We are all familiar with the idea of the mid life crisis which hits around the mid forties. Recent years have also seen a number of books written about the quarter life crisis that hits young adults at age 25, and of course there is the crisis that many twenty somethings hit as they turn 30. New research has found that now increasingly men are having crises at age 35.
Well is this all an attempt to sell books and newspapers. Well partly, but also I think that these crises which are essentially existential, are never really addressed at their cores. Thus our culture offers kinds of off-ramps from the freeway of existential crisis. In the past when you hit an existential crisis, you asked the deep questions of life, you examined your mortality, searched for God, stared at the stars and meditated on your cosmic smallness. Now when one of these moments hits, when the weak story that we are given by 21st century culture is exposed, instead of plumbing deeply for meaning, we exit at the off ramp – we leave our boyfriend/girlfriend, go backpacking across Chile, or join a Zumba class and wonder why these life-tweaks don’t provide us with deep meaning.
Without truly looking at our culture’s meaningless malaise we will continue to have these crises every five years or so. To have a life of meaning, is to live fully in a story. The narrative of scripture provides us not with off ramps but with a redemptive, robust story that we can truly live out of.