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Friday, April 3, 2015

Wanting to be somewhere else in our lives and the role of faith.

One time when I was talking with my daughter, it occurred to me that we spend a lot time throughout our life, wishing we were at a different point of our life.  In other words, the grass will be or was greener at a different point. Now, descriptions of each stage and the longings at each stage, doesn't apply to everyone and experiences differ, but I believe on onto something.  So, without further ado, i bring you the stages in our lives and how we could wish for them to be different.
  • When we are real little kids we look up the elementary school kids and wish we were one of the 'bigger kids'.  We want to be able to ride on this ride or do this activity, be stronger or faster, etc.  
  • When we are young kids, we look to the teenagers and see that they can drive, they can go to more grown up movies, they can stay at home by themselves, they can date, etc.  We see the freedoms they have and wish we could be a big kid.  We won't necessarily see the responsibility that goes with being an older kid.
  • When we are teens we wish an adult so we can live on our own, be able to work full-time or go away to school, etc.  In other words, we are striving for the adult level perks.  We like the perks, but may not be thrilled with the responsibility that comes with them.
  • When we are a young adult under 21, many look forward to 21 as a right of initiation.  We look to be able to go just about to any club or any place we want.  In some cases, we look at those in high school as 'kids' and we are glad we are grown up.  We yearn to be taken seriously as grown-ups, but are not always at this point, especially if we still have parental dependence. 
  • There is a period starting in our  early to middle 20s, especially if we have our first job out of college or have been working for a while when we really start to feel our oats.  For many, it is being able to do just about whatever we want and not having to answer to many people, except maybe an occasional parent or peer group concern.  But, relatively speaking, we have our freedom and a paycheck and can do what we want.  While some have already worked on finding that 'lifelong' relationship, for others it is the time in which we have started to move away from fun dating and have started really started to want to find that lasting grown-up relationship.  From what I see, this period has the potential to be the happiest. However, for some they have lifelong career ambitions that can usually only be achieved with time.  For them, there is impatience to be a little older.
  • Then we hit our 30s.  For some this is a good thing as we are able to really start hitting some of our career ambitions.  For others, it is an 'oh crap' moment in which we realize that we aren't so 'youngish' anymore.  By this time, many are married and have started families.   Now we have to be responsible.  The carefree days of childhood and still free days of young adulthood have yielded to the realities of having to be a responsible spouse/parent.  In some ways, while thirtysomethings may be happy in their marriage/family, there is sometimes a wish for the freedom/carefree nature of our younger years.  In other words, there is some yearning to be a little younger.
  • For me at 36 I realized that I was on the wrong side of the 30s.  In my early to mid 30s, I felt I was close enough to my 20s that I could consider myself close to a 20 something.   To a high schooler, I would start to seriously look like Dad this point and less like the cool older brother.  By 36, the delusion was over.   I wasn't anywhere near old, but I wasn't exactly close enough to my young adulthood to be part of the 'cool crowd'.  To a teen, I'd be starting to look old though.  To myself, I'd realized that I am closer to 40s than to 20s.
  • For me hitting the 40s was like oh well.  I mean what's the difference between 39 and 40.  From what I see, not much.  I was the age that I thought was old when I was a teen.  I still could hold onto the delusion that I wasn't starting to get old.  That delusion's end comes later.  For some in the 20s and 30s, our body starts saying, "Hello, I have issues".  But, in the 40s our bodies tend to kick this to a higher gear.  Recovery time is longer, we just don't have the flexibility that our kids have.  While they are playing and running, while we are looking for the bench to sit on and watch.  Still, relatively speaking we are not old. Many are established in their career, but we still wish we had the stamina and spunk of younger years.
  • Later 40s.  The 40s have been said to be the new 30s with advancements in healthcare.  But, we are realizing now that the delusion of being the new 30s will end soon anyway.  We are seriously edging closer and closer to being able to receive AARP benefits.  In other words, society has in way started to let us know that soon we will be welcomed to the old person's club.  We start to really reflect on how far away we are from high school/college.  Our parent's health often seriously starts to deteriorate then and in some cases, they have died by this point--leaving us to feel like oh wow, we are the family elder(s).   We start really missing the younger years.
  • In our 50s, we are telling ourselves, well at least I'm not a senior citizen.  But, to the youth culture, we are looking  like or being seen as "grandma/grandpa".   In many cases, we start really recalling the 'old days'. To younger people, before your time, is unfortunately a saying we are uttering more and more.  We in some cases, wish we had the wisdom of now with the body of a younger person.  For some, we are 'old', for others we don't want to give up the delusion.  Our kids, whom in some cases have already started leaving before this, are growing up in droves by now.  Our parents start leaving us behind in droves, leaving us to realize we are the family leader generation coming of age.  Once again, we miss more and more younger years.
  • Our 60s - literally now we are senior citizens and by this time most people, if they are to be grandparents are that by now.  We like the grandkids, but we enjoy that we don't have to watch them at the end of the day in most cases.  As our kids have become well established in their own life, we really really sometimes long for the younger years.  Friend of ours, who in some cases have died before this, are dying more often now.   Some still have parent alive, but most or many of our parents have passed on, leaving us as the older generation.   In any case, we start to really strongly consider our own mortality, assuming we aren't in denial.   We see our younger years as a distant memory by now.
  • 70s and beyond - We start to look at 50s and even some in 60s as 'young'.  If we are 'lucky' to have made it here, we have lost a lot of people.  We realize that in many cases, we are nearing the end and reflections/regrets that might have really evidencing themselves in our mid to late 50s and 60s just become more and more common now, presuming we still are mentally with it.  Clearly a younger version of ourselves with the knowledge we've gained would be desirable at this point.
Anyway, the conclusion, I have come up with after assessing the different points in our lives is that for much our life, unless we have faith and the hope that goes with it, seems to be a struggle.  We long to be a different age then we are much or most of the time.  There are struggles/frets at each stage.  There may only really a short window at best in which we are 'truly happy' with our age.  FAITH is a tool by which can hold on through the rough periods and realize happiness in every period and have hope for the future.  

If we look through a glass half full perspective, there is always something we have to do or are not allowed to do at the various stages of our lives.  It is easy to overlook the responsibilities we are exempt from due to age--working for a living, paying bills, etc. It is also easy to overlook the things we can do at our age, that we can't necessarily do at other ages. Things such as riding kids ride, easily climbing and jumping and running as kid.

For me, my Christian faith has helped me to accept the stages and roles of my life, though not perfectly.  For example, I'm in my late 40s and instead of seeing managing the affairs and expenses of the passing of my parents as a burden, I can see it as an honor that they trusted me.  In my younger years, it helped me see that I have the freedom to do things without the burden of responsibility that comes with adulthood such as how will I pay for my needs.

It is inevitable that from time to time and at different points in our lives that we wish we were at a different stages.  It is also inevitable that at times, we look forward to stages in our lives idealistically or back on stages in our lives selectively.  However, what is not inevitable that we stay in the past or impatiently wish for the future.  With faith and hope, we can learn to appreciate the moment and stay in it most of the time as needed.

Just some thoughts....

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