Even though the term “midlife crisis” has only been used in recent decades, the cultural phenomenon is significant in its apparent impact. Usually described to happen between the ages of 35 to 60, people reach a critical juncture where they experience different levels of disappointment regarding one’s life. A person reaches midlife, looks around at his or her body, family, career, home, and wealth to inquire this penetrating question: “Is this it?”
Stereotypically, people assume someone is struggling through a midlife crisis when a flashy new vehicle is purchased, a toned body is desired, or an exciting hobby is pursued. While these can be legitimate indications of such a crisis, the motivation behind the symptoms is the most critical piece to evaluate. What does he or she see as lacking and what level of desperation does he or she possess to ensure its possession?
The only way to survive a midlife crisis is by focusing on what you have rather than what you don’t have.
Your identity is in Christ and not in your accomplishments. If you could spare your soul from unrealistic and unhealthy expectations, you would realize that you are blessed beyond measure. If you know Christ, you truly are blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3) and every need is fulfilled (Phil. 4:19).
Regardless of how old you are, preparing for a midlife crisis starts today. Even though the best day to plant a tree was decades ago, the second best day is today. The same is accurate with preparing for spiritual slumps.
Even while you have hopefully been building endurance into your life for decades, if you haven’t, don’t neglect its importance another moment. Plant your entire life in the nurturing soil of God’s Word by meditating on it day and night so that you will not fall during times of drought (Ps. 1:2-3). The more that you apply this Word into your life, the more successful you will become (Josh. 1:8). The delights and disciplines you put into your life now will emerge at the times when you need them most.
The Spirit will bring to your remembrance what you have deposited (John 14:26), so make sure you are digging deep, so he has plenty from which to draw. As you focus on your Creator in the days of your youth, you prepare yourself for the coming evil days that lack the previous pleasures (Ecc. 12:1).
However and whenever your struggles do hit, endure through them. Be honest with God and with your spouse about the state of your life. Discern what is accurate and what is amplified due to an invalid comparison and an ungodly culture. Surround yourself regularly with other believers who can spur you on to love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24-25). Make it through one day at a time.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:4).
After you emerge from such a time of struggle, share your experiences after it. God uses these times to help you become steadfast. How could you watch a person enter into a storm that you just came out of without providing instructions on how to survive? Find those younger men and women in your life whom you can disciple and mentor through these challenging seasons. Proclaim God’s goodness during the younger years and the later years (Ps. 71:17).
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.