Aging During Mid-life is a Spiritual Crisis
“Everything that lives is in the process of dying…This world and everything that lives in it will pass away.” David Trump
Summer and its intensive humidex-factor has been a challenge for me this summer…Arthritis as never been so intense, feet and articulations swelling, depriving me of my normal abilities for long walks…anemia and the decrease of energy…difficulty with digestion were part of other sneaking sings of my mid-life journey… I am sure you must recognize yourself…in those everyday life adjustments that can increase your level of anxiety in this life transition.
Our physical invincibility - what we thought to be invincible, is now an illusion…chronic ackes, gray hair are wake-up calls to a reality we desperately try to avoid at all cost: the universal awareness of death. Indeed, all our being is crying desperately for a savior that could save us from this dreadful passage to the grave. We were called to live; people were not supposed to die. Our sin leads us to it, but it wasn’t the All Mighty’s intention.
When we were young, it was the last thing on our mind; we felt eternal… until death robbed us of a loved one or a friend. As a matter of fact remember how we’ve once been abusive of our health…impossible schedules (between work, family, leisure, relationships…) We did not pay so much attention about what and how much we eat; how much sleep to get; or the amount of stress we accumulated…until the sneaky signs appeared…and yet, we still ignored them…until activities we once did are impossible for us…the food we once enjoyed, we can no longer consume….Mid-life changes our way of seeing life…
Aging…in a western civilized culture that focuses on physical body and on leisure.
Pay attention to the medias, magazines and advertising… “Appearance is everything… be more muscular, beautiful and youthful!” Millions of dollars are spent yearly on cosmetic surgery procedures, on cosmetics, and on physical fitness… It as now become an obsession… Check this link for yourself and find out…!
These procedures are not necessarily done by Hollywood stars only, by the way but average people like you and me. When you reach mid-life, visualizing yourself with wrinkles, overweight and having chronic illnesses…we dread this reality…. In underdeveloped countries, where people have no clue as to how they will find the food for their health and a roof above their head; we on the side of the world dread about our physical appearances and our self-esteem!
Aging is also a dread in a culture where we now shift from a work-based culture to a leisure-based culture to which we identify ourselves. We no longer work for the purpose of contributing in building a better community for all to live in – sharing our talents and gifts; we work to satisfy our cravings.
As an outcome: We become individualistic.(Our goal is focused on our self rather than on the community)
“Individual satisfaction kin of life culture curses all life experiences that are painful, difficult – intolerant to all painful, discomforting and embarrassing physical changes of mid-life.” “If I love eating: I will curse having to watch what I eat; the fact that I’m no longer able to physically do what I once did; that evidences of old age are harder to hide.!”
“The world is wasting away …the best is yet to come…what our senses cannot touch are beyond our control…Yet...nothing material is worth living for…without faith in real afterlife this first part of St-Paul’s statement is for you.
Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being reviewed day by day. 2 Cor. 4:16
Physical aging becomes a spiritual crisis in mid-life
The popular media projects thoughts, desires and expectations and their impact influences to the point of becoming social cultural norms – whether they are realistic or not. You will recognize some of them:
“Stay young” “Appearance is everything.” Science and environmental studies want to make us gobble that we are only a biological product of our environment and that our experience made us; that our body is caused and controlled by biochemical processes only.” These realities are not entirely false, but misleading as it destroys the inner-person in you; we are not just physical human beings.
The outcome of such philosophies can be discouraging for mid-lifers as they reinforce the weaknesses of our ageing and weakening bodies.
We must regain our Heart.
Life is found in God and not in physical goods. We must seek for security, for love in our relationship and communion with HIM. Creation will not sustain our need for life, for hope and for love. It’s an illusion. “Behind every powerful physical thing stands the God of Glorious Power.”
Aging in Mid-life - Why this painful journey into mid-life?
a)It’s an opportunity to confront our obsessions…Whether you believe it or not you have material attachments: whether your physical appearance or health; whether your material goods. Maybe you find security having a roof above your head and in money; maybe it’s technology…or too much leisure.
Material goods are:
i) Impermanent (decay, grow old, wears out, falls apart)ii) Are deceptive (They cannot give me what I’m looking for.)iii) Enslaving (Try to convince me that I cannot do without)iv) Impersonal - Worship to God means to enter in a spirit to Spirit relationship with Him; a communion.
b) God will never accept to have anything else that will hurt us to take His place in our heart… He wants to have the full attention in your heart… (asking us to surrender any need of control as this was never meant for us; knowing what is in our best interest)
c) Out of love God will do everything necessary to reclaim our wandering hearts…he doesn’t want to lose us. He will fight for us, even if it means shaking us and unsettling us…
I would like to conclude with this quote from J. Roberston McQuilken from the book of PhilipYancey entitled Where is God when it Hurts? "...god has planned the strength and beauty of youth to be physical. But the strength and beauty of age is spiritual. We gradually lose the strength and beauty that is temporary so we'll be sure to concentrate on the strength and beauty which is forever. It makes us more eager to leave behind the temporary, deteriorating part of us and be truly homesickfor our eternal home. It we stayed young and strong and beautiful, we might never want to leave."
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MidLife and the Grace of God by Paul David Tripp, Shepherd Press PO Box 24 Wapwallopen, PA 18660 Copyright 2004
Holy Bible (Catholic Edition) The New Revised Standard Version - Catholic Bible Pressa division of THomas Nelson Publishers National Conference of Catholic Bishops Washington, DC Copyright 1993.
Where is God When it Hurts? by Philip Yancey,Copyright 1990,1997 by Philip Yancey, Zondervan, Grand Rapids,Michigan 49530, p. 255
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