In normal circumstances a mid-life crisis is what happens to older balding businessmen when they realize all they’ve ever done in their life is earn a paycheck. You do not often think of having a mid-20s crisis, but I am in one right now. Maybe you have experienced this as well. I turned 25 a few months ago, and it was at this point that something was different in my life. The self-assuredness that I had in my cocky college years and early 20s suddenly started to break away. The further I get away from college, the more and more I realize I do not know or understand. I laugh at the guys in my office because a few are in their early 20s and think they know everything and believe there is an absolute for every situation. I laugh because I remember feeling the same way at that age.
Three years ago I graduated college, moved to a new city and started my career—the career I thought I would do and love forever, never thinking there would be a day when I didn’t enjoy what I started out to be so passionate about. It’s funny because I am talking like I’ve been working for 15 years or something. Something has happened in this mid-20s stage that has made me unsure about many things and caused me to question my identity to the core. I’m not sure what I really want to do with my life; I’m not really sure what I’m good at; and I’m not sure what to tell people having tough circumstance. I used to think that I could really help people and give them answers that would improve their life. Now, I’m the one looking for someone to give me answers. So far, the hunt has eluded me, and I’m not sure that’s all that bad.
When you first get out of college (especially a Christian college), encouragement surrounds you at every corner. People tell you how proud they are of you and talk of how bright the future is. People speak of how you will positively change the world in so many ways for all eternity. I feel like people set me up for failure by giving me false expectations of what the world was and how much impact I could have on it. I was expecting people to come to me with their problems and that I’d be able to give them these magical answers that would make life OK again. I was expecting to baptize hundreds of people in my lifetime because I was an evangelist! I was expecting to see changes in the neighborhood because of my presence! It sounds dramatic, but these are ideas that get pounded into you in college and then either get beat out of you by lack of results or fade away when you start working to earn a paycheck.
The last six months I have been faking my way through life and living for the paycheck. I was a pastor at a church whose motto was “Helping People Rediscover Life.” This was ironic because I haven’t even truly discovered life myself. I read more about life than I live it. I think more thoughts about God than talk to God. I know how to do the business of a church, but I still don’t know how to really pray for someone. I have gotten worn down and become an observer of life. I knew a few months ago that something had to change, but I did not have the guts to make the change because of fear of finances and security. God had other plans. Last week, I was asked to resign because my team didn’t see the passion and interest in what I was doing. To be honest, the uncertain future scares me, but it is exciting at the same time. It is exciting because for the first time in a year I feel like I am on track with God’s plan.
Now it is time to rediscover life. I feel like this rediscovery is taking place in my search for answers and not necessarily in the answers themselves. I think that by opening myself up to God and to the endless possibilities that this life offers, God will finally be able to do something with me and I will understand who I am and what I can contribute to God’s kingdom. I have let go of everything that is holding me back, and I am free to go where God wants me.
I know that many readers might be in the same situation, and I hope that you accept this same challenge—to discover the fullness of life that Jesus speaks of and to take a risk by putting your life in the hands of God so you can truly live. In realizing that we don’t have a great understanding of God and His ways, I feel like I am finally beginning to get the point. It’s not about security or having all the answers, it’s about a trusting relationship with God. An active, two-sided relationship with the Creator. The more I read the Psalms, the more I understand the tension that naturally arises out of a close relationship with God. If you read David without knowing who he is, you would think that he is depressed, on the down and out and has been abandoned by God at times. But the focus is the fact that in light of his circumstances, he’s placing himself into the hands of God and completely trusting.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Be still and know that I am God.” —Psalm 46: 1-3, 10
The decisions we make will prove to those around us and to ourselves if God is worthy of our trust. I never saw a follower of Jesus in the Gospels living for security but rather for the adventure with the good and bad that come with it. God has finally gotten me to the point where I feel like I am ready to experience the adventure. I don’t want to be an observer of life anymore … I want to live it.
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