Getting Old: a book review

Aging. Everbody does it,  nobody likes it (after their twenty-first birthday), and most of us like to pretend it doesn’t happen. I’m in my early forties and will milk that ‘early’ adjective as long as I reasonably can. I am still young enough to attack the day with verve, but I am old enough to have seen friends and former classmates pass away. I had my first major health scare this summer, which turned out to not be too serious, but I had to fess up to the fact that I’m too old to ignore these things. Already, my body doesn’t do everything I think it should. We age, and as we age we have to face our own entropic decay as we near our end of days. Send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee. 

PictureJennifer Grant is the former health and family columnist for the Chicago Tribune,  and author of four previous books, including editing the devotional Disquiet Time, (Jericho Books, 2014) and adoption memoir Love You More (Thomas Nelson, 2011). In When Did Everyone Else Get So Old? Indignities, Compromises and the Unexpected Grace of Midlife (Herald Press, 2017)she explores our ephemeral existence and what it means to grow old. With good humor and faith, she describes transition—sagging and emptying nests—the loss of friends and loved ones, and retooling vocation.

The nineteen chapters in this book are autobiographical essays on the theme of aging. Grant’s literary voice is reminiscent of Anne Lamott (minus the F-bombs), though her faith and life experience are different. She weaves her observations on life together with biblical and theological reflections.

I find Grant’s reflections on vocation, and wondering if she made her mark wholly relatable. This is a good read. I give it four stars and recommend it to everybody else getting old. I give it four stars. – ★★★★

Notice of material connection: I received a copy of this book from Handlebar Media in exchange for my honest review.

Midlife Mission, Not Midlife Crisis: a book review

I have a confession to make. I’m forty. I aged out in June and I am forced to face the fact that I’m statistically closer to the grave than the cradle. In many ways I don’t feel forty yet. I feel like I’m still becoming who I was meant to be. I don’t feel like I’m established. There is so much I had hoped to accomplish at this point,  there is security which has eluded me, such as a fulfilling job and  life success.

4434Authors Peter Greer and Greg Lafferty both have successful ministry careers.  Greer is the president and CEO of Hope International, a global micro-finance organization. Lafferty is the senior pastor of Willowdale Chapel in Jennersville, Pennsylvania.  Greer watched Lafferty navigate his forties and decided to learn from him about how he could avoid a midlife crisis and be propelled towards meaningful mission (17). 40/40 Vision: Clarifying Your Mission in Midlife is Greer and Lafferty’s call for us to reevaluate our lives and press into the things which matter.

Lafferty and Greer share vulnerability about their experience of aging. They also engage a third dialogue partner: Qoheleth. The author of Ecclesiastes provides insights on refocusing our life midstream.  Greer and Lafferty (and Qoheleth) address midlife (ch. 1), the meaninglessness of life (ch. 2), disappointment with our life not going how we had planned (ch.3), the lose of  ‘thrill'(ch. 4), facing mortality (ch. 5), growing in generosity (ch. 6), breaking the addiction to go-go-go (ch. 7), aging well (ch. 8),  deepening our relationships in midlife (ch. 9), relinquishing control (ch. 10), finding meaning outside of ‘a job’ (ch. 11), and living a life with lasting purpose (ch. 12).

In their introduction, Greer and Lafferty write, ” Our hope is that this is not just another self-help book loosely based on Christian principles or a list of ways to ease the symptoms of midlife. Rather, we want to address the underlying questions of midlife through the timeless wisdom fo Ecclesiastes. Although many issues in their forties, others face them in their thirties or fifities” (17-18). Sharing vulnerably from their life experience, they delve into each theme, highlighting the wisdom and insights of Ecclesiaties and exploring what it means to live life on mission in life’s latter half.

This book speaks meaningfully to me in a way I wish it did not. I would rather be young, invincible, and immortal. But the experience of forty means I have to face up to life and press forward knowing that reckoning and resurrection await those who fear God  and keep his commandments (183-184).  Greer and Lafferty’s conversational tone draws you and causes you to reflect on what life could be like moving forward.

I recommend this book for those near forty, those who are forty or fortyish, and those who saw forty a long time ago and still pretend they are forty. Greer and Lafferty show how Ecclesiastes speaks to midlife. I give this four stars.

Note: I received this book from IVP in exchange for my honest review.