Some people, when they reach my age, are still thinking and saying pretty much the same things they said when they were 18 years old, freshly minted high school graduates. I can name clear phases where my life has been altered—more or less in this order:
1) Where I began: Conservative/Cultural—I thought and said what I had been taught to think and say by my parents, church and culture. Also, I love nature, sports and reading.
2) Friendships—The importance of peer pressure is huge for teens as well as adults. We tend to become like the people we spend time with. I have been fortunate to have good friends with positive influences.
3) Intentionally Evangelical, but, at the same time, less churchy. Young Life was important.
4) Socially Conscious—I became aware of ethical issues in the world, particularly racism. “There are none so blind as they who will not see.”
5) Ecumenical, I became aware that the Christian world was larger than my Christian denomination.
6) Family commitments, marriage and daughters altered my worldview and priorities.
7) Pastoral care skills learned—I discovered there is pain in the world I had never experienced. The knee-jerk responses, opinions and habits that were intuitive to me were inadequate to deep challenges of the human condition.
8) Travel—In my early thirty’s, I began to travel and discover worlds about which I had been ignorant. The world opened up for me.
9) Listening better and paying attention affected every area of life.
10) Professionalism, i.e., developing the skills needed to manage/administer/lead the organization(s) and people that paid my salary.
11) Scholar. Eventually, I discovered I had a brain and enjoyed thinking. Wrote two books about worship.
12) The language of Alcoholics Anonymous and Codependency became important to me as I attended AlAnon meetings for half a year.
13) Humor—I discovered not only that I was funny but also that the world has plenty of irony and paradox at its core.
14) Grace—I was slow to get to grace, but eventually I did. Wrote another book: Overcoming Adolescence.
15) Interfaith. Aware of the positive values within other faiths: Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other. My understanding of God kept getting bigger and bigger. God told Moses his name is, I AM WHO I AM.
16) Yoga—Not sure yet what I will discover, but, after half a year, already I am learning and profiting from this new experience of focusing on breathing and mindfulness.
I’m 67 and still growing, wondering what’s next…
What phases, transitions or chapters have you experienced since adolescence?