Them Midlife Blues

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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If you think adolescence is a crazy time, try midlife. Last month, not one but two top journalists publicly dive-bombed their careers; and, not coincidentally, both were at that awkward age when gray hairs and wrinkles don’t guarantee good sense.

The first journalist, an award-winning writer in a premier newspaper market, went sour when his professional reporting turned to personal jabs. His initial columns on the subject made good points; but the points got progressively personal and good journalism got lost. His editors told him to tone it down, but the venom continued and it eventually cost him his job.

Meanwhile, back near the farm, a rural newspaper writer used his forum to blast leaders of a local school district. Though his early reports raised awareness, some readers not-unreasonably pointed out that the reporter was also a former employee of that school district. Legitimate news writing gave way to slanted attacks and an otherwise good reporter was back writing his resume. Having personally experienced midlife’s inner conflicts, when I look at these journalists I see myself. In retrospect, I’ve discovered that the heart of churning midlife discontent is over-emphasis on me. This is still painful and embarrassing to admit. The more emotional or indignant I became, the more I translated life’s normal give-and-take into personal affronts.

But the Christian life flies in the face of any brand of self-absorption. From the Golden Rule’s “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” to the crucifixion—"He saved others but he can't save himself!"—Christians learn from Christ that we live first for others.

From my own knowledge and the occasional morality play in the media, I know that subtle decisions to do to others as they do to you or to desperately try to save myself while ignoring others destroys the Christian life. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:26–28)

I can’t help the two journalists with their job hunts, but I can offer some advice to those of you in the midst of the sometimes-frustrating forties: Self-absorption blinds you to reality. And the reality paradox is that we actually lose our lives to find them.

Questions for discussion:

  • Is Christianity self-centered, other-centered, or both?
  • Do you spend more time praying for yourself or others?