Out of Exile: Day 23 – Two Halves of Life

Richard Rohr has been a wise companion for me. I’m using a few days of this journey to introduce you to his writings.

Rohr often speaks of the two halves of life. The first half is spent creating a box: rules to live by, unchangeable truths to help you feel in control, and markers that show success. He says these are all a natural part of development, a phase we all grow through: like training wheels on a bicycle.

But the second half of life is meant to let go of these constructs. By letting go of the box you are free to experience life in its fullness. You are no longer threatened by what’s outside of the box. Your thinking becomes less black and white. Less in or out. Less inclined to feel the need to put a value judgment on everything but rather to just experience life as it is.

But to transition to this second half of life requires an exile. A time of stripping. It often feels unsuccessful and contrary to everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve in the first half of life. Here is another post where he refers to the second half of life.

The soul has many secrets. They are only revealed to those who want them, and are never completely forced upon us. One of the best-kept secrets, and yet one hidden in plain sight, is that the way up is the way down. Or, if you prefer, the way down is the way up.

Your thinking becomes less black and white. Less in or out. Less inclined to feel the need to put a value judgment on everything but rather to just experience life as it is. 

In Scripture, we see that the wrestling and wounding of Jacob are necessary for Jacob to become Israel (Genesis 32:26-32), and the death and resurrection of Jesus are necessary to create Christianity. The loss and renewal pattern is so constant and ubiquitous that it should hardly be called a secret at all.

Yet it is still a secret, probably because we do not want to see it. We do not want to embark on a further journey (the second half of life) if it feels like going down, especially after having put so much sound and fury into going up (the first half of life). This is surely the first and primary reason why many people never get to the fullness of their own lives.

Adapted from Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life,

Exile can produce so much fear. But the fear comes  from what you think life MUST BE. If you can step back and reframe what must be, the fear can possibly subside. If living in fear is not of God and you are fearful, then maybe you have the wrong perspective. Maybe, with the right perspective, you can see exile as an opportunity to enter into a new fullness.

How could (or has) exile enable/d you to experience life more fully? Please take a minute to leave a comment below and share this post on Facebook. Thanks.

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3 thoughts on “Out of Exile: Day 23 – Two Halves of Life

  1. Lisa

    Reframing and learning about the benefits of becoming a minimalist. Traveling further than I ever imagined, met more people from all different walks of life and maturing in my ability to comfort people (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

  2. Anonymous

    As someone in their second half of life chronologically, this perspective rings very very true. I think the answer to your question is in your post where you talk about being “less inclined to feel the need to put a value judgment on everything…” (or everyone). I am learning that there is more to the story, and more “story” to people we encounter, than we would ever expect. And, that we rarely get to see or know the “more”.

    1. F. Remy Diederich Post author

      Rohr’s idea of second half living is a great construct for what I’ve been feeling over the past few years. He gave me permission to continue in that direction, which I needed because at first it felt wrong…the opposite of my youthful zeal to be right about everything. I don’t think my core beliefs are any different but I’m a lot more open to accepting people as they are and hearing their story for what it is.

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