Between parenting older children, managing the increasing needs of our parents, and struggling to juggle our home, work, and relationships; the needs and challenges we face in our midlife years are often overwhelming. But we don’t have to handle it all alone. In this article, Susan Macias shares her own experience of taking her challenges at midlife to the Lord and offers 5 encouraging prayers to help you pray Scriptures over your own midlife challenges this season.
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Nothing prepared me for the challenges of midlife. As a young mom, I was surrounded by spilled milk, shoes that needed to be tied, and noses that needed to be wiped. I thought, Boy, I can’t wait until the kids get older. Life will get so much easier!
But then midlife arrived with older kids. Although everyone could now wipe their own noses—and every other part of their anatomy—the messes and challenges were bigger than spilled milk. And cleaning those messes up required more than a paper towel.
FACING CHALLENGES AT MIDLIFE
My midlife years ushered in an entirely new realm of parenting. My no-longer babies, with their ricocheting hormones and emotions—the same ones who had begged for more attention just a few years ago—started snarling when I walked in the room. Yet I couldn’t back off parenting. They now faced temptations and teachings that would direct their worldview into adulthood. Vigilance was required.
Midlife challenges certainly aren’t limited to parenthood. Our parents’ needs can increase as well. And we should help the people who not only gave us life, but also made sacrifices to raise us. But helping requires time and energy, the two commodities of which we have the least amount.
Marriage requires lots of attention in these years, too. It is easy to let that relationship slide since this adult is the one person in our life we hope is self-sufficient. But nothing flourishes without attention, especially relationships. Husbands and wives are designed to need each other. If our husband’s needs are the thing that pushes us over the edge, irritating us simply by the fact that the need exists, he will either become angry or retreat, depending on his personality.
And don’t forget about our jobs! Every career requires more and more time and effort in order to advance. Where does this fit into this crazy mix?
A SEASON OF JUGGLING
I admire people who juggle, probably because I am totally inept at the skill. They start with three balls then add in another and another and another, keeping them all soaring through the air. How do they do that?
I can’t juggle, but I’m epic at attempting to juggle people and their needs. The logistics of managing our family of seven kids and a husband with a time-demanding job stretched me to my limit. It seemed like every time I got things reasonably under control, someone threw another two or three balls into the mix.
Balls dropped, needs weren’t met, people were disappointed or angry or hurt; and I felt like handing in my resignation letter. The trouble was, I couldn’t find anyone to take it. There is no resigning from our God-given roles within our families.
Starting in the Wrong Place
As midlife challenges grew and failures increased, I finally reached out to the Lord. You might have noticed the problem already. Did you catch it? I spent years pulling up my bootstraps and trying harder and making more lists while giving Jesus a perfunctory nod. I put my confidence in my flesh and my ability to make it all work—if I just tried hard enough.
But Jesus wasn’t just another ball to throw into my juggling mix. I needed to start with Him. He was my Refuge in which to hide and to find comfort. He was my Strength to help me meet others’ needs. And He was my Joy when dinner was burnt and everyone was grumpy.
When I finally slowed down enough to ask Jesus for help, He stood prepared with solutions. He showed me how to pray Scripture over my challenges. Now that I stand on the other side of the midlife divide, I still need these prayers. Every stage holds its own challenges, and my best answers always lie in the Lord’s provision.
ANCHORED ON THE ROCK
As we try to meet the needs of our people, we can easily fall into the trap of finding validation in how well we perform, what our kids achieve, our salary or work position, or what others think about us.
To meet the everyday challenges that exist in this season of life, we must begin with our feet on the Rock. Jesus must be where our feet stand anchored while we pray.
Titus 3:4-6 states, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
Where is Your Security?
When Jesus saved us, it was “not because of works done by us in righteousness.” Let that wash over you again and again, finding your security in the fact that you can’t mess your way out of Jesus’ love. Then let His mercy wash over you, regenerating and renewing you in the Holy Spirit.
The power of the Holy Spirit enables us to meet every challenge with the fuel of His power. What a relief that nothing about our relationship with the Lord depends upon our performance!
With the Rock as our foundation, let’s get down to the business of praying.
5 PRAYERS TO HELP YOU MANAGE A MESSY MIDLIFE
1. So Much To Do
I am a ‘doer’. A maker of lists. An organizer. I have a label maker and I’m not afraid to use it. I can rely on my flesh and not realize I’ve built my house on the sand until the crashing waves start washing my family away.
In my ‘too-much-for-one-person-to-do’ life, a mindset change was required. There are two parts to this prayer that come from two different Scriptures. Both were needed for me to address the complexity of the issue.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
First, as I faced another day with more items on my to-do list than minutes in my day, I had to remember whose Kingdom mattered. Mine or God’s? I needed to ask the Lord to show me what really mattered and what His assignments were for me.
