I just had a birthday yesterday. Made me think of posting this blog I wrote a little while back.
I remember being in elementary school and seeing pictures of senior classmen and thinking to myself, “those guys look like grown-ups!” I mean they were bigger, looked mature, and had facial hair (well stubble since they weren’t allowed to have facial hair at my high school). I remember wondering what it must feel like to be an adult. Adulthood looked like a completely different realm, in which children are born, money is earned, bills are paid, cars are driven, people look older, act more mature, and have it together.
Interestingly, as I got older and moved into the upper grades, I remember looking at myself and my classmates and thinking “Man, we don’t look as old as the seniors looked back when I was little. What’s up with that?” I didn’t really feel as old as they looked.
Soon I progressed through college (I was a young non-traditional student) and have been working part-time as a substitute teacher and a singer in a band. This brings me to an interesting place in life. You see, I’m no longer an elementary student, a teenager, or even a college student, yet I’m single, with few obligations, and still look at other people as “the adults” around me. My age, facial hair, relatively mature actions, and job allow me to be categorized as an adult, but why don’t I feel like one? And, on that note, what does it even feel like to be an adult? Maybe other people experience this, too. Come to think of it, I remember my dad telling me one time that he didn’t even feel “old” or like he was old enough to have children and be doing all the adult things he did.
Maybe I just have a romantic notion of what it means to feel like an adult—an elusive and enigmatic feeling at that. You know, that sense you have as a teenager that things are different as adults; that the problems you face in school will fade and life will be better as an adult; that the petty interpersonal problems and insecurities of youth will be transformed or erased by the passing of time and the new raiment of adulthood. Like I said—romantic notions.
Recently I’ve had my attention piqued when in the presence of groups that I feel would be in the adult category. As I observed these various interactions, something dawned on me. I watched and listened to conversations in which the language and topics would rival a high school guys’ locker room. I saw people leave a group early because they couldn’t stand someone else in the group. I saw one man talking about himself in such a way that belied deep insecurity. And, I heard complaining that sounded just like kids. At least, these were my perceptions—possibly judgmental and biased—but sincere.
I just began to think, “wow, adults are just like teenagers, only they look older, have more money and power, and think their complaints are more legitimate.” The insecurity is still there. The grumbling and petty interpersonal problems are, too. Furthermore , what mere mortal in any time or place has had it all together?
And, I guess the only difference between them and me, is that I don’t feel like the adult I feel they are.
Maybe I think about adulthood the same way others think about Christianity. We see either super-Christians who have it all together, or we see believers who don’t match up to our romantic notion of what we think it means to be a Christian. Is it possible that we’re just waiting for that feeling of being a “good Christian” or “close to God” when we’ll have it all together? I suppose maybe I should stop waiting for the elusive “click” of turning into an adult, and concentrate more on the fact that I am one—along with all the benefits and responsibilities that come with that state of being. Maybe we should stop waiting for that elusive “click” of having it all together as a believer and concentrate on the fact that we are, from the moment we turn to Jesus, already covered by Grace—along with all the benefits and responsibilities that come with that state of being—regardless of how we feel.