Wednesday, June 11, 2014

In the Middle

I am fifty-five years old.
There, I’ve said it.
Fifty-five to stay alive

I am finding my fifties to be an interesting time of transition.
I am no longer young.
I don’t feel that I am old.
I am in the middle – middle age, Middle Earth, stuck in the middle with you, Malcolm in the Middle

I know people in my age group who are trying very hard to stay young – dress young, act young, appear young, talk young, get surgery, get tattoos, get twitter accounts and try to keep up with technology. It’s not working. Be your age; act your age; be who you are and not who you aren’t.

I also know people in my age group who are trying very hard to be old – dress old, act old, appear old, talk old, settling in to lethargy and retirement. They let their devices blink 12:00. They begin most sentences with “In my day,” or “When I was young.” They are either ultra-conservative or ultra-liberal. They think that everyone who doesn’t agree with them on every issue is either stupid or trying to destroy our world. Be your age. You are not dead yet. Be open to listen to other people with different ideas.

This transition period of my life has probably been intensified because we recently moved to a small community and things have slowed down. We had been living in Phoenix and I had been an associate pastor a large, multi-site church (around 5000 attendees). We now live in a Northern California town of about 5000 and I pastor a small church with under 100 attendees.

It is definitely a time of transition.

We love this community and this church. We love our home and our view of the lake. We love this time of our lives. We love our kids and our grandkids, although we don’t see them as much as we would like. We don’t love that our bodies are getting older and that they don’t bounce back as quickly.

I don’t want to try to act younger than I am. I don’t want to try to build a shallow enthusiasm and make a lot of noise that builds to a lot of action that reaps no significant changes in people’s lives. I don’t want to try to dress young, act young and talk young. I want to act my age and minister people of different ages.

I don’t want to try to act older than I am. I don’t want to just wait for retirement and escape from society and culture. I want to be aware of my surroundings. I want to listen to different ideas. I want to continue to live a life of significance.

The strength of youth is enthusiasm. The strength of age is wisdom.
The weakness of youth can be living to please others.
The weakness of old age can be not giving a flip what others think.

I want to maintain enthusiasm and walk in wisdom. I do not want to live to please others, but I do want to continue to serve others and to not isolate myself. I pray that I will find the correct balance at this time in my life and walk in joy and peace in the midst of a different type of storm.

I remember when my Dad was teaching me how to drive and he said something like, “Slow down as you are going into the curve and speed up as you are coming out of the curve.” This time of transition in my life is a curve. I am trying to slow down, look around, listen, be aware of my surroundings and to go through the turn. I am praying to see through the turn, receive new vision, reorient to the other side of the curve and live wisely before I begin to speed up.

The bear went up the hill to see what was on the other side and he saw another hill. I don’t want to go back and I don’t want to settle on the top of the hill. I want to go wisely and at the right speed. There is still much to do, much to see, many to meet and growth to be experienced.

The journey continues