Middle Age - A Time of Grace and Glory

So many I've known, in years past, reached the age 45 or 50 and then had some version of a mid-life crises. Always, always some effort to re-create themselves...always some sense of entitlement that made them up and leave jobs, churches, friendships, and sometimes even a marriage - thinking they had "earned" the right to do whatever they wanted to do.

I feel their pain. I miss the woman they used to be. Who they were was lovely and who they were becoming could have been even more amazing. If they had just had the courage to become who they were, not become someone they wish they were. If they had just found the courage to stick and stay until the storm passed and all was beautiful again.

Mid-life could have been such a time of harvest and fruitfulness for these ones. They began so well. It has never failed to grieve me when I see yet another dear one either silently implode....or become a caricature of themselves, in their attempt to become someone entirely different from who they have always been.

Trying new and different things is wonderful...but it is wonderful all the time. New experiences and attempting new things should be a way of life at every age, in every season.

But who a woman is, and what God requires of her, in terms of her gifts and the call of God on her life, is something God never repents of. God never takes it back....never retracts who He wired you to be. No woman, I don't care who she is, can re-make herself. Yet so many women, at precisely the point of middle age, suddenly want to trade in who they were made to be, in order to become who they were not made to be. (Men, too...)

Middle age IS a time of becoming...becoming more, and more wisely artistic, if you are artistic. More, and more wisely passionate, if you always have believed strongly. More, and more wisely a teacher, if you've taught others off and on all your life. More, and more wisely a leader, if others have tended to follow you. More and more wisely merciful, if mercy is your gift.

Not a new version of you....a more, and more beautiful, and more wise you. More and better and wiser and sweeter and more compassionate.

Middle age should be a time of quietly laying aside our own way, our own ideas, and of finding out who we truly are, beneath all the trappings of life.

To sit still, and allow this becoming to emerge....however slowly...takes courage.

It is far easier to succumb to discontentment and get the cheek implants, or the Corvette, or the McMansion, or the flock of guineas and Nubian goats...or leave your husband, your career, your church, yourself...just leave it all behind. Anything to relieve the feeling of panic or anger, anything to avoid the sameness of boredom, anything to keep from having to humble yourself and adjust. Anything but face the sadness of a hope long deferred.

Be patient, beautiful middle age friend. Don't find yourself wishing you could exchange your beautiful gifts for someone else's....don't make a rash decision. And...never leave anything offended....not a friendship or a church or even a party. Find the courage to take joy, and then cultivate creative continuity. Find the courage to hold your ground, and become more of the woman you were originally designed to be.

Written for you with love...

Sheila Atchley

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