How to survive (or thrive through) midlife crisis
When you reach a certain age in life you might experience a crashing transition of identity, purpose and self-confidence, often referred to as a midlife crisis. This phenomenon is described as a psychological crisis brought about by events that highlight a person’s growing age, inevitable mortality, and possible lack of accomplishments in life. This may produce feelings of intense depression, remorse, and high levels of anxiety. Along with this may also be the desire to achieve youthfulness, make drastic changes to one’s current lifestyle or wish to change past decisions and events. The experience of Covid19 pandemic might intensify this painful experience even more. So how does one survive a midlife crisis? You can dye your hair, buy a motorcycle or a boat, travel the world… or you can take more fiscally affordable approach and actually thrive though the experience.
This weekend’s Gospel bring us a ray of hope and encouragement to see our transitional experience as an opportunity for growth and maturity, rather than “crisis”. It’s a paradigm shift from the “me, myself and I” focus to seeing our life, mission and purpose from God’s perspective. “You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last…” John 15:16
Being chosen, being appointed gives us a purpose of belonging to something more than ourselves. Anthony J. Gittins, CSSP reflects on it as our participation in God’s mission: “We are talking about God’s mission, long before we begin to talk about the church’s mission or the mission of any ecclesial institution – and certainly long before we presume to talk personally about “my mission”. The Latin phrase for God’s mission is Missio Dei: “the (eternal) mission of God. (…) God’s activity, God’s mission – the Missio Dei – is dynamic in nature, not static, but also a continuous, never-ending process rather than a single historic event.”
The mission, Missio Dei, is a significant part of my understanding of oblation and living the charism of St. Eugene. My personal life and Oblate ministry focus on the importance of discernment and constantly asking what God’s will is when making a particular decision. It’s not always easy to discover or clearly name what direction God wants me to take; but it is certainly a journey taken in faith. It certainly shines the light on the moments of “crisis” in order to transform them into opportunities to grow and mature.
Taking to the heart Jesus’ words, “You did not choose me but I chose you; and I appointed you,” helps us to see our life as an answer to God’s call, our vocation. Vocational lifestyle is Christ-centered by definition. After all, understanding the vocational culture helps us all to respond to God’s calling in a variety of ways. Vocation is about building relationship with Christ and being his co-workers and co-operators in a path of life uniquely and divinely designed for each of us. Embracing your vocation will help you to survive, or rather thrive through, a midlife crisis!
By Jarek Pachocki, OMI