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Boomer Journeys – Discovering an Exciting Life

We baby boomers grew up in the ’60’s, a time of rebellion. We were raised by parents who remembered the horror of war and thought in terms of duty. They told us what we should do. The oldest boomers rebelled. Woodstock was their answer to yet another war, one which made no sense. But for the m…
By Seth Barnes

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We baby boomers grew up in the ’60’s, a time of rebellion. We were raised by parents who remembered the horror of war and thought in terms of duty. They told us what we should do.

The oldest boomers rebelled. Woodstock was their answer to yet another war, one which made no sense. But for the most part, we boomers assimilated the values of our parents and thought in terms of duty. My parents sent me to a progressive school, but expected that I enroll in ROTC. My response was to do the bare minimum to meet their expectations, but even as I forged my own path, it didn’t deviate from the values I’d inherited.

Living a life defined by what you should do only takes you so far. When the kids grow up and the house empties, suddenly you find yourself asking the question “Why?” more frequently. Why I do I have this job that doesn’t feel fulfilling? Why would I keep doing this job when I don’t see it making a difference in life? Why wouldn’t I look into alternative career paths?

And when questions like those don’t get answered, many boomers find that the restlessness they feel sends them journeying, looking for better ways to live, looking for causes to give themselves to.

1. Inventing new paths

Mark Gottlieb is a boomer whose mother taught him that molds are made to be broken. She was an architect who apprenticed under Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West. He loved to tinker and find better solutions to human problems.

Life as an inventor always seemed to be boom or bust. But over time, Gottlieb learned how to patent his ideas and bring them to market.

As a completed Jew, Gottlieb knew he had good news to share. He has channeled his drive to help build the kingdom through a variety of ministries ranging from Jill’s House in Virginia, to ICM in India and Greater Hope Schools in Uganda. Mark and his wife Sharon love to get their hands dirty and stay involved with those they give to. And back home, Mark continues his work as an inventor.

2. Starting over

Bob and Becky Corder fell in love in high school. Becky summarizes what happened next: “Bob was a state trooper for ten years and then built his own construction company over the last 20 years.  I became a stay-at-home mom and homeschooled all three kids until a year ago when our last child left for college.”

They became World Race coaches and enjoyed it so much they decided to go into ministry together overseeing long-term missions for Adventures. It has been a wild ride ever since. Last month they were in Guatemala. Today, they are in Cambodia, and then a month in Thailand after that.

3.  Following a call

The Purdy family always seemed to march to the tune of a different drummer. Donna homeschooled the five children, showing them that, while books are great for learning, often the best learning comes through experience.

But although Sterling was a top salesman with his pharmaceutical company, he couldn’t help feeling that the family was being called to do something more. The family loves adventure and decided to travel the world until their money ran out. Eventually, they sold their house and settled in Baños, Ecuador where they are starting a ministry to backpackers.

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If you feel stuck in your job and you wish that you had more purpose, you’d be surprised to know how normal you are. According to Gallup, people who are unhappy in their jobs outnumber those who are happy by two to one. Only 13% feel engaged by their jobs. Almost 2/3 are not engaged.

If you’re living in the status quo, maybe you’ll find it freeing to know its meaning is “the mess you’re in.” Maybe it’s time to recognize that the status quo doesn’t have to be your destiny. There is a big world filled with possibilities out there.

It’s a righteous thing to ask the question, “Is there more?” Too many of us won’t take the risk of even wrestling with it. A good place to start is to consider looking around and broadening your perspective. Here are four steps you could take:

Inventory – Make a list of your assets

Options – Do some research. Find your top three options and discuss with friends.

Journeys – Take a trip or try an experiment like the Purdy family did. Get out of the box you’re living in. 

Listening – “What is God saying?” He made you for a purpose and he does have more for you.

Yes, this can seem a little scary, but God wants to give us the grace to grow. Without realizing it, fear may become a stronghold. Comfort too often is an idol for many of us. If we want to get out of the place in which we find ourselves, we would do well to learn from Jonah: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” Jonah 2:8

And what could be worse than dying with regrets? Or thinking, “What if I’d taken a chance when I was younger?” Too many people die that way.

How will you answer the question Mary Oliver asks, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

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