Making Peace with Midlife — at the Movies

When something’s on your mind, ever notice how you begin to observe it in spades? When being single was un-welcomed, it seemed everyone was holding hands. Looking for a new car,  the unique model I “discovered” suddenly was everywhere. When I make something a priority, it flavors my days and sharpens my awareness.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we always had God at the forefront… and lived with our senses wide open to the perspective of the One who made us?  We would see wonderful sights, hear wonderful sounds, meet wonderful people … and be happy to return home to tell Him all about our experiences.

IMG_1022The theme I’ve been writing about — the change,  joy and abundance of life’s second half, and God’s purposes for us in it — is no exception. He’s been constantly challenging my earthbound foreboding to be mastered by His Kingdom outlook on midlife. There’s nothing new under the sun, but we each get to personally experience life afresh. All roads lead back to Jesus.

Recently Rob and I saw “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” In the movie, an eclectic group relocates to vibrant India to stretch their Euros in retirement. The resident hotel they choose is more rundown and unorthodox than ever imagined, but the quirky communal living serves to positively transform each guest. They embrace relationships, love and life, as they let go of the past. Familiar ideas. My review: Entertaining and cute with a quite few belly laughs.

IMG_0933One hotel guest is being courted by two men. As they approach a “T” in the road where the paths to her suitors’ homes diverge, her driver always asks, “Left or right, Madame?” She often struggles with her answer.

Finally, she asks the driver, wise beyond his years, how he makes very difficult decisions. He answers, “I don’t think they exist, Madame. When you toss a coin, you always know which side you want it to land on.”

We scheduled a 5th anniversary trip for this summer. Travel together has proven to offer more than enjoyment. God’s voice overwhelms the urgency of the world when we steal away. Nevertheless, circumstances caused us to consider canceling; it’s probably the judicious thing to do. After prayers and mulling over it for weeks, I suggested we flip a coin.

imgres-1We secretly wrote down how we were hoping the coin would “land.” Seems we did have an unrealized preferences; we both voted yes! No coin needed. Carpe diem, (remember Dead Poet’s Society?) is sometimes the best choice regardless of conventional reason. Midlife seems to afford us more space to explore what’s beneficial in His eyes and to make choices that expand us — as God created us to be.

We also saw two trailers suggesting this suddenly-everywhere theme. The first was “The Age of Adaline,” a new movie in which a car accident magically gives immortality to a young woman born at the turn of the century. She never wants to fall in love, because it’s no fun if you don’t grow old together… hmmm.

IMG_0338It prompted me to ask Rob (who sweetly indulges my endless, silly games), “If you could go back to any age and remain there forever, what would it be? Before you answer, there’s a catch — you will always have both the body and mind (wisdom and experience) you had at that time, with no aging or growth.” (I diplomatically told him he didn’t have to consider when we met).

We independently decided we would refuse the tempting deal. We value the wisdom and growth of the passing years more highly than youthful vitality. Job 12:12 says “Wisdom is with aged men, With long life is understanding.” Wisdom increases geometrically with time — especially for a Christian.  James 3:17 “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” Talk about something to look forward to!

The question is, am I living in acknowledgment of the increasing good and perspective each year brings?  Or am I lamenting all that is lost? I loved being young: especially being mom to growing children. And I want to respect my body. However in light of the adult journeys of our awesome, independent children (and our newly defined relationships) and my own good health,  I’ve given the circumstances of this stage more grief than they’re due.

More significantly,  I want to live fully celebrating my life’s present potential and all that God just keeps making better! Gratitude is my new best friend, as we’re becoming more deeply acquainted.

IMG_1513The other trailer was for “While We’re Young,” a movie about a listless middle-aged couple hanging out with hipsters in their early 20s. Some adventures were admittedly out there, but like the colors, connections and celebrations portrayed in our movie, the overall concept appealed and felt transforming in a good way. We were enlivened as we left the theatre.

Rob and I recently spent an evening with my daughter and her boyfriend. It proved invigorating and energizing in a hard-to-express, but different way than our normal night out.

No matter what sprightly people we encounter — it’s useful and inspiring to hang with younger folks — and fully breathe in the experience. In Matthew 18:3 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Sometimes we need to be reminded how to be like little children.

Positano, Itlay
Positano, Itlay

Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there’s “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”  My prayer is that God opens my heart to His presence in all my being. I don’t want to deny the sadness of this season or to miss the fresh joys, but to honestly embrace His promise and purpose in the newness of each day.

Now you’ve got my feet on the life path,
    all radiant from the shining of your face.
Ever since you took my hand,
    I’m on the right way.” (Psalm 16:11 MSG)

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9 thoughts on “Making Peace with Midlife — at the Movies

  1. Love your post and loved talking with you Louise. Sweet reminder to remain present in every moment, the happy the sad, it’s all good. Thanks for sharing.

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