On Being an Adult

By Gwen Sellers

Recently I've been alternating between bemoaning the realities of adulthood and embracing adulthood with joy. Yes, with age comes certain responsibilities that may not be especially appealing, but what also comes is the value of experience. Many things in life are still new to me, but I also find myself less fearful and less rushed. Perhaps I have racked up enough years on this earth to come to a new appreciation for the process of change.

Black-and-white thinking has been my MO for years. In the Myers-Briggs personality test, I come out as a "J" in terms of dealing with the outside world. "J" stands for "judging" and means that I prefer decisions be made rather than staying open to new information. I'm also afflicted with loyalty. If I commit to something, I feel I'm committed for life. I'm pretty well set up, then, to expect that the way things are now is the way they will always be.

While there is some truth to homeostasis and general patterns, there is also very real change. God makes us a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) and continually sanctifies us. Second Corinthians 3:18 says, "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." Philippians 1:6 talks about God having begun a good work in us and being faithful to complete it. Revelation 21:5 records God saying "Behold, I am making all things new." God is creative. My mind cannot contain the breadth of who He is or what He will do. There are some things that He has done once and which are completely finished (Jesus' work on the cross, for instance. Praise God our sins are completely wiped away — once and for all! (check out the book of Hebrews for more details)). God Himself is unchanging (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17). But life is, by definition, dynamic and changing. I am not stuck forever being the person I am today. And that is a gift.

Not only does this apply to my personal process, giving me more willingness to live an unrushed life and making me more accepting of myself; it applies to others. As I become increasingly aware of the ways God grows and changes me, I also become aware of His process in the lives of others. That makes me less likely to pigeon-hole them and more willing to maintain relationship in the midst of growth. Just because a person seems one way now, doesn't mean he will always be that way. I don't need to make a decision on whether to engage in relationship with a person after the first impression. I can allow for the unknown and sit with people through their own processes. Because many of my friends are young adults, they are perhaps in a more concentrated time of change than are some others. They don't necessarily have formed opinions about everything, but they are intentionally working through some issues. They may not have a clear sense of their life purpose, but they're trying out different things. Rather than label them based on their current thoughts or actions, I recognize myself being more cognizant of those longer-lasting things. I am more interested in their character than I am in their opinions. More attuned to their hearts than to their careers. Eager to engage in the journey where it is now without so much regard for where the relationship will end up.

I also find myself trusting God more. One friend of mine in particular has been an example of trust in God. She's talked about several times in her life in which God has asked her to submit to someone else or to accept a certain circumstance. I would have been fearful and clung to my own sense of control, wanting to self-protect. But she didn't do that. Why? She recognized that she was ultimately submitting to God. She knows Him to be good and chose to trust Him. I realize that when my trust is in God, it's okay for other people not to be easy to define. I don't have to make a quick decision about them. I also don't have to be loyal for life. Because God is unchanging, it's okay to stay open to new information. Because God will never leave me, it's okay if He calls me to leave someone else or calls someone else to leave me. Rather than rely on the world or try to force it into being something stable to make me feel safe, I am learning to rely on God, the only One who actually is stable. Instead of expecting a game plan for life, I'm learning to ask for discernment for each day. God has everything taken care of; I just need to stay in tune with Him.

And all of this has come with aging. I have enough experience built up now that I see the proof in the pudding. Change happens, and it's not all bad. Some of it has hurt like crazy. Some of it has been stunning and has delighted my heart more than I would have ever expected or even known to ask for. All of it has been in God's hand. So though at times I may not like the reality of aging, I see that the accumulation of experience with God is well worth it. The years that pass mark time He has been at work in me. They represent relationship with Him. My age is a mark of life. Life not always lived well, but always used for a good purpose (Romans 8:28). A life filled with beauty — beauty in joy, in pain, in change, in the mere fact that God has been in all of it. And beauty in the knowledge that life continues to unfold. Time marches on, but not toward a death knell and not in monotonous stagnation. It marches toward a final coming Home. Each passing day punctuated with something worth praising God about, worth slowing down enough to actually recognize and enjoy, and worth acknowledging contributes to that final completion in Christ.

Adulthood isn't so bad after all.

Image Credit: Dr. Wendy Longo; "Wisdom"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  |  Christian-Life  |  Personal-Life

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Published on 10-15-14