As many of you will know, I turned 40 yesterday, marking the start of another decade of my life. I was touched by the many good wishes I received and was also struck by the number of people who asked me with genuine concern how I felt, as if this anniversary might have troubled me in some way. It got me thinking . . .
The term ‘midlife crisis’ was coined in 1965 by Elliott Jaques, a Canadian psychoanalyst, describing that point in life when you realize that time is flying by and you’re no spring-chicken any longer. You remember that there were things you actually wanted to do with your life and like anyone with an approaching deadline who has left it a bit late, you lurch into action. Major, and often rash, life changes ensue as you seek to make up for ‘lost time’. Classic examples of men buying motorbikes and having extramarital affairs spring to mind – but for most I suppose it is a period of deep questioning about what they want to do with their lives. I think this is why people keep asking!
But genuinely, I have been unmoved. I’ve joked before that I already had my midlife crisis – trading the security and prospects I had at IBM for an unsalaried position with a Christian TV station and dragging my family off to live on a Mediterranean island. Sounds pretty drastic and maybe it was – I don’t know really. But what I can say is that at this time, in the words of my friend Mike Gladwell, I’m ‘living the dream’.
- I am so grateful for my family. For Ellie and the kids. I always wanted to have a family young and to still be young(ish) when they were growing up. I remember that a lot of my friends thought us crazy getting married at 23 and having kids soon after (someone even infamously described it as ‘a waste of a life’). Yes, we probably had a few less skiing holidays in our 20s, but look at this lot!
- When I was a kid I always wanted to serve God with my life. I loved books like God’s Smuggler, Chasing the Dragon and the Cambridge Seven about people who gave up everything they had to pursue what they cared about, people who had experienced God’s love and wanted to share it with others. And, although I’m no Jackie Pullinger, I’m doing it. That’s not to say I wasn’t serving God at IBM or at University or at school – I suppose what I mean is that I feel as though I’m in the right place at this time.
- And also – although I don’t suppose that this is something that I can say I knew I wanted, I’ve experienced God in my life. In him I am content. I’ve got nothing to prove to anyone. If you’re still reading this and you’re not a Christian – you might think that I have somehow lost my mind, that I have traded the truth of science for the lie of religion (although anyone who knows me knows that I love science). But I suppose I have to concede that you might be right – after all, if I am completely deluded how would I be able to tell? But think of it like this – as my insightful friend Chris Adlard once said “if Christianity is a lie, it’s the best lie you could ever believe”. If it’s a lie, it’s one that encourages us to treat others well, to forgive, to help each other, to be family to one another; as delusions go, it’s a pretty good one.
Yes – at 40, I can honestly say that I’m happy and fulfilled and doing the things that I always dreamt of doing, that I’m giving my life to something that is of worth. Thanks for your friendship and support – and if you think I am deluded, please don’t spoil the next 40 years by trying to cure me 🙂