Friday, December 17, 2010
so This is why singles stay so busy ...
I was recently directed to Erik Erikson' Stages of Development and found it most interesting. Maybe I'm the last to know, as apparently it is included in most rudimentary Psychology classes. Maybe I was sick that day, or too busy seeking loving companionship per Stage 6? The latter is most likely the case.
I was directed to Erikson's theory when discussing the topic of dealing with aging parents with my brother. While I found all stages fascinating, of particular interest was Stage 7. But of course, because "IT'S ALL ABOUT ME!" after all, right? Well on my way through this 7th stage of my life's journey, I can confirm that it's all true. I've seen these truths in my life, my friends' lives and in the lives of the singles that we deal with.
7. Middle Adulthood: 35 to 55 or 65
Ego Development Outcome: Generativity vs. Self absorption or Stagnation
Basic Strengths: Production and Care
Now work is most crucial. Erikson observed that middle-age is when we tend to be occupied with creative and meaningful work and with issues surrounding our family. Also, middle adulthood is when we can expect to "be in charge," the role we've longer envied.
The significant task is to perpetuate culture and transmit values of the culture through the family (taming the kids) and working to establish a stable environment. Strength comes through care of others and production of something that contributes to the betterment of society, which Erikson calls generativity, so when we're in this stage we often fear inactivity and meaninglessness.
As our children leave home, or our relationships or goals change, we may be faced with major life changes—the mid-life crisis—and struggle with finding new meanings and purposes. If we don't get through this stage successfully, we can become self-absorbed and stagnate.
Significant relationships are within the workplace, the community and the family.
We want to contribute; make a difference. We want to pour into someone or a meaningful some-thing. We want to be the boss. Then we hit the mid-life crisis, everything suddenly shifts, and we have the opportunity to look back and decide if we did our job well. Yippee, right?
This stage must be particularly challenging for singles who have not yet married or had children of their own. They are left to find their fulfillment in more creative ways, such as excelling at their work, finding a family to blend into, or getting involved in teaching, mentoring or ministry. The article states: "If we don't get through this stage successfully, we can become self-absorbed and stagnate." Who wants to be that?
The good news is that this is no surprise to God. Psalm 139:16 tells us, "All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old." It is so hard to fathom that God knew ahead of time how we would struggle in life. But even in these struggles, he is working things out for our good, as long as we love and seek Him. (Romans 8:28)
So let's all take heart - and actively take part in our innate purpose. Whether you are single, newly wed, parenting small, oh-so impressional babes, conquering the world, or pondering the past, God has a purpose for every one of your days.