Pondering Middle Age
No, I’m not planning on buying a sports car or some other vehicle with enough machismo to reconfirm my manhood. And, no, I do not plan on dyeing my hair some unreal color or wear clothes that make it clear I’m trying to be much younger than I am. None of this appeals to me as I approach the crest of this artificial hill. Maybe I’m atypical, maybe I’m typical, or maybe I’m deluded into thinking I’m somehow more special than anyone else and my experience will be altogether unique as I approach my 50th anniversary of life on this blue marble.
I won’t say that a new look or a new something or other or new clothes or a new hobby doesn’t have it’s appeal. But, I have no interest in skydiving or becoming a rock climber or any of the other extreme activities that seem to suddenly become explorations of others I have known. Maybe I’m boring. I dunno… but none of the typical stuff seems to be floating around in my brain.
I will say that I am not exactly fond of my car. My mom gave it to me when she became unable to drive due to her COPD (she’s since passed away). I am genuinely thankful for it. That being said, it’s a 2000 Chevy Cavalier with peeling paint, an interior with broken pieces of dash, worn seats, and leaky door seals (highly annoying at highway speeds). But, it’s paid for, still has a working A/C, and gets me from point A to point B without too much fuss. So, I’m planning to keep the thing until it won’t drive anymore or something happens to it that’s too expensive to justify fixing.
I’ve had the same basic hair style my entire adult life. The length used to vary considerably more than it does now and I did all of my hair experimentation when I was younger (long hair, permed hair, mullet, dyed hair, etc.) So, I’ve been there and done that and have no desire to change it at this stage. If I ever end up at a hairstylist and they suggest some sort of look that I find appealing that, again, doesn’t just look like a middle age man trying to suddenly appear younger than he is – I’d be open, but it’s still pretty unlikely that I’d change.
A good bit of my wardrobe is dated and it could use an update, but I’ve been delaying this as I’m currently working pretty hard at getting more fit and I don’t want to buy new clothes only to have them be (hopefully) too large soon. Speaking of my fitness push – some might think that this could be attributed to middle age, but they’d be wrong on that count as well. It’s all been due to failing health and my doctor prescribing meds I don’t want to take. Well, I guess that means it is a factor of middle age… but from the other direction – an aging body rather than a regretful mind.
So, yes, I might get new clothes over the next year and I might eventually get a new(er) car, but none of this is due to the typical middle-age obsession with either recapturing youth or trying to accomplish the things I “should” have gotten done already.
All in all, I can’t really complain about where I’m at today. I did start into my career path much later than I wish I had, but my career choices prior to being a Sys Admin are what actually led me here, so that’s not really a regret. I do have some personal issues that I’m continuing to work on, but who doesn’t? There are areas that I see in my life where great improvement could be had… again, everyone who honestly examines their life encounters this. Again, nothing surprising.
Even with all of that, I can sense that something is happening. I’m usually more pensive around each birthday as it always seems to cause me to evaluate where I’m at and where I want to be. Some years, this becomes an unhealthy examination because it ended up more as navel gazing self-defeatism rather than action. This year, it appears to have done something altogether different. I’m less interested in trying to figure out where I’ve gone wrong and far more interested in what the next thing is that I want to do. What will the course of my life be over the next year. No regrets. No nostalgic glances into days gone by – just a heart-felt examination of my sense of direction and purpose.
As I write this, I realize how exciting this is. I’m about to turn 50 and my mind is turned toward tomorrow and not back at yesterday. I’m focused on how I want to improve myself over the next year not lamenting at what I have yet to accomplish. I don’t think I was excited about it until this moment. I kept having this sort of “oh no!” moment as I contemplated it. I was so concerned that I was falling into some sort of middle-aged crisis that I didn’t stop to consider how amazing it is that my thoughts are focused on the road ahead and not on where I’ve been.
God has, indeed, been good to me.
He has blessed me with an incredible wife with whom I share that inexpressibly beautiful form of love: loving someone fully knowing that you, in turn, are loved fully. There is nothing else that captures the security, the passion, the romance, and the sublime beauty found in this blessing of God. She has never been more beautiful than she is now and I have never loved her more than I do now. What’s really beautiful is that I know, with every fiber of my being that I will love her more tomorrow and she will be even more beautiful still.
In this experience, it becomes so much clearer why Paul uses marriage as a picture of our relationship with God. As I understand my wife – as she forgives, serves, cherishes, and exhorts me… I’m closer to her and I’m closer to God in the midst of that. He has forgiven, continues to forgive and, ultimately, will completely forgive all of my transgressions and imperfections. Not only this, He continues to love me in my messed up, broken state and sees me as more than I could ever see myself. He calls me His own. I belong to Him.
On top of this, I have three amazing girls that constantly reveal God’s grace to me – who love me without question. Three amazingly different personalities who show me different facets of my own frailty without condemnation. Three beautiful lives that give me opportunities for grace while lavishing me with their own grace. I’m quickly forgiven for my faults, and still constantly sought after for my love, advice, and attention. Lord help me never take advantage of this and grant me the ability to continue to lavish loving grace in the midst of the challenge of being their beacon pointing directly to Jesus.
Life, honestly, is quite good. Not perfect. Not without its struggles, because life on this side of Glory is toil. Nevertheless, it is good. And, for that, I am thankful.