9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
I’m approaching middle age…tiptoeing up and peering under the door and wondering over it. But, chances are, when the door swings open it’s going to look a lot like where I’m standing now. Identical living room and life with different messes in the middle.
People talk about middle age like it’s the Middle Ages with plagues and pitfalls and drudgery with no enlightenment in sight. And I understand this. Because up until then we’ve been crashing through life, conquering one milestone after another: school, more school, jobs, more jobs, single living, married living, kids. And then there’s the long slow deep breath that is middle age where mostly it is all still the same, but a longer stretch.
This, I think, is why the “midlife crisis” is a thing. People aren’t good at the long stretches, the pacing in the middle where you can’t sprint and can’t see the finish line. It wears on a soul. Because we were made for change. It’s why we have seasons and day and night and apples in autumn and strawberries in summer. We like variety.
Perhaps though, middle age is the most like faith. Faith is, as we know, believing in what we cannot see and certainly cannot always feel. Jesus is not actually here, holding our hands, and so we must continue to do the good He calls us to without direct feeback. Paul knew those early Christians were getting tired of “doing good” without Jesus to high five them. He grew tired himself. There’s a lot of downtime in prison where Paul often found himself and he was a mover and a shaker. I’m sure the stillness wore on him.
It’s the daily life that gets you. The sameness. Year 38 in the desert. Day 127 of the flood. It’s easy to get restless and to want to look around for something to DO. But perhaps the thing to do is just to keep living and tending to the life God has given you. This is what I keep coming back to–me the person who cannot sit still. The harvest is not ready yet, and so I must continue on, pulling the weeds up here and there and waiting and watching and tilling and turning the soil that is already there. This is my land. I know the itch to move on to something new, a hill I cannot see but can imagine as better will come. But I’m living for a harvest right here where God has put my roots.
Again, I must go back to The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. In it, Screwtape advises Wormwood on using time to wear down a soul:
The Enemy has guarded him from you through the first great wave of temptations. But, if only he can be kept alive, you have time itself for your ally. The long, dull, monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather. You see, it is so hard for these creatures to persevere. The routine of adversity, the gradual decay of youthful loves and youthful hopes, the quiet despair (hardly felt as pain) of ever overcoming the chronic temptations with which we have again and again defeated them, the drabness which we create in their lives and the inarticulate resentment with which we teach them to respond to it—all this provides admirable opportunities of wearing out a soul by attrition.
It IS so hard for us creatures to persevere…to not let the weight of time drag us down. I find sanctuary in the details. It’s not a desert we live in. God will give us growth in unexpected places and newness too. Every day is different, whether we choose to see it or not. New friends have come in to my life. New creative endeavors. New needs from my children and my husband and myself. We are all not standing still. Thank God. The middle years offer so much promise we cannot yet see. There’s a world of richness under there if we can just wait alittle longer for the harvest.
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A big thank you from Jamie on The Mom Gene!