I attended a conference at which the speaker, Gordon MacDonald, talked about the questions we ask during different stages of our lives. These questions are related to our emotional development. If we are not able to answer them to our satisfaction, we will be held back in life until we can do so. Furthermore, MacDonald stated that those who have answered these questions live fuller and healthier lives, and that life events, such as abuse, trauma, chronic or fatal illnesses can hinder or greatly complicate the process. He gave the example of a 30-year-old woman asking the questions of a 70 year old because she found out that she had a terminal illness. Here is a list of some of the questions that people ask in each age category:


Who am I as a man or a woman, and how am I different from my family of origin?
What am I going to do with my life?
Can I love, and am I lovable?
What part of me needs correcting?
What idea or person will I organize my life around (faith)?


How do I prioritize all of the demands that are being made on my life?
How far can I go in fulfilling my ambitions? I may not be able to achieve all of my dreams.
Who is a part of my primary community?
What does my spiritual life look like? Do I even have one? This can be the driest of spiritual times in life.
Why am I not a better person?


What were the influences that informed me?
Why do some people seem to be doing better than I do?
Why am I so often disappointed with myself and others?
Why are limitations beginning to outnumber options?
Why do I seem to face so many uncertainties?


Why is time moving so quickly?
Why is my body becoming unreliable?
How do I deal with failures and successes because they are beginning to accumulate? How do these affect my soul? How do I manage these?
Who are these young people that want to replace me?
What am I going to do with my doubts and my fears? There is a lot more to be afraid of and doubt: spiritually, financially, etc.


When do I have to stop doing the things that have defined me? How will I know when it is time to stop?
Whom will I die with? Who are the friends that are close to us because of who we are, not because of what we do?
Why do I feel ignored by a large part of the population?
What will be my spiritual legacy? What will I pass on to other people? How will I be remembered?
What is left undone in my life?
What does old age look like?


Does anybody remember who I once was?
How much of my life can I still control?
What can I contribute in the world?
Why do I feel angry and irritable?
Is God really there?
Am I ready to face death?
Will I be missed when I am dead?
For more information read Gordon MacDonald, A Resilient Life (Nashville: Nelson Books, 2005).


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