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Having a Midlife crisis (with a small "c")?

If you're in your mid 40's, 50's, or mid 60's, and you recognize any of the issues in the picture below as changes and challenges you face, you may think you're having a midlife Crisis with a capital "C."

Instead, you may be having a midlife crisis with a small "c."

Life stage transitions bring challenges and opportunities. They can bring physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual transitions, questions, and uncertainties. For some of us, this will seem chaotic.

But here's some perspective.

The term, "midlife crisis," was coined in 1965 by Elliott Jaques, referring to a phase in life we all go through to one degree or another. The idea was most often represented by the married middle-aged guy who tries to feel younger by trading in his wife and car for a new, sportier model.

Since then, the understanding of what goes on during the midlife years of 45-64 years old (give or take) has become more fluid and realistic, as a time of transition and self-confidence issues, not necessarily a defined phase called a “midlife crisis.”

A Menu of What You May Experience

Here are some of the transitions, challenges, attitudes, and thoughts that pop up in the midlife years. Do any of these comments sound familiar?

  • Starting to notice mental, emotional, or physical changes that come with aging.

  • Thinking you're stuck in a job or career, marking time, going nowhere fast.

  • Finding yourself looking for a new job or career because of a job loss.

  • Facing care-giving decisions regarding your aging parents or a loved one.

  • Struggling with grief after the loss of a loved one or good friend.

  • Facing obstacles and fears keeping you from meeting goals, pursuing dreams.

  • Retiring but wondering what to do now.

  • Spending more time thinking and regretting the past than looking ahead.

  • Looking for a way to reinvent yourself, recapturing the energy of your earlier years.

  • Wanting to be all you can be, and all God wants you to be, but don’t know how.

  • Longing for a path to a more intimate relationship with God.

  • Wanting answers to questions like "Why am I here?" "What is my purpose?"

  • Asking“What difference has my life made?”

  • Feeling there has to be more to life than you have experienced and accomplished.

The Foundational Purpose Question

While there are those who, for legitimate physical, medical,or emotional reasons, do go through crises with a Capital "C," many of the challenges, transitions, attitudes, and thoughts listed above, and we experience as we enter the midlife years and progress beyond, are part of being human in a complex world.

How we handle the challenges and transitions of the midlife years, has a lot to do with the thoughts we harbor and the attitudes we exhibit. These in turn are affected by the role we think God plays in our lives.

At one time or another, we all wonder about our God-given purpose. This is an important question for each of us to answer, since our God-given life purpose is the foundation of all we do, even though how we fulfill it can change, as we evolve as a person, and our priorities change in response to different experiences and possibilities.

Listen to God's Words

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. (James 1:2-6)

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:11-12)

Also read: Joshua 1:5, Romans 1:18, Hebrew 13:5

In the Words of Others

"Midlife is the time to let go of an overdominant ego and to contemplate the deeper significance of human existence." Carl Jung

"Midlife crisis---time when you feel a desperate pull to life the life you want to live, and not the life your're 'supposed' to live." Brene Brown.

Things to Consider

  • If you thought any of the bullet points applied to you, list them and describe why. Have they been a source of anxiety for you, or just something you've taken in stride?

  • Has anyone suggested you were having a midlife crisis? If yes, what did they say? What came to mind when you thought about it?

  • How have the deeper midlife and beyond questions affected you? For example, Why am I here? What is my purpose? What difference has my life made?

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