Home (almost) Alone
One of our family traditions is that when the girls are 16 and have finished their exams mum takes them somewhere sunny for a weekend; so yesterday Grace and the 16 year old flew out to Nice. And the 17 year old flew up to Newcastle yesterday for a weekend of checking out university and church. There would be a sweet circularity if she chooses to study there, as Grace and I met and fell in love while students at Newcastle.
So it’s just me and the 12 year old, and the dogs, this weekend. Which does mean a fried breakfast and a steak dinner as we bond over the major food groups. (The 12 year old that is, not the dogs; though I’m sure they would be very happy to be included.)
I’m fighting middle-age fairly vigorously mind you. I just did one of those ‘test your biological age’ things you can do online which told me I have the body of a 23 year old: the fruit of western healthcare, healthy eating, happiness and intense exercise. Go me.
Ageing will not be denied though, like it or not. And middle-age is dangerous territory. Already when I was in my 20s I had spotted the things those in their 40s & 50s struggle with: the couples who’ve put it all into the kids and find there is nothing left in the marriage when the kids leave home; the guys who get all bitter and twisted because younger men are promoted over them at work; the tendency to settle for the god of comfort. We all know the stereotypes of a full-blown mid-life crisis (affair/motorbike/facelift) but it is more often the less obvious things that kill you. I want to fight that too.
So to all my fellow-middle-agers out there, and to those of you who will be middle-aged sooner than you know it, I say this: hold together the words of the Teacher and of Paul…
You who are young, be happy while you are young,
and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart
and whatever your eyes see,
but know that for all these things
God will bring you into judgment.
So then, banish anxiety from your heart
and cast off the troubles of your body,
for youth and vigour are meaningless.
Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
‘I find no pleasure in them’ (Ecclesiastes 11:9–12:1).
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Tim. 4:6-8).
If we can do that there will be contentment in every age and stage of life, and for evermore. That’s a good thing to remember when you are home (almost) alone.