It’s not a midlife crisis; it’s eternity in your heart: Open Letter to a Friend

[From the archives]

Friend,

You’re asking me if this is all there is? If there’s more to life than this? If this is as good as it gets?

DSC_0167.JPGYou need to know you’re not the only one.

You’re not the only one who has been sleep-deprived and soul-depleted for close on a decade. You’re not the only one who cringes when someone asks, ‘So what do you do for fun?’ Because, um, you’re not sure you have interests of your own anymore. You don’t pursue pastimes or take courses. You’re citing Meal Planning as a postgrad credential.

Your body can’t do what it used to do and doesn’t look how it used to look. People say you’re just getting comfortable in your own skin but you kind of long for the tight-fit of nineteen. You’re not the only one living with an acute case of full-blown, terminal life.

You scaled the rock face of career with sheer grit and guts only to emerge on the plateau of mediocrity for a lukewarm rah-rah and a perfunctory paygrade. You’re juggling kids and crazy but beneath all the frenetic, monotony seeps insidious.DSC_0168Your heart twinges when that song plays, and you’re surprised by sadness when you smell what used to thrill you – like bushveld dust or ocean salt. Because you remember how when they first filled your senses the world was your playground of every possibility. You didn’t do drugs; you just mainlined big dream exhilaration. Now those sounds and smells remind you that life lets you down even though you’re killing yourself to expose your kids to those same sensory wonders that will come at them smelling like hope and possibility and you’re wondering if you’re setting them up for disappointment.DSC_0273You reckon that Christians have it harder than most. All around you are others who don’t value morality or accountability so they’re doing whatever and whoever they want or swiping the plastic for debt dressed in bling because their worldview allows them to have a spectacular – necessary – deserved – midlife crisis and loving Jesus can feel boring and exhausting and – is it worth it?

So friend, you’re not the only one living with raw questions and half-baked answers. You’re not the only one comparing your real to the highlight reels of Fakebook and reeling from the realisation that life really is hard, like God and your parents told you it would be.DSC_0086_4.JPGBut you know how I’m all about the truth and the courage, so here’s what I’m telling me and telling you –

You’re coming into fullness. A new and beautiful depth of experience. When you were younger you only saw half the truth – that there’s hope and beauty and possibility in this world. Now you’re living the privilege of older and now you have a fuller picture of the truth: that yes, there’s hope and beauty and possibility in this world, but that their transient manifestation is just a stunning reflection of the hope and beauty and possibility of an everlasting future.

DSC_0088_6And the truth isn’t heavy. It just is.

So –

Find wonder

Never lose your sense of awe at who God is and how He splashes splendour across the skies and our hearts. Keep hunting for beauty. Keep scratching out thank-You-God moments on your phone, in your journal, on the bathroom mirror, even if people think it’s lame. Keep teaching your kids to notice and revel and reach for the mystery. All the glory in the here and now tugs at our sleeves – points eagerly to the unfading glory to come. Don’t let the sadness wash over you for what might have been. The best is yet to be.

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Get dirty

Dig deep into the life soil of your kids and your community. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty for Kingdom causes bigger than you. Live unveiled, unfettered, unhurried. Sow generously all God has sown in you, knowing that the longer you live the more you’ll know how little you know.

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Look up

You won’t make sense of the mess you’re in the middle of, by staring down into it. And don’t grow weary of doing good. In due time you’ll reap. In due time, you may even have more time. And new direction and opportunity. Don’t give up now. Paul – persecuted – may have had a midlife something going on when he wrote –

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)

You’re not the only one, friend, but there is Only One who can turn your doubt and disappointment into deeper devotion, your drudgery into dreams, your despair into post-traumatic growth. He’s your courage to face what isn’t fair. He’s the catalyst for lasting change. He is your hope.

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Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

(Ecclesiastes 3:11)

. . .

Love and strength to you for a marvellous week.

Please share this post if you think it might encourage a midlife-ish someone you love.

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