Sunday, June 12, 2011

What next?

You aren't known as one of the best composers of all time because your last name is Mozart. It's because you can play the hell out of a harpsichord.
- MeLissa Gavarrette

I'm having a midlife crisis. I'm pretty sure of it. It's a little late to be having one, as I don't expect I will live to be 110; thus it is more like a 2/3-life crisis. Or it's a bout of ennui. 

It's not an identity crisis. I'm not wondering,"Who am I?" I'm wondering, "Who am I now?" 

When you're in your 20's you are in a rush to know, "Who will I be?  What will I do with my life?".  There is absolutely no way you can know the answer to this at this age, even if you've known you wanted to play the harpsichord since you were 3. Life will throw you curve balls. Someone will invent the Fender Rhodes. You can't imagine. 

Also, life will reinvent you. Several times. Just since I was 20, I have been:

An English major
A drama major
A music major
A member of a singing group
An advertising copywriter
A special events planner
A marketing manager
A studio singer
A songwriter
A bride
A mom
A recording artist
A backup singer
A concert artist
A speaker
A book author
A PTA volunteer
A church choir member
A Sunday School teacher
A minister's wife
A band parent
A football mom
A church staff member
A worship leader
A missions volunteer
A grandmother
A poet 
A painter
A runner
A gardener
A blogger

Okay, blogging didn't exist when I was dreaming of who I would be at 20. So. 

A mid-life crisis, if that is what I'm having, feels like this:  "Who have I really been in life?" And, "Who will I be now?" And "Am I done?"  (That last question is particularly terrifying. And ridiculous. Of course I'm not done. Although sometimes it feels like it.)

Here is a typical week in my mid-life crisis:

On Monday, a friend is taking her grandkids to the park, and I think, "Yeah, that's what I want to do. I don't want to work. I just want to stay home and garden, have lunch with my friends and pick up my grandson after school.  I just want to be Super Grandmother.  I need some more playground equipment in my back yard."

On Tuesday, I sit next to a woman in her seventies who is an awesome prayer warrior, has taught women's Bible studies for fifty years. I watch her and think that's what I want to be remembered for. That's what I want to be doing in my seventies. I'm starting another Bible study next week for sure. 

On Wednesday, we have a guest songwriter at choir, a woman who is not quite my age, who has just written her 50th choral work. I think, "Why did I stop songwriting?  I think I've written probably 35 choral works. What the heck?" I also think I want the really cool blue top she's wearing. 

On Thursday, I read something about Beth Moore. "Damn," I think. "I wanted to be a big time Bible teacher like that.  I could be hanging out with Anne Graham Lotz.  There could be a whole Karla Worley workbooks section in LifeWay stores."

On Friday I see an ad for the Tony Awards and realize what I really wanted to do was be a Broadway star. 

When I catch myself thinking like this, I know I have started living a Me-Story, not a God-Story, that I am looking at my life at "I"-level, which is a miserable vantage point, whether you are starting out in life, midway through or nearly to the finish line—even if, or especially if, you are a hell of harpsichord player. I rather doubt that anyone in the Bible wondered, as they were in the thick of it, how their chapter would turn out. They could not have imagined the Bible. And the Bible is after all God's story, not theirs, not ours. Jesus, who only lived to be 33, came to the end of his life and was able to say, in the garden of Gethsemane, "I have finished the work You gave me to do." 

I have finished the work You gave me to do. 

I am, in fact, at a kind of "What next?" place in life. Change is afoot. But the truth is, though we don't always feel it as keenly as at major milestones, we all wake up and live out that question every day: "What next?"

And I do want to be a super-grandmother, an award winning songwriter, a powerful Bible teacher AND a Broadway star.  But here is the measure of success:  "I have finished the work You gave me to do."


  1. wow. WOW. I currently have the same questions while I am experiencing my 1/3 life crisis.

  2. And see I thought I was the only one who has multiple personality disorder! Truth is you HAVE accomplished so very much . . . it's the yearning to be more that keeps you from being boring to us and lukewarm to God. Love always, Cindy

  3. Ahh, dear Karla. You forgot to say what an awesome friend you are!

    As for me, no matter what you choose to do next, I'm so pleased to know Karla Worley for the warm, witty, God-fearing, desiring-to-know-Him-more, creative, lovable woman she is.

    In the end, its about His life flowing through us that makes our journey wonderful. To come to know who we were always meant to be. "For in Him we live and move and have our being".... and not to mention, "Christ in me, the hope of glory"!

    Love you so much - looking forward to more time together ;)


  4. Did you get into my mailbox and read all my mail? Because you just spoke my language. You inspire me.