Jennifer Grant has written a book about aging and middle life that is, at times, gritty, humorous, sad, honest, but very, very much grace-filled. It is one that those who are about to enter mid-life, those who are in mid-life, and those, like me, who have passed through mid-life and are on the verge of senior adulthood should read.
Make that, “everybody should read.”
When Did Everybody Else Grow Old? : Indignities, Compromises, and the Unexpected Grace of Midlife (TBP 2017, Herald Press (VA)) is a wonderful set of reflections about the dynamics and realities of growing old(er) but within the gaze of God.
Beginning with an honest assessment: “Most of us have complicated relationship with our memories,” Grant journeys into the realities and possibilities of mid-life. And, this reviewer believes, gets at the heart of a dynamic about middle life that perhaps has been ignored or failed to be noticed and which the successful resolution of can perhaps aid us in navigation this aspect of adulthood with greater clarity and peace. “We begin to believe that our biography is our identity. We forget that who we really are -that interplay between our bodies, minds, and spirits-is a beautiful mystery and not simply the sum total of our life events.”
Grant then takes us on an autobiographical review of her life, and this reviewer thinks, allows us to go along and do an autobiographical review of our own. (Much like being led through a museum tour with a guide who understands the art.)
Along the way,
…we are faced with the numerous dynamics of raising and then letting go of our children as they become adults and launch (hopefully) into a good trajectory.
…we are forced to deal with what Jung called our ‘shadow’ side and realize that we are not as good as we think we are.
… we go though the grief and pain regarding a loved one whose life comes to an end before one thinks that it is supposed to and we have many different loose-ends that we cannot tie up.
…the challenge of choosing to stay in a marriage and listening to a wise marital counselor say “We all think our marriages will heal our childhood injuries,” he said, leaning forward in his chair. “But in every marriage, husbands and wives must learn that instead of healing us, issues with our spouses actually open up our old wounds. The couples who last are the ones who work through that pain to a new place, a place of gratitude for what they really have together.”
…and learning to be satisfied in our life and work
The painting(s) that Grant leaves us with is a beautiful view of the middle of life with all of its cracks, imperfections, but a set of new hopes.
When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? would be a great book for discussion by couples, families, religious education groups, and in counseling. I really liked this book as it has given me a great deal to think about.
I gave this book a four star rating on Goodreads.
Note: I received an electronic galley of this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.