Have you ever heard the expression "The Tired Thirties"? I read it in a Christmas letter one year and it dawned on me....I am tired! Whatever label you put on it, it is the time of life that can wear you out and wear you down in a hurry.
What is that makes us thirty-somethings so tired? Here's a short list:
1. Careers/Jobs: Most of us are in a busy and demanding period in our careers. We've left the entry-level positions and moved up to positions with more demands, responsibilities, and pressures. Or we've changed courses and are starting new careers or are at new workplaces. In my house, Darren was just recently promoted to partner and I am *trying very hard* to finish my Phd coursework (read: at least 30 hours a week).
2. Kids/Family: Parenting is a demanding and exhausting job. It is well worth it and infinitely rewarding, but I won't lie: it's hard work. Most thirty-somethings are rearing at least one child if not more and just the daily grind of feeding, bathing, teaching, protecting, and cleaning up after our clans can leave us physically and emotionally depleted. And this is true for all types of families: the stay-at-home mom or dad, the working mom or dad, and especially the single mom or dad. The two kids at my house are bundles of endless energy-each with different needs and personalities for us to nurture and develop, each attending two different schools for us to be involved in, and each with various other activities that demand our time and energy.
3. Volunteer work/church involvement: In spite of our tiredness (or maybe because of it?) thirty-somethings are hanging onto our idealism and desire to stay rooted in our communities. Darren and I are involved with Younglife (wanna go to the Young Life Arlington banquet with me? leave a comment and I'll get back to you!), Servlife, and one small little homegroup of thirty-somethings with 16(!) children when we're all together!
4. Angst: Some people picture thirty-somethings as those who've got it together. We're the "young families" who are involved and integral to the life of churches and organizations. We've arrived at the mystical land of adulthood. We've passed the instability of the twenties, but haven't reached the middle-aged crises of the forties and fifties. But what is true much of the time is that we have a great deal of angst with regard to the previous categories: Am I doing this parenting thing right? Am I really making a difference at work? What good am I doing in my world? Should I change careers? Is my faith sincere and real? Am I certain about the object of my faith? Is certainty even the goal? Is any of this true? The truth is we're still on a faith journey and still haven't answered those deep questions we started on in our twenties.
I suppose that at the end of such a description, I should leave you with some thoughts on how to navigate the "tired thirties" or how to minister to those who are in the midst of this season....but alas, I'm too tired! Seriously, I do have some thoughts, but let's do it this way: you leave your thoughts, suggestions, advice and next time it's my turn (two weeks from today) I'll post a list compiling everybody's suggestions, including mine. Comment away!