Every 7 seconds, another “Baby Boomer” turns 50...
That’s a lot of “MIDLIFERS!”
Along with many physical and emotional changes, midlife can bring a deluge of spiritual questions:
Christian author and gerontologist Dr. Sharon V. King welcomed her 50th birthday asking these same questions. In the Introduction to her book, The Spiritual Fitness Checkup for the 50-Something Woman, she writes:
“The view from my 50th birthday was quite different from what I had anticipated. As a Christian, I was ready to start cataloging everything from the first 50 years of my life for which I wanted to thank God—and all the issues I genuinely needed to discuss with Him in considerable detail. But, as the cataloging progressed, unusual items surfaced—doubt, regret, loss, resentment, disappointment—feelings that were far less rosy than the pink icing on my birthday cake.”
Realizing that thousands of other “50-something” women may have the same feelings about their official entry into midlife, Sharon set out to apply her knowledge of aging to her spiritual questions and help other women find their way through the midlife maze and, revive (or discover) the joys that come from a closer walk with God at this unique crossroads of life.
Organizing the book like a visit to the doctor’s office for a routine physical, Sharon presents 10 spiritual fitness “checkups” and exercises to help you take your own midlife “Spiritual Pulse Check.” You will learn how to:
These Spiritual Pulse Checks can be used by individuals or for group discussion points. It is Sharon’s hope that The Spiritual Fitness Checkup for the 50-Something Woman will help readers adopt the same attitude toward their spiritual health as they do their physical health, and strive to maintain a vibrant relationship with God.
Raised in an education-loving family, Dr. Sharon King came of age during the civil rights and women’s rights era of the 60s and 70s. She followed her family’s belief that education plus a deep commitment to God and service to others equals success. She earned a doctoral degree in sociology with a focus on religion and aging.
When Sharon crossed her own midlife threshold, she had an experience that prompted her to re-think what really mattered in life.
To celebrate her 50th, she travelled to Washington, DC to research her grandfather’s genealogy at the Library of Congress and found herself in the middle of the September 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon. Rushing to leave the city and unable to take a flight back home to Atlanta, she drove her rental car 600 miles to get home. “I had plenty of time to think about life and just how quickly it can end,” she says. “That was when I took up journaling to do my own midlife review to see just where I stood with God.”
Dr. King has written three books, of which The Spiritual Fitness Checkup for the 50-Something Woman is the first to be published. Her two other books are currently under review by publishers. One is more autobiographical, titled Midlife Reflections from the 23rd Psalm. The second book is Meditations from the Spirituals for Today’s Working Woman.
An Atlanta resident, she works at a university coordinating international programs and sponsors a “Goats for Grandparents” charity that funds the purchase of goats for older women and their grandchildren in Kenya.
Sharon's love of writing is shared with other authors through her editorial service, King’s Ransom Writing and Editing Service and her blog "Women of Color Writing for Christ."
Author Interview—Getting to Know Sharon King
Your 50th birthday arrived the day after the 9/11 disaster, and resulted in a new way of thinking.
After the September 11th tragedy, I felt guilty celebrating a birthday as the rest of the world mourned the anniversary of this national disaster. Two family members also died on or near my birthday. I sought God’s help to understand these birthday tragedies. Soon, I saw my birthday as a time for thanksgiving. I realized that life and death come wrapped in the same package as gifts from God—both are surrounded by His love and mercy. I value life now as too precious to waste on the trivial things that clutter our day-to-day living. I fret less and celebrate more.
What’s so special about midlife as a time for a spiritual “checkup?”
Midlife is the best possible reminder that we’re not going to be around forever. We’re so consumed with the business of transitioning from youth (teens and 20s) to adulthood (30s), we don’t have time to slow down enough to ponder what it all means. We seek education, choose a career, find a mate, decide where to live, and raise our children. That’s fulltime work! We may forget to put God on our list of things to do. By midlife, we have more time to put on the brakes for a while to think more than do. God takes the initiative at this point to nudge us into deeper reflection about our relationship with Him, and He prepares us for a new stage of life.
There’s a ton of books for Christian women on the market. What makes yours unique?
When I compiled my thoughts to create this book, I considered the Christian women's books that appealed to me. I enjoyed books that were “light” as opposed to “heavy.” Books that helped relate Christian spirituality to contemporary living (with a touch of humor) appealed to me more than books that just “threw” the Bible at me. Another quality I enjoyed was brevity—easy to read yet loaded with spiritual insights to chew on. Finally, I enjoyed books that connected my spirituality with the seemingly mundane parts of my life, showing me that God didn’t wait until Sunday morning to show me how He fit into my life. I tried to incorporate those qualities into the Spiritual Fitness Checkup.
3 Steps to Aging Gracefully:
1. Enjoy the journey. Unfortunately, our youth-loving society has taught women to fear aging. Slowly but surely, the word is getting out that the second 50 years of life can be as fulfilling and possibly more exciting than the first.
2. Remain flexible. Even though our second 50 years may be exciting, that doesn’t mean they won’t be full of change. We can choose to manage changes creatively and positively or be victim to them. We hear the word “reinvent” a lot for women facing midlife years. It’s more than media hype; it’s a spiritual doctrine. Who knows more about “making all things new” than God?
3. Don’t go it alone. We all should seek social support as we move into later life, no matter our life status. That support may or may not come from our families. It may be in the form of a group or a single individual—face to face or across the internet. We gain perspective as we hear that others are traveling and have traveled this same journey. It’s essential we can avoid isolating ourselves, which can lead to depression. We can reach out to women in other cultures or with lifestyles very different from ours and learn just how universal this aging business really is.
Leave a comment below to be entered in the drawing for an opportunity to win the special giveaway. If you already are, or set it up to follow this blog through blog frog or google friend connect (see the right side margin for info) and mention it in your comment below, you'll be entered into the drawing twice!). Here's the prize:
Win a perfect New Year's gift for yourself or a 50-something woman relative or friend, with a free copy of the The Spiritual Fitness Checkup for the 50-Something Woman: Ten Steps Toward Midlife Spiritual Health. As a bonus, you also will receive services from the author's editing business, King's Ransom Writing and Editing Service, for up to fifty pages of double-spaced manuscript (book, articles, etc.). With this giveaway, you will receive more than proofreading. Sharon also offers writing assistance, tips, points out bad writing habits, etc. It's a writing analysis as well as editing. This has a value of up to $350. But wait, there's more! You also will receive a special discount editing rate of fifty cents per page (Some editors charge $5 to $10 per page!) if you sign a full manuscript-editing contract with King’s Ransom. Quite the giveaway!