You need a very strong container in the first half of life to hold the contents and contradictions that arrive later in life. You ironically need a very strong ego structure to let go of your ego. You need to struggle with the rules more than a bit before you throw them out. You only internalize values by butting up against other values for a while. All of this builds the strong self that can positively obey Jesus—and healthily “die to itself.” In fact, far too many have lived very warped and defeated lives because they tried to give up a self that was not yet there.
The first-half-of-life container is constructed through impulse controls, traditions, group symbols, family loyalties, basic respect for authority; civil and church laws, and a sense of the goodness, value, and special importance of your country, ethnicity, and religion (as for example, the Jews’ sense of their “chosenness” by Yahweh).
To quote Archimedes, you must have both “a lever and a place to stand” before you can move the world. The educated and sophisticated Western person today has many levers, but almost no solid place on which to stand; most of our people have very weak identities, and then terribly overstated identities. I am not sure which is worse. This tells me we are not doing the first-half-of-life task very well. How can we possibly get to the second?
Adapted from Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life,
Gateway to Silence:
Receive and reflect