Today I began reading Bob Buford’s book, Halftime:® Moving from Success to Significance, and I’m especially curious to learn whether Buford’s book departs from or confirms the ideas put forth by Richard Rohr. As I read the preface, I anticipated that Buford’s experience might be very different.
Instead of facing a crisis as I approached middle age, I discovered that a new and better life lay before me. I called the process of discovery “halftime,” and the eventual outcome of this process led to my “second half.” The metaphor fit because, after a successful first half, I needed a break to make some changes in how I played the second. I had plenty of success over the preceding twenty years, and I wasn’t burned out or frustrated, but I felt something was missing and I needed to change my game plan. In retrospect I can see that I must have been divinely protected from chasing down the usual trails people take to find what was missing.
Compared to Rohr’s description of “a necessary suffering and humbling pain” moving people into the second half of life, Buford’s experience sounded a lot easier.
Yesterday I wrote a very brief overview of Richard Rohr’s book, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. Basically Rohr says that people first build their identities, then experience a necessary suffering that serves as a crossover, and finally God calls them on to a further journey of faith during the second half of life. Rohr notes that not everyone chooses to move into that further journey, but rather they will spend their lives continually focused on building and maintaining their identities.
Does everyone agree with Rohr’s viewpoint? Probably not, yet it’s worth considering. I would say my own life does fit that pattern.
At last I finished reading Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life1 by Richard Roar. This was the first book I read so far in which the author acknowledges a midlife crisis.
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4 | ESV).
Four Generations of Jesus Followers
“Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior” (Titus 2:3-5 | MSG).
“The Angelus” by Jean-Francois Millet, 1859, oil on canvas, location: Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France
I have always loved two of Jean-Francois Millet’s paintings: The Angelus (above) and The Gleaners (shared here). Perhaps my rural roots draw me to these portraits of people working the land. Also, I have always associated these paintings with the story of Ruth — she worked as a gleaner and later Boaz noticed her working in his field.
The Angelus depicts a couple pausing to pray during their potato harvest as the church bells ring from the steeple painted in the background.
This scene reminded me of author Lysa TerKeurst’s advice in chapter fifteen of Uninvited: When we pray “Thy will be done,” we trust God to redeem the pain and guide us to the help we need.
Today I listened to a rebroadcast of journalist David Brooks addressing the Aspen Ideas Festival. His thoughts fit so well into what I’m reading, so I thought you might enjoy listening to him as well.
I’m thankful for many people who have served as a mentor to me, even though we never called it mentoring. I can name pastors, teachers, professors, Bible study leaders, homeschool support group leaders, relatives, neighbors, and friends who have spoken truth and modeled godly living to me. Usually it was in a group setting — occasionally one on one.
I believe God placed those men and women in my life not only for my benefit, but also with the plan that I would pass along the insight and encouragement that was invested in me.