So I guess I am officially at that stage known as “mid-life.” It dawned on me recently that, at 43, I may…or may not…have at least as much life ahead of me as I do behind me.
That is a sobering thought indeed. But not necessarily a “crisis,” more like a time of taking stock.
Being “in the middle” has caused me to do some deep reflections on what has been, while pondering what is to come.
Recently I received my Master’s Degree. Many of my classmates could have been my children. I was older than some of my professors! As excited as I was to go back to school, I have to say that this was a shock to the system. It also took me back to my days as a college student in my early 20s, living on campus, trekking to class every day, hanging out with friends, dreaming of what my life would be like. Oh, if I had known then what I know now!
As I reflect on the life I’ve lived so far, I honesty can say that I have very few regrets. Life has been filled with many surprises and joys, as well as many sorrows. I believe I’ve had a pretty good life so far, in spite of it all.
When I take stock of my life as it is right now, some areas of my life are not where I want them to be (marriage, economic status) while other areas of my life have gone beyond my wildest dreams. For example, I’ve been to more places than most people ever dream of, and I am privileged to raise one of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever met.
Here are a few of the many lessons I’ve learned from “life in the middle”…
1. There’s still time. God makes all things good in His time.
Sometimes I feel like by now, I should have accomplished “all the things.” Or at least most of them. But then the realization hits: "I’ve barely gotten started!" And I have to stop and remind myself, there’s no hurry. While I can live a quality life, and a purposeful life, I don’t need to rush my life, even now.
2. Appreciate the everyday, and embrace change
In my 20s, I was full of hope and promise, like the flush of a new romance. But in my 30s and even at 40+, reality hit...maybe life isn’t as simple as fulfilled dreams and happily ever afters. It’s easy to get stuck in the drudgery of life…motherhood, relationship challenges, financial and career concerns, etc. It can feel tedious while we live out the everyday-ness of life: grocery runs, car lines, homework, housework, work, work, work. My daughter, who is 11, is beginning to do her own hair. What used to be such a normal (and at times challenging!) part of our daily routine, has changed. I know there is a part of me that is going to miss those times, plunked in front of the TV, my elbows deep in her hair. It’s a sign that she’s growing up…and it makes me happy and sad at the same time. She is growing and changing, and I have to learn to let her. There’s that old saying, “this too shall pass”. And yes, it does pass…sometimes way too quickly. I’ve learned to enjoy the good, and know that the bad won’t last, and don't resist change.
3. I don’t have to wait until everything is perfect to step out and take risks.
There was never a “good time” for me to go back to school. When the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at the chance. I had no idea how I was going to manage a full course load and raise my daughter alone, but I did it, by the grace of God and with the help of a supportive family. It was definitely worth the risk! Sometimes things don’t work out as nicely…but it’s still worth the risk. Take a chance! You never know where it will take you.
4. It’s ok to not have it all figured out
In many ways, I could relate to my young classmates…most of them were just starting out in their lives, trying to figure out what they wanted to do, uncertain about the future. Even though I had already done a great deal of what they were aspiring to do, (teach music in school, play professionally, travel, etc.), I found myself consumed by that awkward feeling of not knowing what I want to be when I grow up. Even now that I’ve graduated, I still have no idea where my life is headed. I've decided that it’s ok. I’ve given myself permission to not have it all figured out. It gives me a wonderful opportunity to grow in my relationship with the Lord, and trust Him even more for His leading. I have enough life behind me to know that He is faithful, and somehow it all works out. Psalm 37:25 is true.
5. The best is yet to come…it’s not over til it’s over!
I am convinced that my best days are ahead of me. Even though so much of my life is uncertain, the truth is, life is never certain. We never know what is waiting for us each new day, if we are fortunate enough to see another day. This is where I believe faith is so important. There has to be something more, some kind of constant. Life has the amazing ability to lift us to the highest heights and send us crashing to the deepest depths..sometimes so quickly, we don’t even have time to blink. It comforts me to know that God’s Word promises that He who began a good work in us, will be faithful to complete it. That is the one thing we can count on!
Are you “in the middle?” How are you handling it? What lessons have you learned in your current life stage? Do share!