Late in evening on Thanksgiving day we received a text from Brandi asking if we were still awake. When I responded “yes”, she text, “good, I’m coming down”. Hmmm…We had not left her house that long ago so, we could not imagine why she would be coming to see us.
Because we live only a few doors down from her, it took less than 5 minutes before she was standing in our kitchen with pen and paper in hand. She smiled and announced, “I have to interview one of you for my Psychology class assignment and its due tomorrow. Initially, I was confident she would interview her Daddy because she finds his conversations and responses to her questions humorous and entertaining. But, because he could not quickly put his hands on a baby photo and I could, I was chosen by default.
After only a few questions I became keenly aware assignment was based on Erickson’s Stages of Development. The questions she presented were hard and thought-provoking. The caused me to reflect on physical, mental, and emotional changes I have encountered with the aging process. Yep, it was Erickson’s Generativity vs. Stagnation
Care: Generativity vs. Stagnation
(Copied from the link above Erickson’s Stages of Development)
Existential Question: Can I Make My Life Count?
Generativity is the concern of guiding the next generation. Socially-valued work and disciplines are expressions of generativity.
During middle age the primary developmental task is one of contributing to society and helping to guide future generations. When a person makes a contribution during this period, perhaps by raising a family or working toward the betterment of society, a sense of generativity—a sense of productivity and accomplishment—results. In contrast, a person who is self-centered and unable or unwilling to help society move forward develops a feeling of stagnation—a dissatisfaction with the relative lack of productivity.
- Central tasks of middle adulthood
- Express love through more than sexual contacts.
- Maintain healthy life patterns.
- Develop a sense of unity with mate.
- Help growing and grown children to be responsible adults.
- Relinquish central role in lives of grown children.
- Accept children’s mates and friends.
- Create a comfortable home.
- Be proud of accomplishments of self and mate/spouse.
- Reverse roles with aging parents.
- Achieve mature, civic and social responsibility.
- Adjust to physical changes of middle age.
- Use leisure time creatively.
Brandi asked questions I was not really comfortable answering; not because the responses were private but because I did not want to have to admit I was not thriving in gernerativity but instead stagnation.
Generativity is defined as “a concern for establishing and guiding the next generation”.
Holy Cow…This stage of development is for ages 40-59 and I’m 58???
What the heck…What the heck am doing? I’m Stagnant…I’m stagnant and I have only got one year left before I move on to the next stage which is “Ego Integrity vs. Despair”.
OH MY GOSH panic flooded my entire being but I didn’t want Brandi to see that my brain was literally freaking out. I initially told her “well, I can’t think of anything” then, the gears started turning and my brain engaged and a sweet voice spoke to me… “Hello, Lee Ann…Duh, what are you doing every time you train a nurse, medication aid, or CNA? What are you doing when you share your stories with your grandchildren or share a recipe, or offer an opinion when asked, or send that text, or hug them and tell them how much you love them. Baby Girl, you are giving back!”.
Ok…Ok…Ok…but is it enough I thought to myself. Am I doing all I can do to impact future generations? Am I doing enough to further the Kingdom of Heaven. The answer was “Noooooo!!!”. So, I’ve been thinking of things that would move me from Stagnation to Generativity and here’s my “to do” list.
To Do List:
- Be Present: When I am with someone, I will be with them in that moment and not be distracted by the past of future. I will make this moment count
- Be Intentional: When I am with someone I will actively engage and interact with that person. I will unplug and make them the center of my attention without distractions
- Be Real: When I am with someone, I will be authentic and not try to be someone I think they need but be the me God created me to be. That is when I am my best version of ME and to give them all of me…I need to be the real me.
- Be Patient: When I am with someone, I will be patient and allow them to be them. Everyone has weaknesses and struggles. I will allow them to move at the speed they need to move and be patient if it is not my speed.
- Be Generous: When I am with someone, I pray I never withhold anything. I want to give them 100% of whatever God has blessed me with to give.
- Be Loving: When I am with someone and even when I’m not, I pray most of all they feel loved…Not just a warm fuzzy feeling but a deep to the core kinda love.
- Write About It: When God lays something on my heart, I want to be obedient and write about it. Not to draw attention to me but to generate a spark in someone else. Reminds me of that song “It Only Takes a Spark to Get a Fire Going”. Sooo True!
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I will mess up…Heck, I do it daily!!! But I ask God to give me the ability to recognize His opportunities to live a life so others may see Jesus.
So, it seems to me, Brandi’s school assignment generated my Life Assignment…
What’s your Life Assignment?