midlife: not solving the tension, but living with it

So, after all this writing, reading, thinking, here’s what I’m realizing.

It’s a tension I can’t solve by making one choice or another. This has been frustrating me for a long time because I’ve been assuming that I could make some series of life choices that would be perfect.

Like, I could find some trail of choices that would make me perfectly fulfilled and not regretful of anything.

But what is dawning on me, is that it will never be that way, no matter what I choose. (Well, I mean I’m not even considering some options, like choosing to dump my family and “follow my heart.” I mean, poop, how elusive and confusing is my “heart”?)

I’m talking about choosing between valid, responsible choices. Like, should I start studying to be a midwife? Or should I invest myself more into understanding home education?

I’m between two mountains. On the one hand, my kids will all be gone in the next 7-14 years. So, do I want to invest myself more heartily into this “one go” I have with them?

The second mountain is that I’m 43. If I postpone midwifery for another 10 years, or indefinitely, then the chances of coming back to it and/or having a meaningful practice are shrinking proportionally.

Last week, I was leaning towards midwifery. This week I’m leaning towards my kids.

But here’s what I’ve realized, and what may actually be the release from this slow torture: That either choice will have imperfections. Regrets. Joys. Fulfillments and disappointments.

So, in one sense, it doesn’t matter what I choose. I can stop trying to find the perfect life fulfillment. It doesn’t exist.

I have a friend who has kids and a career, and it has a lot of agonies, worries, unfulfillments….

Jesus exists. And maybe where all this winding trail is going. He is more than enough for life fulfillment. Not a profession or career, or kids or whatever.

I think one benefit of this midlife exploration is that, whatever I choose to do with the rest of my life, shrinking as that time is, is that I will learn to value what I have now . That might be the whole purpose of this life exercise.

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  1. “Jesus exists. And maybe where all this winding trail is going. He is more than enough for life fulfillment. Not a profession or career, or kids or whatever. ”

    This is what I needed to hear. I feel like I let go of “perfect choices” years ago, and yet still feel riddled by indecision.

    (Ironically, my counsel to my young adults? Pick a goal, aim for it — God will redirect you in life, but at least you’ll have a direction! Totally reacting to my own indecision.)

    “I will learn to value what I have now.”

    I think that has been one of the gifts of having a “second batch” of kids as well as frequent moves. I feel like I can embrace where I am now and appreciate it for what it is — not live (too much) in the future or regret the past.

    Did I tell you? This move has been one when I feel like for the first time we are counting the cost of the choices we’ve made over the past twenty years. At no point would we have made different choices — and yet — aging parents and adult kids in the US while we are going to be an ocean away? It’s a higher cost that we have felt before.

    Thank you, Anne, for the years of processing these things with me, publically and privately.

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