The second part comes from a passage in Philippians: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content… I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11,13).
This reminded me that whether a good or bad day lay ahead of me, I could be content. Why? Because Jesus strengthens me.
PRAYER: Oh Jesus, as I face today, please show me what is Your priority so that Your Kingdom is built. And Lord, when I feel overwhelmed by what faces me, please strengthen me and help me stay content in Your arms, no matter what happens.
2. So Many Worries
Our kids’ school grades, our parents’ health, our husband’s struggles, our neighbors’ needs, our church’s programs, our own jobs—the list goes on and on. Frankly, our worries are legitimate.
In Philippians, the Lord lets us know how to handle worries. When worried, we are supposed to: rejoice, be reasonable, do not be anxious; pray, and wait for His peace. Rinse and repeat. With every worry.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7).
PRAYER: Lord, You intimately know all these worries and needs in my life. Thank You for being right here with me in the middle of it all. I feel anxious about ________________, but I thank You for the problem and put it in Your hands to work on. Please send Your peace to replace my worry.
3. So Many To Love
While I have always loved my family, I haven’t always liked every single member. In fact, there were times I didn’t like anyone. Including myself!
I kept asking the Lord to give me the love I lacked. But then I found a passage in Romans 4 that changed my prayers, especially when I struggled in marriage or with a particularly challenging child.
“As it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17).
I know this Scripture doesn’t sound like a typical ‘love’ verse, but Abraham’s example of faith when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac painted an amazing picture. I started to ask Jesus to bring back to life love that had died and create love that had not yet existed. And you know what? He did! Every time I’ve prayed this prayer, He has regenerated my love in new and amazing ways.
PRAYER: Lord, thank You for my people. I confess I am struggling to love them right now. Please bring back to life the love that has died. And create love in me that reflects Your never-ending, undeserved, unconditional love. Please give me that kind of love for others, especially my husband and children.
4. So Tired
Jeremiah 31:25 says, “For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.” Isn’t that good news? The Lord doesn’t condemn my weary and languishing soul. Instead He plans on satisfying and replenishing it.
And if He does that for my soul, He can also do that for my energy. He knows I am tired. Being weary when needs outweigh our strength is perfectly legitimate and part of our humanness. We aren’t condemned for that.
We also are not left helpless. A familiar passage in Isaiah 40 struck me in my midlife years when I was parenting three teenage boys. Having been raised with one sister and no brothers, I was wholly unprepared for the changes raging testosterone would bring, from appetites to attitudes. I felt outnumbered and outgunned.
“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31).
If youths and young men (THREE teenage boys, remember) get weary and fall exhausted, then I, a middle-aged woman, certainly would! But the answer, according to this passage, wasn’t more effort; it was waiting on the Lord.
PRAYER: Oh Lord, I am so tired. Physically, mentally, spiritually, and intellectually worn out; I place myself in Your hands and wait for You and Your renewal. I am fainting and stumbling. So I ask You to give me the power to serve You through serving my family’s needs. I have no might so I ask You to increase my strength. Thank You that You never run out of resources.
5. So Many Needs
The needs of our busy lives can overwhelm us. But I had to train myself to take my eyes off the challenges and instead focus on all the Lord promises to do in my life.
I could trust Him with my life and with all the people in my life. I could lift up every need to Him. And then this Scripture helped me release a burden I hadn’t realized I was carrying:
“Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things” (Psalm 107:8-9).
I have never been able to satisfy the needs of others, even those I love the most. I am not equipped to do so. Actually, it was rather presumptuous of me to think I could. God alone can satisfy the soul. I needed to release what God had not asked me to do in the first place.
PRAYER: “Lord, please help me see what, of the many needs that face me, You have assigned to my care. Help me trust You enough to leave undone what is not my responsibility. And please direct my people’s hearts to You to find the satisfaction and fulfillment they long for.”
MID-LIFE CHALLENGES ARE REAL!
Yes, the needs and challenges we face in our midlife years can threaten to overwhelm us. They would have overwhelmed me except for the Lord and His work in my life.
When I realized that God never asked me to do half of what I had taken on, I found new relief. And when I saw that His plan was for me to rely on Him in my weakness, I found the challenges a reminder to press closer to my Savior and find my strength in Him.
His arms are open for you in each stage. Run! He is waiting to help.
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I hear you!
Nothing prepared me for the joyful (but exhausting) explosion of life in every direction as my kids grew and my parents aged!
Thank you for sharing your wisdom with candor!
Thanks Michele! I love your description: explosion of life!
So, good and so needed this morning. I have three boys 18 plus and a little 8 year old girl. I’ve been feeling so tired lately trying to manage all that I’ve got going on in ministry and in home. This really spoke to me. Thank you.
You are in a tough spot Tammy! That is a big stretch of parenting! I’m so glad you found this helpful. Press into the Lord – He will carry you!