year life spans may be possible in few decades.”

Who knows how I will feel about this at ninety-nine, but I’m just not sure I really want to live that long. I’ve got crow’s feet, I wake up with a sore back, and I can’t remember where I put my glasses half the time and I make about seven trips to the bathroom each night.  Imagine what kind of shape I’ll be in on my 400th birthday. If I died at the age of 400 they certainly wouldn’t let me donate my body to science. They wouldn’t even let me donate my body to science fiction.

Did you know that in the year 1900, the average life expectancy in this country was only 47 years? Today it is 75 years, which, statistically, puts the “mid” point in life at about 37-38 years of age. Generally speaking “mid-life” covers the years between 35-50, give or take a few. In fact, if you’re wondering whether or not you’ve reached middle age, here’s a few guidelines. Mid-life is…

…when you stop criticizing the older generation and start criticizing the younger generation.

…when you’re sitting at home on Saturday night, the phone rings, and you hope that it isn’t for you.

…when you’re more interested in how long your car will last than how fast it will go.

…when you begin saying things like, “When I was your age…”

…when the one telling you to slow down is a doctor, not a policeman.

During this mid-life time there is a phenomenon called a mid-life crisis that often strikes people as they pass through this particular season of life. First of all, let’s look at…

TIP #1. What is a mid-life crisis?

One morning I was walking around before the Sunday service meeting new people. I approached a young lady, maybe 20 years old, and said, “Hi. Is this is your first time here?” She said, “Yes it is.” I said, “Glad you’re here. My name is Billy Ready.” She said, “Nice to meet you,” then looked at my picture on the wall of pastors, then looked back at me and said, “Oh you’re the pastor? I didn’t recognize you from the picture. You’ve aged.” I graciously smiled, thanked her, and hobbled to my seat. If I wasn’t quite at the point of crisis, her remark pushed me over the edge.

I recently read of a survey of “40 somethings” that was conducted. One of the questions I was “What is a mid-life crisis?” Here are some of their answers.

“It’s realizing that your life is half over and you haven’t accomplished enough–not enough money saved, no outstanding career accomplishments…may you’re not the winner you always though you would be.”

A man who said he feels he’s currently experiencing a mid-life crisis wrote, “I find myself starting to think about all the decisions I’ve made in my life and if I made the right ones. Is there still time to fix the mistakes? Or is there no turning back now?”

Another person described a mid-life crisis this way, “It’s a point in your life when you realize that your youth has passed and you begin to feel regrets about your past and fears about your future.”

Someone else wrote, “It’s when you ask yourself, ‘Is this all there is?’ I don’t even really feel grown up and yet I’m already old.” (Here’s one I can still relate to!)

Mid-life is that period between 35 and 50 and it is inevitable. You can’t avoid mid-life anymore than you can avoid adolescence. If you live long enough, it’s a passage you will go through. However, a mid-life crisis is not inevitable. Some people enter and pass through mid-life without any trouble at all. Others find the transition to be very unsettling. Regardless, the undeniable fact is that between the ages of 35 and 50, changes do take place…

  • Physically–less energy, graying hair, health problems.
  • Vocationally–you’re likely to reach the peak of your professional life, and you have to accept the fact that this is far up the ladder as you may ever go.
  • Relationally–your children get older, they move away, you may even find yourself caring for your aging parents, and statistically the chances of going through a divorce increase.
  • Financially–as you close in on retirement you may not be as comfortable financially as you thought you would be at this point.

When a person has two or three of these stresses occurring at the same time, well, mid-life can easily turn into a mid-life crisis.

Here’s a stereo-typical mid-life crisis scenario: a man in his early forties–bald, got a bit of a belly, stuck in a job he doesn’t like, going nowhere in his marriage, up to his neck in debt, and completely “locked-in” to his place in life–goes to his 25 year high-school reunion and suddenly begins to evaluate his life. He says, “My life is half-over. At best I’ve got maybe another 30 years left. I’ve worked my fingers to the bone and lived at a hectic pace, and what do I have to show for it? Why am I so unfulfilled? What is the meaning and purpose of it all?”

When we’re young we feel invincible, but one day reality comes crashing in on us and we realize that we’re not getting any younger and that life is slipping away from us. The disillusionment can be devastating.

Tomorrow I want to pick up with what causes Mid-Life Crisis.  Let me do something that I don’t do often enough,  thank the people who have poured this information into my life.  I am nowhere near smart enough to think these tips up on my own.  You know who you are (and may be wondering if I ever have an original idea!).  Thanks.

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