This 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 life.

After tutoring my friend’s son in high school chemistry and algebra, I saw many kids in his Christian school who were very far from God. These kids were amazingly skilled at deceiving their parents that they were good Christians; meanwhile, they sneaked around using drugs, having sex, bullying other kids, and otherwise behaving in ways that proved their faith was far from genuine.

I volunteered to tutor more kids and even occasionally substituted as a teacher in the school. I ended up getting to know many of them well enough that they trusted me and confessed stuff they wouldn’t tell their parents.

When some of these “bad kids” moved into my friend’s condo, I ended up in the middle of a giant mess. The kids’ sins got exposed for all to see.

The kids on one side trusted me; on the other side, the parents and even our church pastors grew suspicious of me. I suspect my same-sex attraction (SSA) might have had something to do with it.

After a lot of talking back and forth, things did settle down. But at least one of these high school boys actually did turn from his sin and became a genuine Christian.

I knew I had definitely found my calling!

I actually had a significant dream one night. A high school student was calling my name and asking me for help.

Waking up, I intuitively knew that I should devote as much time and energy as possible to pointing the younger generation to Jesus Christ!

I ended up leaving my job and tutoring full-time.

I also left my comfortable house and lived with some of the younger adult guys who’d asked me to move in with them.

My midlife crisis had kicked off a new life that was no longer safe and comfortable. But it was good!

I felt God’s pleasure over my giving myself to what really mattered. Really, my new adventures were just starting!

How have you gotten outside yourself to serve others? When have you escaped safe and comfortable, and how did it kick off a new life with something better?

  • Marshall, thank you for walking away from comfort and what was familiar to do the difficult work of the kingdom. That decision is too rarely made. You are a stud. I’m sure you must have heard grave admonitions to “avoid the appearance of evil” and flee from the allure of those young men. You are a great asset to this community. One of the ways I have escaped the safe and comfortable is just participating in this community and sometimes doing some mentoring that stretches me and unnerves me a little bit. Publishing my first book was also an escape from the comfortable. Much of that process brought a level of scrutiny and corrective feedback that I do not particularly enjoy. Thanks again Marshall!

    • Thanks for that compliment!
      I only remember one warning about living with younger guys and that was from a pastor of my church. Because he did not understand my temptations of same-sex attraction, I evaluated his comments but disagreed with them.
      I did not see our housemate situation as “the appearance of evil”.

      • Of course, but if pastors were aware of your proclivity, they generally would have jumped to that mistaken conclusion.

  • This was a very encouraging post to me for a couple of reasons! First, to answer your questions, I have left he comfortability and safety of an “American Bubble” & lived in India for a year working alongside a team dedicated to getting the Gospel to our city and state. Very incredibly hard and humbling time, but God grew me the most over this past year than I have ever been grown thus far! There’s just something about having to lean solely on Him, yet never losing joy and peace. He also grew me over this year in means of teaching me how to tell my story of SSA, and reminding me that this story matters.
    This post was also encouraging because, now that I am home, I have searching for entry level biotech jobs, but just this week I have been SUPER interested in being a high school teacher at a Christian school for that very reason – and I haven’t really thought much about this before since I don’t have an education degree. I don’t think this post could have come at a more perfect time! So I’m very thankful for it.

    • Tyler,
      It sounds like you are devoting your life to glorifying God. There is no greater joy than the joy of His presence and the joy of leading others to Him!
      That decision of where to work is between you and God, but definitely consider teaching at a Christian school. Just because the kids are from a Christian environment does NOT mean they are genuinely following Jesus Christ.
      If you are speaking the truth in love and living it in front of your students, they will see your joy and peace in your trials. They will see God answer your prayers. They will remember those things long after they forget the details of the academic subject.
      I believe some will repent and believe!

  • As I read through your story, Marshall, I have a growing sense that your adventure is only just beginning. How incredibly thrilling it is to read of your journey into that school, through that school, and dealing with the messes that came out of that school. I am taking a kind of sabbatical from my normal summer routine and trying to find out how to use the legacies that have been imparted to me. For weeks, now, the words, “To whom much is given, much is expected” have been resounding in my mind. Your post reminds me to be consistent in my pursuit of God, and then courageously take those steps He opens up to me. I am batting away the objections of my colleagues: “You’re in your mid-60’s; you’re kinda…over.” I believe I have years of giving left in me and more to pass on. Thank you for the reminder of that through your story.

    • Paul,
      You are NOT “kinda over” in your 60s ! God wants us to use our talents to glorify Him and help others. You may not run as fast or as far as you could when you were 18, but you can still take opportunities God gives you.
      Pray and look for those opportunities to give, serve, and love. You will be surprised at what happens when you take them!

  • Marshall, I love that your “midlife crisis” involves leaving what appears to be stability and comfort to advance the Gospel and build the Kingdom, not throwing money around to try to feel young again. (In fact I would guess that the choices you’ve made have brought more youthful energy into your life than, say, a motorcycle would.) Thanks for sharing your wisdom, and keep at it!

    • Ryan,
      Thanks for the compliment! Yes, I believe I am much happier and am accomplishing more that matters because of choosing to pursue eternal priorities instead of security and comfort.

  • Marshall

    Jesus told us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. I seek to do that with great joy, because He is better than everything we give up! Also I want to love others in an unselfish way as Jesus taught. I currently do my best to live out that kind of love with 15 other friends on a farm near the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. I love talking about what really matters, and seeing a friend's heart turn from pain to joy, from fear to peace, and from despair to hope! My writing tends to focus on the topic of friendships with other guys. I have never married and am currently the oldest author on YOB.

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