by Debbie Altman
“Marvelous Midlife….” Well, actually, the committee named this late night chat for Beautiful Weekend. “Marvelous” was not the first word that came to mind when I thought of mid-life!
Let’s see. There’s the symptoms of hormone shifts, (hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, mood-swings, to name a few!) aging parents to care for, or the grief of their passing; and young adult children leaving the nest,(or coming back!) There’s the battle with age…we are supposed to do that gracefully…whatever that means! Personally, I’m not that happy about it! Even my knees are saggy! It takes so many more hours to do all the things I’m supposed to be doing to “keep myself up” these days! And “keeping up” in general seems harder than it used to be…did my energy and memory take a vacation?! There is the feeling that our culture does not revere the aging as those who are wise; but are more interested in the young and trendy, and we are being pushed aside. Then there is the idea of re-evaluating your life…questioning whether you are where you want to be, and have done the things you intended to do. We won’t call it a mid-life crisis, but it is certainly a mid-life re-calculation! For some dear women, tragically finding themselves “single-again” can add to the unsettling season of life this can be.
I was trying to explain to my husband and then 26 year-old son what menopause was, and how I was in it, and what it was like. I was trying to tell them that I loved them and to please forgive me and not take it personally if I bit their head off! My son very innocently and inquisitively asked me…”and how long does this last?
So where is the “marvelous” you ask?! Well, I am here to tell you that after the initial slap in the face of mid-life, there is so much to be valued!
I went through a particularly difficult time with hormone imbalance, along with several of the other mid-life stressors I have mentioned. Out of nowhere, I began to experience debilitating anxiety, and consequently depression, and it was truly “a dark night of my soul.” But as I re-evaluated everything in my life…spirit, soul and body…God led me through—He guided me and provided a way to healing.
In the midst of my suffering, Jesus became even more dear to me than I could imagine. He was my Rock and my Fortress, my Shelter in the storm, my Rescuer from the pit. While initially being nervous about both my children being gone to other states and countries, and wondering if I would still have something to talk about with my husband at the dinner table…we found that we were having fun and enjoying the spontaneity of less responsibility for children! I don’t have to cook as much! Hooray! I re-discovered the value of female friendships. I could not have made it through without them…and I have more time for them! And this season of life offers more opportunity to mentor the younger women around me and pour myself into them! I’ve been able to re-define my role as a “mother.” And there is a confidence and freedom of older age, from lessons learned, from experiencing God’s faithfulness, that makes life more satisfying and humorous! I may not even be considered “middle-aged” anymore…I am 55, and I think in some places that is a “senior citizen”! But I have navigated mid-life and come out the other side, and while it wasn’t always pretty, Jesus has been my hero. I am so thankful for the beauty He gives us in each season of our life. He is Marvelous!
Debbie is the wife of Pastor Craig Altman, and together, they founded Grace Family Church 18 years ago. She is a former RN and mother of a 27 year old married daughter and 26 year old son. She is also known as “Nona” to her precious granddaughter. Debbie enjoys family, reading, the beach, and is inappropriately competitive at board games.