The first time I truly began to feel the pain of meaninglessness was December, 1989. As a precocious tenth grader, I was obsessed with the book, The Catcher in the Rye, and I began to write a narrative of my own thoughts in similar fashion. On the very first page of that journal I lamented the fact that I was fifteen, because I was "halfway to thirty." Even at that time, I understood that time is running out for everyone, including myself. Naturally, this was not a mid-life crisis at all. (If it were, I'd be dead by now, as I once mused at 18: "I can consider this year a mid-life crisis if I die at 36.") Rather, this is what I would call an existential crisis. In fact, a mid-life crisis is nothing more than an existential crisis in mid-life, but you can have one at any age!
In preparing for this post, I came across an interesting article which inspired me, and also inspired me to inspire you. Lawrence Yong gives us "Five Things To Keep in Mind Always". On the subject of time, he writes:
Why do we always picture ourselves living at the top half of the hourglass, where time is always slipping away?These sentiments uncover the exact science behind the so-called "mid-life crisis." A mid-life crisis, or any existential crisis, for that matter, is nothing more than discontentment over what God has given us. Instead of focusing on what we have, we are too busy focusing on what we do not have: we do not have our youth, we do not have our vibrant health and strength as we once did, and thus, we think we do not have our "whole life" ahead of us.
Instead, why don’t we imagine ourselves in the bottom half of the hourglass?
There, every minute is followed by another minute that comes pouring in. Every hour’s followed by another hour and everyday is just the first of many days to come.
Yet if we look closely, we will see something odd about that last one. In fact, I think it is the very reason why Lawrence's post gripped me. Technically, it's true: we don't have our whole life ahead of us. Some of it is, in fact, behind us. But we still have so much of life ahead of us! As Lawrence indicated, we need to place ourselves in the bottom half of that hourglass, looking up. Did you get that last part? Looking up.
"We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor 4:18).Some folks imagine when those grains of sand finally run out that there is nothing left. However those sands are simply the number of days that He has given to us to prepare for what's next. A mid-life crisis occurs when we focus on the sand, rather than what comes after the sand. In a sense, if we pictured ourselves on the bottom half, looking up, the sand is actually obstructing our view of God. As Christians, we should be trying to look beyond the sand so that we can see God at work through it all. We are told that one day, we will be able to see clearly (1 Corinthians 13:12).
The antidote to worrying that you may be wasting your life is simple: Don't. If you stop focusing on the life you could have had, you will have the clear vision to look ahead to see the life that you actually do have: the life God intended for you. So look up, my friends! We have all eternity ahead of us.
Striking the Set
Romanticizing the Past
Age and Idolatry