Someone once told me that middle age was when your narrow waist line and broad mind swapped places. I have a feeling my middle aged spread operates on both levels, as I reckon I am far more broad minded now than I was twenty years ago, or maybe less certain anyway.
Today I received an email from someone loosely associated with church asking for help in thinking something through. As I reflected on how far their own thinking has moved in 4-5 years, I also thought about how my own approach to thinking through complex things has changed. At 45 my perspectives are far more tentative than they were at 25, and I am ever more reluctant to make any kind of pronouncements. It's not that I don't still have deeply held convictions, I do, but perhaps the way they are held is different (I am reminded of John Hull's work in his book 'What Stops Christian Adults from Learning' which I found very enlightening when I read it a few years back).
Life was certainly easier when I could condemn as ungodly or unchristian those perspectives I disagreed with, and I know lots of people in lots of churches operate in such a way (wherever they sit on theological spectra) but in a bizarre kind of a way, I think I actually prefer the muddledness I now have, which makes me more, not less, dependent on the grace and mercy of a God beyond my comprehension.
I hope my person found my thoughts helpful. I hope that I continue to wrestle with the issues that cross my path, and never return to a simplistic 'sorted' perspective. I also hope that 'pastoral pragmatism' never becomes careless condonement. To be muddled and mystified but authentic and honest seems to be an 'ok' place to be... at least for now!
PS It's not that being 45 is 'better' than being 25, or that the certainty of youth is wrong, it's something about being authentically who you are and not stagnating along the way.