It’s my birthday on Monday. Birthdays tend to make me contemplative.
I find myself evaluating the last year of my life, considering the highs and lows.
There was one birthday in particular in my late 20s/early 30s where I had a bit of a breakdown. I wondered what in the world I had accomplished thus far in life, and where in the world was I going? In truth, I wasn’t happy in my ministry at that time. Plus I had gone on a slew of bad dates and decided to take a break. I had this moment of thinking that I’ve accomplished nothing and I’m unhappy and I’m going to be alone forever (who wants to date a minister, honestly?!), and why is everything so hard?!? (You know, the internal wrestling we may have from time to time). Except this resulted in a birthday breakdown.
Thankfully I have a brilliant mother. She happened to be teaching a psychology class at the time at the middle school and high school where she taught (mostly history) for decades. When I confided my frustrations she told me about Daniel Levinson’s views of human development. Seriously. Over birthday cake here was Debbie teaching me some psychology. Anyway, Levinson theorized that at each stage of the journey through pre-adulthood, early adulthood, midlife, middle adulthood, and late adulthood there are developmental patterns people undergo. There are questions people ask and attempt to resolve. Each stage has particular transitions.
As I glanced at my mom’s notes (she sent those to me later) I could read that the Age 30 Transition (ages 28-33) is characterized by a period of reassessment, evaluation, and introspection according to Levinson. People ask questions about their life choices being on the right track. These questions could result in the reaffirmation of one’s goals and choices OR could lead to significant changes. Then I saw the * in my mother’s neat cursive: *”Especially challenging for women: characterized by turmoil/questioning. Questioning revolves around marriage/family or vocational advancement.”
Yes. I thought. This is it. This is it precisely. And it made me feel so much better!
We often emphasize at our church that each of us is on our own individual faith journeys. They don’t all look the same. It’s the same with our journeys in life.
Though it may help to know that other people are asking similar questions when we find ourselves in a life transition. We aren’t alone when we reassess and find ourselves feeling introspective, wondering about our life’s goals and choices we make along the way.
Life is truly a gift from God. I often say that in worship around the time when we take up the offerings for our church, and it’s not some trite phrase to me. I really mean it.
Life is a gift. Yes, even those moments of transition in life are a gift.
I am thankful to be with you on the journey.
*Oh, and thanks, mom, love you.