Twenty-five years ago, I met with a mentor who was a survivor of the same cancer as me for consolation and advice.
At the moment, what he told me seemed blunt and unempathetic. (He was a college middle linebacker.)
He told me that how I responded to this trial would make me either better or bitter. By Divine grace, I decided as best I could to allow it to make me better.
Words cannot express my gratitude for being allowed to live. During the dark times of unrelenting anxiety, I resolved to live each day with intention, acutely aware of my mortality.
I wrote a mission statement and yearly goals to live each day as if it was a gift, which it is for all of us.
Now I am at a new season of life, some call it the second half. During this last year, I noticed a shift inside of me.
In the first half of life, we are naturally and correctly preoccupied with discovering and establishing our identities.
I found meaning from risk-taking, climbing, achieving, belonging, and performance for others’ approval.
I searched for my uniqueness in the community, and faith was all about being productive for God.
We all are busy about life until we hit that moment when we pause to humbly ask ourselves,
“Is this really what life is supposed to be?”
“Is life more than checking experiences off my bucket list?”
Or, as David Brooks described as just living at a higher state of selfishness.
Towards the second half of life, there is a gradual loss of certainty, more vulnerability, and the letting go of success.
Our faith is about simply being with God. About finding a safe place where we can be my true selves and feel unconditionally loved.
As we age, there is a realization that what got you here won’t get you there. And there is a mystery to what there even is.
Something is always given up. It differs for each person, but it is usually something central to one’s identity.
We must let go of striving after success and significance to embark on an inward journey of openness and discovery.
It involves challenges, loss of control, befriending our brokenness, and necessary suffering to shock us out of our comfort zone.
Eventually, we need to see ourselves, the Divine, and our world from the heart, not the head. We cannot see life differently if we are racing around trying to defend our busy lifestyle and avoid death.
Over the past several years, I’ve been intentional about living a more contemplative lifestyle. I’ve set aside time for solitude, silence, to feel, to reflect, and for prayer.
I’ve reached Medicare age, and I just completed a 15-month training program to become a spiritual director. Reflecting upon my journey, I sense a shift has happened within me.
I’ve gone through the wall.
There is no going back.
I’m in the second half of life. Being a health professional is no longer my primary identity.
Being a spiritual companion is.
Some of you might have noticed a change in some of the recent emails I’ve sent. Some of you probably didn’t notice.
Future posts to you will focus on integrating spirituality, as you define it, into your vocation.
I will write about a spirituality that works for the two halves of life.
I will continue to speak to therapists who are striving to do the work they love for the people they love. But you’ll find less pragmatic guidance on starting and growing a successful practice.
I will continue to mentor therapists who want sage advice on meaningful work and growing a business.
Lastly, I am offering spiritual direction to those who want to deepen their relationship with God.
I look forward to an ongoing conversation and perhaps a deeper connection through mentoring or spiritual direction.