Comment: Crisis? What crisis? Men in Mid-life




Editor’s Note: I’m delighted to welcome Tony Horsfall as a Guest Writer here at Sorted Magazine. Tony is an experienced writer, retreat leader and all round good egg! He has a vast experience of ministry overseas and in a local church in the north of England. He is the author of several really helpful books, Including Rhythms of Grace, Spiritual growth in a Time of Change, and Working from a place of rest.

Tony writes: Mid-life is the transition from the first half of life to the second half. This transition normally occurs somewhere between the ages of 40 and 60, and may last anything from a few years to a decade.

It does not have to be a crisis, but it can be; for most it is a gradual change but with periods of more intense challenge. Navigated well it can lead to the most satisfying and fruitful period of our lives when we come to maturity as a person.

The passage into mid-life is characterised by some observable changes, the most common being physical, the greying of the hair and the failing of the eyesight, a more rotund appearance for some and a certain slowing down of pace on the sports field. There are inner changes too, perhaps a struggling to find meaning and purpose, and a wondering what life is all about. This psychological upheaval can be accompanied by emotional unsteadiness, a restlessness, and occasionally feelings of self-doubt or slight depression. At the same time there might be a seeking after a spiritual dimension to life, or for those who have had strong faith, a dip into doubt and a reviewing of belief. Often in this period we realise we are viewed differently by society, and are no longer ‘up and coming’ but part of the established order, which is disconcerting.

Not everyone will experience all these changes, but it is likely that you will experience some, and enough to disturb your equilibrium. Mid-life can present us with some serious challenges.

Identity – who am I without my role or the status given by my work? Am I to be defined by what I do, what I have, my performance or how others think of me? Who am I really when I stop pretending or living up to the expectations of others? This is a search for your true, authentic self, the person God made you to be in your uniqueness.

Lifestyle – often, because of the busyness of life and the constant pressure under which we live, the longing arises that there must be a better way to live. We feel that we want to step off the treadmill and adjust our pace, review our values. This reflects a natural movement from living in the external world to a desire to live more from the internal world. At this point people often discover and nurture the inner life and become more reflective.

Marriage – for those who are married the question arises, ‘Do I want to stay married or not?’ These thoughts often coincide with the celebration of a silver wedding, when children have grown up and the thought of living with the same person for another 25 years may seem daunting. The temptation to be unfaithful is very real. It can also be a time for marriage renewal, and the surprising discovery that marriage in later life can be even more satisfying than in the early years, but this requires perseverance.

Faith – a surprising number of men come to faith during the turmoil of mid-life, realising that they can’t navigate life alone and that they need help from outside themselves. Failure in life and the realisation that we are not as successful as we expected to be, can make us open to divine assistance. Those who have been de-constructing an inherited faith may well re-discover God in deeper ways, learning to live with mystery and being content not to have all the answers.

Future – an important question is: “What do I want to do with the rest of my life? Do I want to continue as I am, or is it time for a change? Do I have the courage to try something new?” Mid-life is a period when we can discover our vocation, that is what we were really made for, but this requires re-evaluation and the willingness to change, both exciting and daunting!

What will help us navigate mid-life successfully? Certainly it is vital to be open and honest and to find a trusted person with whom to share your deepest feelings and fears. This is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. Find a mentor, or life coach or even a spiritual director to whom you can talk and be accountable. Talk to friends and others on a similar journey.

Be assured that what is happening to you is quite normal. Mid-life is a life passage, a movement from one phase of life to another. While the journey is unique to each of us it is by no means unusual. Many have passed this was before. Some made bad choices and ended up shipwrecked, But others made good choices, and came to discover that the second half of life can be the most fulfilling period of all.

Tony Horsfall (

Spiritual Growth in a time of change (BRF, 2016)

Guest Writer

In the quest to bring you more insights Sorted includes interesting articles from specially selected Guest Writers. Each piece is carefully chosen and edited by our own Editorial Team to inform, inspire and entertain our readers.

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