“Middle age” has been described as that period of life that you never want to enter and you never want to leave.
Some 1200 individuals were asked to define middle age. Of that number, 41 percent said that it begins when you have to start worrying about money for health-care, 42 percent said it was when your last child moves out and the dog dies, and 16 percent said it was when you don’t recognize the names of music groups that are now popular.
Back in 1989, the MacArthur Foundation funded the largest grant ever given to study middle age, what they consider to be the last “uncharted territory in human development.” The study, which covered a period of eight years, concludes that the middle years are more a state of mind than a chronological transition. But one interesting finding of the research is that they believe the “mid-life crisis” syndrome has gotten far too much credibility.
Rather than being an actual physical period of stress, they say the idea of crisis becomes a tantalizing excuse for wild and outrageous behavior, something that justifies irresponsibility and outright rashness. This is the period of life when red convertible cars are purchased and some spouses are traded in for newer models. Of course, an emotional crisis ensues along with family crisis of gargantuan proportions. It can spell “big trouble” in any language.
No denying it, however, some natural changes do occur. A humorous article stating “25 Surefire Signs You’ve Finally Hit Middle Age” included:
1. Reading on your phone becomes difficult because the font is suddenly too tiny and blurry.
2. Hair starts appearing in the wrong places— on your nose, face, ears.
3. You go to bed by 8 p.m. and fall asleep by 9 p.m.
But far from being a time of turmoil, for most people the midlife years appear to be a time of psychic equanimity, good health, productive activity and community involvement, the MacArthur researchers found. ”On balance, the sense we all have is that midlife is the best place to be,” said Dr. Orville Gilbert Brim, director of the network, which is made up of researchers from many different academic disciplines.
The danger is to fail to recognize that your experience far compensates for the slight decrease in the energy that you have. You’ve hit the ball over the net so many times that you’ve got a pretty good idea where it’s going to bounce and only need to take five steps instead of 10. You’ve made mistakes and learned from them. You have been around the block a couple of times and you’ve learned the hard way to work smarter rather than simply harder. But wisdom isn’t an automatic result of aging: “It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right,” the book of Job warns. Living in relationship with God, making the most of our days makes the difference. Psalm 90:12 instructs: “Teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” This can be the best of times or the worst of times. You determine which they can be.
May I ask a question, “How old are you, anyway?” Some are old at 40; others youthful at 75. You are as young as you think, as old as you see yourself to be. You are as young as your faith, as old as your fears. Maturity from an emotional and spiritual viewpoint is being at peace with yourself at every season of life. As Proverbs 16:31 puts it, “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.” So be it.
Resource Reading: Psalm 92:12-14
Text: Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days. Job 12:12 ESV
1] Goode, Erica. “New Study Finds Middle Age is Prime of Life.” Newyorktimes.com. February 16, 1999. Accessed March 20, 2017.
GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – May 8, 2017