Not going to lie: I find the flaps of skin on my arms and the line etching itself into my forehead (that looks just like my mother’s) a bit concerning. Middle age snuck up on me like my husband likes to sneak up on me in the kitchen and pinch my rear.
All of a sudden, I’m here.
A part of me is elated, and a part of me is petrified.
What if I am more than halfway through my life?
Is this why the phrase “midlife crisis” was coined? Why men with sprinkles of white in their mustaches slink around car dealerships looking for the shining red muscle car? Why some veer a bit further and look for the other shiny things? Is this why movies like Under the Tuscan Sun and Eat Pray Love were so popular with brunettes turned blondes by necessity? Or why women of a certain age start noticing things like droopy necks and researching things like insoles?
The Reality of the Middle Years
The other day, it did hit me that I am, in fact, here. Gone are the days of dewy skin and all-night ragers. Here are the days of eye cream and sun shirts and waking up at 7 am on Saturdays. As humorous (or devastating) as this all sounds or is for those who are right here with me, there are some amazing things that are revealing themselves in middle age, too.
So, for all of my younger counterparts with the middle parts, here is a list of gems I’ve discovered while digging in the dirt of the aging process as I balance on the precipice of the downward climb.
1. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks
I told a friend recently: “When I turned forty, I finally felt like I stepped into myself.”
Unapologetically, unselfconsciously: As you get older, you realize that it doesn’t matter what they think. Time is short. Life is meant to be lived authentically; the only person we need to answer to is God. When it is looked at this way, we are free to wear those flowing dresses and chop our hair off and laugh (or cry) in public or on socials and do that thing that’s always been on our hearts to do.
2. You can change directions
Another thing about middle age is that there is still a road ahead and time to try something new. I recently wrote and published my first book at age 41. This was something I dreamed of doing and knew was part of my purpose but didn’t have the opportunity to do until later in life. Instead of throwing in my pen or believing that the opportunity was gone as the years rolled on, I decided to go all in.
3. It’s okay to rest
One of my favorite weekend activities is napping with my plush purple blanket and a book. I read until my eyes get heavy, then set my reading glasses down and nestle in. I wake up to a cup of tea and my kids’ snuggles. A decade ago, I may have used this time to clean the house, rake the yard, start a nonprofit, or do any number of other things that took energy (usually, more energy than I had). Now, I view rest as a lavish necessity. One my body and mind need and have earned.
4. God has a plan
When you’ve got more life to look back over (Lord, have mercy on my early twenties), there is more time to appreciate. It becomes even more evident the way the care of God has shown up in our lives. The trials, joys, heartaches—all of it—pieces of a holy puzzle that God knew from the beginning. He has lovingly positioned each experience in the right place at the right time. Age gives us perspective to see the beauty of the whole picture.
5. It’s not a downward climb at all, but an expansive place
Aging and middle age aren’t the beginning of some end. It’s not what society tells us is something to run from. Middle age isn’t just a (scary) place where all of a sudden you need to budget for Botox injections or micro-needling (although, this might be helpful).
The middle years can be a season where we slip into something comfortable (meaning ourselves), and rest in the plan God has had for our lives all along. A plan to have joy and hope and purpose. The sacred duty of loving and being loved. The important task of showing the younger generations, despite their septum piercings and crop tops, that there is beauty in aging. It isn’t a crisis—it’s part of the human experience and one that can be walked with grace.
“Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
If you’re questioning your purpose in this stage of life, you’ll find some insightful advice in this podcast episode: Do You Know Your Purpose? It May Surprise You! – 193