Brotha Alert: Am I Having A Mid-Life Crisis?
(ThyBlackMan.com) What exactly is a mid-life crisis? The term ‘mid-life crisis’ is a purely Western phenomenon used to describe a period in one’s life that is marked by self-doubt, an emerging sense that one has not lived one’s dreams and a tendency to recapture the nostalgia of one’s youth. A mid-life crisis is further characterized by indulging in fantasy buying, such as new clothes, new cars and anything that is designed to put a person back into the limelight. According to some psychologists, this period is usually preempted by a “life event” such as a divorce, death of a loved one or a career change. It is part and parcel of the Western tendency to market the disease and sell the cure. It is interesting that the term ‘mid-life crisis’ does not appear in Eastern or Oriental cultures, nor is it a staple of Muslim societies, either.
Now that we know what a mid-life crisis is, the next question is am I as a black man experiencing such a crisis?
My answer: you are experiencing a so-called mid-life crisis if you are using standards set by a secular and materialistic culture that defines a person’s growth by what he or she has accumulated, accomplished and attained in their adult years. When we gauge our lives by such standards, we leave ourselves vulnerable to feelings of emptiness and isolation. Indeed, many of us have succumbed to this temptation and there have been many casualties. Suicide rates for black men doubled toward the end of the twentieth century; more black men are locked in depression than ever.
To be sure, all of us have looked back over our lives with a fair amount of regret. The question is does such reflection have to reach a crisis? Does it necessarily have to lead to loss of self-esteem?
Someone has well said that we are spiritual beings on a physical journey. Our evolution continues each day of our lives, in spite of what we have not accomplished in the past. Besides, what can we do about that which we have not achieved? All we can do is “build our hopes on things eternal, and hold to God’s unchanging hand.” There is no time machine to take us back to the nostalgic days of our youth, no magic wand to cause our regrets to disappear.
To regret something is nothing more than an admission that things didn’t turn out the way one had envisioned; it is the willingness to admit to one self, “my bad.” It was never intended for any of us to become trapped in the prison of our regrets! Move on, brotha! God has so many blessings for your future. But if you choose to remain stuck in the past, you’ll never realize those divine promises!
Does the Bible say anything about a mid-life crisis? The one verse that sticks out in my mind was uttered by St. Paul: “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” This tells me that, whatever we are going through in this thing called life – divorce, career change, losing loved ones, being unemployed – we must have the mind of Christ. If the field of life has been littered with the vestiges of those who have grown weary of personal struggles, it all began in the mind.
What was the mind of Christ? He was strong when others gave in to cowardice; He was mindful of His purpose in life when others drifted with the crowd; He exemplified the beauty in living when others sunk to despairing levels of criticisms and judgmental attitudes. In short, Jesus Christ showed us how to overcome all of the self-defeating behaviors that we experience as we move through adulthood. He knew what he was here for. It doesn’t matter what we go through or have gone through, His mind is the superlative example.
A quote by Oprah Winfrey has given me guidance for the journey:
“What I know for sure is that no matter where you stand right now – on a hilltop, in a gutter, at a crossroads, in a rut – you need to give yourself the best you have to offer at this moment. This is it. Rather than depleting yourself with judgments about what you haven’t done, who you could have become, why you haven’t moved faster, or what you should have changed, redirect that energy toward the next big push – the one that takes you from good enough to better. The one that takes you from adequate to extraordinary; the one that helps you rise up from a low moment and helps you reach for your personal best.”