Mid-Life Crisis


When I told my Mom that I had bought myself a Mini Cooper for my birthday she joked that it was my “mid-life crisis”.  Excuse me?  Mid-life?  Crisis?!?!  I don’t know about you, but when I think of that phrase I picture a 55-year old man driving a red Ferrari with the top down, not a just-turned-37 year old woman driving a bright red Mini Cooper.  So no, Mom, I’m not having a mid-life crisis.

But, it got me thinking.  I looked it up online, and I’m told that the average American woman has a 79.10-years life expectancy.  So, if I double my age, that makes 74, which means I’m technically nearly at mid-life.  Okay, that’s interesting, and I’ll get back to it in a minute.

Now,  does my buying a Mini Cooper (for a whopping $21K) constitute a ‘crisis’?  Ah, no, I don’t think so.  If I had sold all my belongings, shaved my head, and run off to join the Hari Krishnas – maybe.  But buying a Mini Cooper does not a crisis make.  A few speeding tickets maybe, but that’s about it.

Back to the concept of mid-life.  You know, I think a lot (as I suspect most of us do) about where I am in life, what I’m doing, how my various relationships are working out, etc.  The fact is my life has turned out somewhat non-traditional.  Our culture, especially the Christian culture, dictates certain norms – one goes to college, gets married, has kids, buys a house, either has a career or stays home with the kids (thankfully women can now do either or both).  I went to college, then went to more college, then went to grad school, then more grad school…and in the meantime never found the time (nor, one could argue, the right guy) to get married and have kids.  I don’t own a home; in fact at the moment I live with one of my sisters and her husband (hey – they invited me, I’m no free-loader!).  Most of my belongings are currently in the garage in boxes.  Sometimes I need some help from my dad with money (if you know me you know that finances are not my strong suit).  And, here’s a shocker: I don’t even know that I want to get married and/or have my own children.  GASP! 

So, by the world’s standards (and again, that includes Christianity’s standards), I’ve not yet ‘made it’.  People tell me all the time that there’s “still time” (usually in reference to marriage and/or kids).  Those people aren’t trying to be mean, by any stretch, they’re just operating from inside that cultural norm I described above, the one I’ve managed (so far) to buck.  But you see, when I look at my  life, at the past 37 years, I see years and years of “made it!"  I went to 2 colleges and 2 graduate schools, collecting a bachelor's degree, 3 master's degrees in theology, and 75% of a PhD in New Testament Studies (the remaining 25% is slow in coming, but I’ll get there eventually).  I lived in Scotland for a year.  I studied for a summer in Israel.  I worked at awards shows while I lived in L.A., meeting tons of celebs and learning a lot about an industry I love.  I’ve made so many wonderful friends it’s almost absurd.  I’ve lived on both coasts and in “the middle” (which I vowed I would never do).

I am the auntie to the most amazing nephew in the world and had the incredible privilege to be an intricate part of my best friend’s kids’ lives for the past 6 years.  I’ve had my share of romance, some good, some bad.  Maybe there’s more to come, maybe not.  Here’s what I KNOW to be true: God created me as a whole being in Him. I am a creation of the living God, and that’s it.  I don’t need a husband and kids to complete me.  Now, I’ve seen some amazing marriages (my parents, my sisters, and some of my very best friends), and I applaud the lives they’ve built together.  Marriage is absolutely a sacred institution, and something that should be cherished.  I think we are created to be in relationships, be they marriages, friendships, families, whatever.  I am blessed by many God-given relationships.  They make me who I am, and that is more than ‘good enough’ by a long mile.

I may be in mid-life (or within a few years of it).  If so, that’s fine.  It’s been a great 37 years.  If they’ve been non-traditional, I’m better than ok with that.  I think it’s pretty awesome (or, as we from Boston would say, it’s wicked awesome).  What’s coming in the next 37?  I don’t know, but I’m excited to drive into them in my bright red (complete with white racing stripes) Mini Cooper.


3 replies
  1. Elsa
    Elsa says:

    Thanks for your honesty Jennifer.
    After thinking a lot this fall about what marriage is in Christianity this fall, because I live in Maine, I’ve come to think that the “norms” we have are really assumptions. When I pick up the Bible, I don’t find norms for married life described. Instead, I find an invitation to love — to love life in all its forms. So, I guess I’m starting to believe that that’s what we YCW give to our tradition. We push the assumed norms.
    Or maybe I’m justifying myself.

    Reply
  2. Vicki
    Vicki says:

    I believe some of our greatest models in the faith never got married–including that guy–oh what’s his name? Oh yeah. Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. I (and I think many other Christians these days) find it very strange that many Christians have decided that Christianity is synonymous with the nuclear heterosexual married family with kids. Paul called marriage a concession for those who can’t control their lust. We hear very little about marriage in the New Testament, and Old Testament marriage was largely about property exchange and political alliances.
    I am happily married, but I think our cultural and religious expectations for women to get married is simply non-Biblical. Jennifer, it’s clear to me as well that you’ve made it!

    Reply
  3. manda
    manda says:

    I think that I might understand how you feel and while I might not qualify for the “middle-aged” category yet, I have come to the same conclusions when similar assumptions of completion are laid upon my shoulders. And I think that I have a similar response to yours.
    The issue I have with my own response is that I think I sound defensive. And then I become resentful that I am defensive. Do you ever feel the same way?
    How do we assert/share our wholeness in Christ without being defensive?
    I really would welcome responses, please!

    Reply

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