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Stepping Onstage for the Second Act
By Sharina Smith

I recently turned 41. With horror, I realized I was now closer to age 60 than age 21. The first act of my life was over; the second act was well underway. This hit me pretty hard. I'll share my epiphany with you.

On my 41st birthday, I wasn't too comfortable realizing that I was now closer to age 60 than age 21! Ironically enough, I felt more grown up when I was 21 than I do now! I don't feel old enough to be middle aged!

I once read a description of the stages of life that split our statistically projected years on earth into three acts. Act I, Birth to 40; Act II, 40 to 60; Act III, 60 to 80. As I step onstage for the second act, I hate to admit that I wasted most of the time I was given in Act I. Many of those years were spent chasing the elusive promise of happiness in a man's arms or at a chair in the bar.

Now the pursuit of happiness seems even more complicated than those romantic happy hour dreams. Our world promises that if we forty-somethings only have more of the right stuff and spend more of the right kind of highly interactive time with our children and spouses and careers and workout routines and spiritual growth plans, then and only then will we be happy.

In the time that has past since my birthday, I have been contemplating what I should do next in the pursuit of happiness. It seemed apparent that, besides losing 100 pounds and spending more time with my family, I really needed to pursue that Ph.D. I had been advised to pursue when I was in my bookish, grade-pursuing teens.

Singing in church yesterday morning, I realized that what I really need to pursue is time just to be. Time just to be with God, time just to be by myself, time just to be with my family, time just to be with my friends. Sadly, looking at the PowerPoint on the screens, I couldn't remember the last time I just sat and gazed upon a beautiful sunset that wasn't a part of the PowerPoint background I was preparing for church.

As I step onstage for the second act of life, what my poet's heart longs for is not another graduate degree. It is a place at the feet of Jesus, to share the poems on my heart and to hear his sweet words of encouragement.

What is your heart longing for? To do more or to be more? No matter what stage of life you are in, it is my guess Jesus is calling you to step off the path of worldly pursuits and just be with Him.

(c) 2005 Sharina Smith. All rights reserved.
Born in Chicago to a Sicilian immigrant and an aspiring painter, Sharina Smith moved to Missouri in 1970. She left the Ozarks to attend college and pursue a business career. Today she has returned with her husband, Chuck, and their combined family of four children. Sharina is a poet, writer, and singer. Her book Shout for Joy: Poems from the Journey is available at www.sharinasmith.com.
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