The Gift of the Middle Years

The sunrise is the glorious announcement of something new, a new opportunity for joy, for birth, for creativity, for relationship, for love. As the sun stretches its arms of color across the horizon, gradually exchanging pastel hues of a sleepy dawn for the solid gold of day, the night is left behind. Even at times the memory of the darkness is gone. Only the expectant future, pregnant with promise, remains.

To run along the horizon at morn, to dance with the dawn, to explode with the joy of a future that leaves the past in the past is one of the greatest habits of mind and heart that we can develop. God gives us the opportunity to practice these habits day after day, for we can touch the sunrise every 24 hours and the possibility of joy is there again.

When we reach the “middle” years of our life, however, the dark of the night can overtake even the hope that there will be a dawn. Some of the hopes and dreams of the younger years, the expectations of how we thought our life would turn out, eventually begin to sour, no matter what efforts we put into them. As the years pass and we experience both life’s joys and bitter disappointments we realize at last that some of what we hoped for won’t happen, and sometimes it won’t happen because of decisions we ourselves have made. We begin to replay the messy events of the past, choices we made, sins and mistakes that weren’t really us, but there they are. We did them and now we can’t get away from them, even if we are the only ones who know about them. We look at them again and again because we can’t forgive ourselves for what we’ve done, and we fear that perhaps God hasn’t either.

We are primed to label any angst that we feel after 40 as a “crisis,” and the very special kind of crisis we have come to call “the midlife crisis.” Calling these wonderful middle years of life a “crisis” is a problem. Even just the word crisis makes me cringe, shut-down, withdraw in fear like a turtle pulling its head into its shell in the presence of danger.

In these transitional years between past and future, instead, I believe we are longing for something more: more prayer, more relationship with God, more family, more tenderness, more life, more peace, more trust…. Always “more.”

I admire how “sneaky” God is. At this time of our life, many wish they had prayed more, or that they had a better relationship with God. They want “more” of God, of spirit, of joy. They look back and think this feeling of guilt about how “little” they prayed and loved God is a condemnation of how deficient they were when they were younger. It is God coming closer, getting your attention, almost yelling to you, “YOU WANT MORE!” You can have more. Remember that in your younger years you did the best you could with what you had. And no matter what you did, it became a step to where you are now. So be here where you are now. If you want more spirituality and prayer, then take more NOW!

It was when I was in my early forties that I started having the scary thought, “Time is running out. The clock is ticking. I’m running out of time.” It was the gentle wake-up notice, and the beginning of many years of reassessing what my life had been, stabilizing what my life had become, and looking forward to a newer, gradually wiser vision of what I wanted the rest of my life to be. Today I am in my mid-fifties. The journey between the first wake-up call, through the midnight of deep disappointment with my life and myself, and on to a healing that brought closure to the guilt-ridden regrets has been long and difficult and blessed! It is for this reason that it is impossible for me to speak of a midlife crisis. I can’t even bring myself to see it as a midlife opportunity. Instead it is a midlife Gift. I am utterly in awe of the beautiful place God has brought me to…and it was all because I had to face where I had been, where I had fallen short, what I wish I had and hadn’t done in the first half of life.

This journey became my book that is releasing September: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments. 

This book is offered as a guide through whatever journey of self-questioning and regret God is taking you on now in your life. It will help you to:

  1. Step back, ease up, and take a walk through your inner space, a walk that is gentle, casual, and tender.
  2. Touch aspects of your history, of your soul, of your heart that you may not have had access to for a long time. By just being with all this, new doors will open. The regrets that sometimes assail us in mid-life and beyond are painful to process but ultimately good. We see how we have received God’s grace in our life and how we have fallen away. But the marvelous thing is this: we still have time. We have time to change. We have time for something new to come about in our lives. It is all mercy. It is all grace!
  3. Pray with scripture in a way that will help you deepen your intimacy with Jesus and your trust in God. Scripture shows us that it is when we encounter the Face of God, the gaze of Jesus, that our struggle ends.

Sound interesting? I’d love to share more with you. Join me for a 5-day free email series with exclusive meditations and exercises. God doesn’t want us to be bound by our past. He wants us to touch the sunrise again and again. I love the prayer of Zechariah at the birth of John the Baptist and it is my wish for you:

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

May you once again touch the sunrise.

Sr. Kathryn

Regret Promo 01-3

2 thoughts on “The Gift of the Middle Years

  1. Great working. And helpful. Thank you! I’m in my nearly-70 crisis but feel like I’m 50! Except a *little* wiser! But getting bullied at work. But also only 2k away from out of a 15 year debt! 🙂 I’d like your book, (your prayers) and the emails. 🙂 Sue

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  2. Well, I hope I’m signed up for both – to receive the book (2 chapters). And the email series. I’d like your book, (your prayers) and the emails. 🙂 Blessings to you. Sue

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