Life On Purpose: Embracing Gray Adolescence

One of the greatest things I get to do in life is meet other women through the times I get to serve as a speaker at events. I never know who God is going to cross my paths with. I never can predict how a conversation at my book table might result in the beginning of something more.

I had the privilege of meeting Rebecca at a conference and immediately could see the promise of what God might have in store for her. It’s been such a blessing to get to know her since that time. Although she has chosen for me to walk through this season of her life as her life coach, I’m awed by the way God speaks to me through our sessions. She is a woman of a great perseverance, wisdom, and humility. I pray you take her words as a call to action and embrace a time of reflection with the Lord.


As I approach retirement age, I have found myself in a “gray adolescence.” The happy thought of entering a time of rest is just a few short years away. Did you know that that the word “retire” actually means “to draw back”? It suggests meanings like “to go away,” and “to withdraw to a private, secluded place.”  The most apropos definition is this cheerful thought, “to give up one’s work, business, career, etc. because of advanced age.” Ugh.

I recall sitting at my desk during a dull afternoon in fifth grade calculating how old I would be in the year 2000. Almost 50! It seemed like an impossibly long way off.

Now I often find myself calculating my “shelf life.” How many years do I have left?

The years seem ridiculously short now. I find myself restless and searching, like a high school senior. I am more interested in “commencement” than in withdrawing to a secluded place.

In ten days I will be 65. I have received a slew of letters and emails about signing up for Medicare. I look at each one as if it were intended for my mother. Yes, I have developed a new case of denial.

Life on Purpose: Embracing Gray Adolescence

I have this recurring thought that 65 is actually the new 30.

Stay with me here! I assume that I have about 30 more years to live. Ninety-five seems like a reasonable estimate for an aging person with no medical issues. My recent life insurance policy projected my benefits out to 121 years of age! Wow! I could have a whole other lifetime of 56 years yet to live.

Thirty years ago, I was 35 and starting the job I have today.

It makes me wonder how much could happen, how much I could accomplish, how much I could grow and change, and what else I could do in that 30 years?

Though I am wrapping up a “successful” life in the world’s terms, internally, I am an adolescent.

Is there time to find my true purpose?

What do I want to be when I grow up this time? 

What does my soul cry to do with these years I have left?

At 35 I was a newlywed who had put off the question of having children. I had silently decided to wait until I was mature enough not to totally mess up a child’s life. One afternoon, I realized I would die someday. I was finally leaving that prolonged first adolescence and growing up. What did I want to say about my life as I lay in my deathbed? I felt a terrible emptiness and knew that I would not feel that I had lived my life completely if I did not have a child. So we did! This is not the answer to my current dilemma, although the desire to love some beautiful little grandchildren in the next few years gives me great hope.

It seems that the 1970 girl’s self-focused desire to “find myself” through self-actualization (notice the word “self” three times in that short sentence!) has morphed into a profound desire to leave a Godly touch on the earth I must leave someday soon-ish.

Though I have done some good in the life I have lived, I have come to a point where I ask if I can possibly do something else, something God has specifically called me to do.

Not to be famous, not to be wealthy, not to make a name for myself, perhaps just something that will matter in eternity.

I no longer need to redeem myself because Jesus has redeemed and renewed me.

But there is a longing to allow God to define this last stage in a way that will advance His desires.

What do you feel like God may want to accomplish in your life presently as you consider the next season? 


Rebecca Faulkner Manelski is a writer, counselor, and educator who loves sharing God’s healing grace with those who have struggled with addiction, abuse, abandonment, grief, and depression.  On the brink of turning 65, she is seeking the Lord’s path for a new season of communicating, comforting, and encouraging women who seek freedom in Christ.

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