A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill. Let the thrill go – let it die away – go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow – and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all around them (p.111).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

I am not yet old enough to battle a mid-life crisis, but I can certainly see the traces of it in myself already. I have a strong tendency to want to hold on tightly to pleasures and good seasons of life. Even as I try to dream God-sized dreams, I savor the process and get nostalgic as each stage passes. It would very easy for that to develop into a “glory days” mindset that made me feel desperate for what was.

This seems to be another scenario where our greatest temptations often stem from clinging too tightly to God’s sweetest blessings. Children or an invigorating career are things we thank God for profusely (or at least we should). But as our children mature and marry or our career peeks and we look to pass the baton, is this not the raw material of a mid-life crisis?

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Even as I write this reflection and look back at Lewis’ words, I am questioning whether I currently have the strength of faith or rest in God to avoid a mid-life crisis. Currently, I can rest in the fact that I do not, because that morning is not here so God has not issued those mercies yet (Lament 3:23). But I fear that it is clever Christian rhetoric on my part to cover the way I cling to my present blessings suspicious of whether future blessings will be “as good.”

But I can see the folly in my fears. If I don’t let me children mature, grow independent, and pursue the lives God created them for, they would become a burden and seeing their misfortune would bring great pain. If I allow ministry to become “mine,” then it would shift from advancing God’s kingdom to advancing my own. Soon it would be mired in fluctuations between pride and fear.

Lewis is right, when I fail to “let the trill go… they will all get weaker and weaker” as least as pleasure; as masters they will get stronger and stronger. As best I can tell, the solution is to live fully in each moment without living for the moment.

This requires me to truly believe that God is truly the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) even as sweat seasons of life fade and I deteriorate. What is changing is my capacity, not His goodness. But even this misses the point. I am not fading into oblivion. When I fail to let the thrill go, I am living as if this life is all there is.

Mid-life, by definition, believes I am on the second half of my life. But this is not the kind of creature we are. This is like a fetus having a mid-term crisis at 4.5 months. The event that is looming to change his/her existence is not a tragedy, but a delivery, but not a delivery to be rushed, because God has important plans for the second half.

I pray now for the awareness and willingness to live fully in every moment God gives me without continuing to live for that moment when the next one comes.