Growing up I can remember hearing about something called a mid-life crisis. Something that happens to men or women in their forties and as a kid the only thing I knew is that for men it resulted in a fancy sports car or blonde mistress and for women it might result in plastic surgery or a really bad haircut and wardrobe change. I'm not quite to my forties yet, but I'm beginning to see it in the near future. And while I don't see convertibles or mini skirts in my husband's or my future, I am beginning to understand why people lose it a little bit.
I remember being in my teens and twenties and I was convinced that there was some magic age where I would "get it". I would suddenly have perfect skin, a full bank account and the answers to all of life's questions and struggles. Children came along and began to shut down my line of thinking as they taught me and continue to teach me I really know nothing at all. Sure, I am able to sit with the young new mother and smile quietly as she frets over her screaming toddler or her baby who won't eat. I can smile and nod because I know that this too shall pass, that she will be able to make through a store or church service one day without leaving abruptly and her child will not starve. However, some days that feels like all I know.
Now that I am facing forty in the not too distant future, I'm not quite sure where to stand. I have confidence and knowledge about babies, toddlers and preschoolers or even the challenges of being a young woman in the workforce, however, I look at my life now with bewilderment. I find myself craving the wisdom of every single woman who is ahead of me. How did they do it? How did they face their kids' challenges and problems with grace and ease? What did they do to shore up their marriage so the many darts of the Enemy would not destroy it?
I tried to think of a Bible character who had a mid life crisis. I don't recall any of the prophets ditching their ministry for beach house in Key West or anything like that. But I do know that these mid life crises are really symptoms of doubt and fear. There were no bigger doubters than the disciples. Yes, the guys who dropped everything to follow Jesus. Funny how the biggest Jesus followers were sometimes the biggest doubters. And Peter, one of the strongest and most vocal followers had some of the darkest and most humbling moments.
Once, as the disciples faced rough and dangerous waters, Peter said, to Jesus who appeared in the distance, "Lord if it's really you, command me to come to you on the water." Peter is the only one who spoke out and in a sense challenged Jesus to prove Himself to the group. While we are told specifically not to test the Lord by demanding signs and wonders, I believe the lesson here is when faced with fear and uncertainty Jesus allows us to say, "Show me what you can do in my situation." There was no safety in the rocking boat slammed by waves. Our homes, marriages, jobs and even the knowledge we have acquired thus far are no match for this world. No matter what you come to know and understand, there will be another challenge ahead that makes the previous season of life a piece of cake.
So I've changed my thinking. There is no magic age or season in life where we have all the answers. In most cases, we display more wisdom in being honest with ourselves and our God by saying, "I don't know." Admitting it's all too impossible but turning toward the Saviour who seems far off and saying, "Jesus, if that's You right there before me, tell me to come to you and I will and I will falter but I'll reach for you."
Peter reached out and Peter sank a little. It's ok for us to sink a little, too. Doubt and fear are not sins. If not addressed head on with the truth of God, doubt and fear can result in sinful choices. But doubt and fear can also result in beautiful, comforting and fresh belief in Jesus.