Following my posts last week around the ‘quarter life crisis’ a reader got in touch and has given me permission to share their story:
I once asked a young person how her week had gone. She replied “Well my teacher told me off for talking but it wasn’t me that started it, it was the girl sitting in front. And then I didn’t get picked for the hockey team. And I’m tired of going to places where I don’t know anybody and I don’t know what to talk to them about”.In response I sent her a card not promising her that these things wouldn’t happen when she was a fully grown adult, but suggesting that it might become easier to deal with them. Because, while we get older, the truth is that the challenges we face as angst ridden teenagers never really go away. We start a new job and wonder how we will ever make friends and become comfortable there. We are accused of things that aren’t our fault but have no way of defending ourselves. We feel left out when we’re pretty sure our rightful place is on the inside.But maybe life is just lurching from one age related crisis to the other. In our early twenties we stand at what feels like the door to the world – study, travel, the promise of independence. Idealistic and wide-eyed, life is to be lived to the full. But the choices overwhelm us and fear can paralyse.By our thirties we realise that we’re living with the consequences of those choices. The person we really wish we had said yes to… or the dawning realisation that this was the person that we really should have said no to. The treadmill of a career that once promised so much but delivers so little. A niggling realisation that the black-and-white faith of our youth no longer has the answers to the various complicated shades of grey that life throws up – illness, redundancy, disappointment, regret.Beyond thirties I can’t speak from personal experience but observation tells me this: each new decade brings with it new challenges, new places to go where we don’t know anybody and we don’t know what to day, new people to get on the wrong side of. And although many have walked the path before us, we all have to make our own way through.From the sidelines I’m watching my recently retired father find his place in a new and very different world. News headlines are no longer the stuff of his in-tray; phone calls are more about DIY projects for his children and less about high profile decisions; emails more likely to offer the latest spam marketing deal than engage him in some complex policy discussion.So what are we to do with the lives that stretch out before us, with another age-related crisis lying in wait just around the next corner? There is a quote on the internet which suggests that the Chinese word for crisis has two characters. The first is “danger”. The second? “Opportunities”.The message is simple. Each crisis presents an opportunity to life live well, and to the full. For followers of Jesus, by grace each crisis presents an opportunity for the choices of our younger selves to be redeemed. He really does make everything beautiful in His time.