How does a middle-aged, single, Christian guy dealing with same-sex attraction (SSA) embark upon and survive a midlife crisis? My next series of posts will tell my midlife crisis story.
When I was in my mid-forties, I found myself in a somewhat stagnant place in life. I had been at the same job for twenty years and actually sat in the same desk for fifteen of those years. I had also been in the same church for those twenty years and had many friends.
However, most of my friends started drifting away because of the demands of their wives, their children, their careers, and their big mortgages.
I realized then that my main goals in life were to remain safe and comfortable. I accomplished this by accumulating more and more money.
With all this safety and comfort, however, I actually felt less happy and more unsettled. My anxiety centered around the knowledge that I was “burying my talents,” to use Jesus’ analogy.
In other words, my goals were all wrong. I was not accomplishing what really mattered.
It was clear that I was selfishly living an easy life that didn’t help anyone else and did little or no eternal good.
I felt trapped. If I left my nice job and nice house, I would not have the easy life I craved. I hated my stagnation but was too afraid to do anything about it.
But then something changed my life.
A friend’s son was having trouble with his high school chemistry and algebra courses, and I volunteered to tutor him and his classmate. These kids had Christian parents and went to a Christian school, but I soon realized their hearts were far from God. They passed their classes and graduated, but not before they introduced me to the dark side of their Christian school.
I saw serious needs among these Christian school kids, and I decided to do whatever I could to point them to Jesus Christ. Little did I know, that decision would completely change my life in dramatic ways!
Have you experienced a midlife — or “quarter-life” — crisis? How have you responded when your life hit stagnation and you saw a need for drastic change?
My midlife crisis hit when I had my stroke. In an instant my whole life had been impacted. I could not longer go to school, the a animation studies were lost to me; I couldn’t even flip an egg without becoming hysterical.
I was going through PTSD. Still, I adjusted. I had to learn new ways of doing things. Most importantly I came back to God. A lot of my so-called friends abandoned me because I suddenly became a Jesus Freak.
Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I started writing a blog to detail my journey out of homosexuality. It was supposed to be personal, just a diary. I had not expected anybody was reading it. Then I found the readership tracking tab: it had gotten (at last count) 10,000 hits, and counting.
Sometimes a change happens that serves God’s purpose. It beats sitting on your butt playing video games !
Bradley, it was an intensely painful experience that brought you to your crisis. I wouldn’t wish that on you or anyone else! Still, I thank God that you did turn to him in desperation and he changed your life completely.
You have a purpose for living now! Keep worshipping and thanking God. He has shown you so much love!
When I hit my midlife crisis, I wanted to make certain I didn’t suffer regret for not fulfilling some milestones. So I opted to attend graduate school like my dad. I was apprehensive as to whether I would even be admitted to the graduate school. In retrospect, I think the school was “hungry” for new students as many of us were working professionals already with employers willing to finance our educational endeavors. Eventually I managed to obtain my MBA following by another graduation the following year majoring in leadership studies. Sadly, nothing really changed about my employment position or salary. I’m still glad I underwent the degree program seeing it through to fruition yet I’m still doing the same job I started with 11+ years ago.
Mac, Often traditional milestones are not what they are hyped to be. They can seriously disappoint you!
When I looked at my own stagnant life, I tried to judge it not by typical accomplishments, but rather by whether I was accomplishing what mattered eternally. That thinking brings the greatest rewards!
This is not so much the story of what I did, or how I corrected my situation. This is more of my story about how God can salvage someone like me who is on the path toward destruction.
Growing up as a kid my favorite number was 44. I guess I thought maybe it was a lucky number, and by that age I would have reached some goals in my life. So there was some built-up expectation connected to that age.
When I finally reached it 15 years ago, I came up with the notion that I was in some way out of time, and nothing in my life would get better than it was at that point. That’s the panic, that’s the crisis.
I saw that every aspect of my life was, to myself, a great disappointment. Not that my wife and my children were a disappointment to me at all, but it was how I had provided for them and cared for them was where I fell short.
My marriage had suffered greatly over the years and was frail at best. My relationships with my children were weak, I felt I was a disappointment to them. I faded away from my own nuclear and extended family over the years. I had drifted away from my old friends through family and work commitments. Those same obligations had overturned my desires to further my education. And my vocational success and financial status were not where I wanted them to be.
I did do some examining of my life at that time, sort of like a spiritual assessment, I guess. Much of it came in the form of sweaty, restless nightmares.
It turns out that the only areas of my life that were not crashing were the two “secret areas” of my life: my lifelong SSA and the clandestine relationships, and behaviors that both resulted from it and fueled it.
I was full of self hatred, shame, fear, guilt, and anxiety. This wasn’t a brief period, I stewed in it for a couple years. I had no idea what to do, but I knew that I couldn’t go on like this. It wasn’t good for anyone, but my wife and I persisted for the sake of our family.
I’ll save you the lengthy details, (found on my testimonial page if you like), but through two particular events which lead to some level of repentance and then my baptism, God shook me out of the tree I was in, against my will, and began drawing me on a path towards him.
I participated in a Life Recovery ministry for 4 years where I had new experiences in fellowship and serving others. I feel a desire to encourage and somehow serve other men struggling with their own SSA. I trust God that I could serve him well in this area.
Great post, Marshall. It is difficult to get out of our comfort zone, but the pain of refusing to let God use you tends to remove any sense of comfort over time. Can’t wait to hear more about how you let God work through you!
Haha, I have only started, there were some big adventures I want to tell about!
I had a few crises in my mid-twenties but I’m not sure any of them count as a “quarter-life crisis.” I guess I may cross the bridge of mid-life crisis when I get there, but in general, I think my life has to be REALLY stagnant before I feel the need for a dramatic change. Which isn’t necessarily good–I lose bigger vision for my life pretty easily.
Ryan, I can see the big vision for my life best when I am alone with Jesus and thinking about how I will respond to Him on judgement day. Think about the parable of the sheep and the goats. Did you care for “the least of these”?
Quarter-life crisis? What’s that?
[…] is the continuing story of my midlife crisis which started when a deep sense of dissatisfaction drove me to make big changes and start a new […]
[…] is the third post in my midlife crisis series when my whole life was completely rearranged. After leaving an easy life, nice house, and good […]
[…] enduring a midlife crisis, I left my job, my church, and the town where I had lived for 20 years. I moved to Seattle with a […]
[…] been telling the story of my midlife crisis and how I moved 3,000 miles away from the place I had lived for 20 years. God provided friends, […]
[…] is the conclusion of the story of my midlife crisis: when I saw my comfortable life disrupted, living in four different places around the country […]