During breakfast this morning, with my wife, I was reminded again that I’m not the man I used to be. Getting out of bed this morning found me a bit achy and moving slowly. We are doing some projects around the house and my body is reminding me that I don’t have the young resilient body I used to have. As we enjoyed breakfast together I realized that I don’t have the same mind either.
My wife was reading me an article of how a 60+ year old man was making the decision to leave the religious denomination of his youth because he felt the denomination was keeping him from exercising his values of equality toward women. Apparently, the denomination had recently made public statements regarding their interpretation that women should not have places of authority in the church. They had quoted several bible verses that they felt justified their stance. For the 60+ year old man – this was not OK.
As a younger man, I would not have gotten this. Why then does the stance of this man now make sense to me?
As a point of reference, my younger mind had a much more rigid world view. I was much more rule driven – more black and white in my thinking. As a result, I’m quite sure that I would not have understood the older me. I bet I would have been disappointed at my lack of conviction or lack of “sold out”–ness to the faith.
But I’m unbothered by that now.
At some point life handed me enough data that I realized that the convictions of my youth were grinding against my evolving world view. The discomfort of this incongruity was driving me toward a rethink – and this rethink would challenge me to solidify where my heart really was on certain issues. Were the stances of my youth going to serve me well for the next season of my life?
There is a sense of loss that comes from the realization that what you once believed – maybe even based your life on – is not necessarily going to serve you well in the future. Part of my struggle was to not throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. For instance, using the story from above, to throw all faith and religion out the window because a small facet of it did not jive with my values.
At this point, I’ve decided that I don’t need a new proclamation as much as I needed a new vantage point. A place to view the world from. A place to hold more loosely. A place to be curious.
You might call it my search for a new equilibrium in my life. That what I once thought was undeniable – actually may be. That some things in life can’t be known – and that’s okay. That believing and knowing are two different things and there is room for both – but try not to mix one too much with the other.
If I owe my younger self anything these days – I believe it is the challenge to keep thinking – to keep wrestling with how my actions are fleshing out my values. It is to be faithful to processing what this new season is demanding that I should take seriously – and continually work on what it means to be a healthier ME in the midst of the convolutedness. It is to hold my younger self accountable to giving up the proclamations that may no longer be serving me, my family, my friends, my community or my world well (at least in my opinion) – and realigning my growing, aging mind and body with the deep values of my heart.
For today – I like that.