The Up Side of Growing Up – Three Signs of Maturity
I’m 26. Sometimes that makes me feel old. I can remember specific instances in my childhood that I would contemplate what life would be like when I was finally grown up. Would fart jokes still be funny? Yes, they are. Would I still play video games? Also yes. I knew that by this point in my life I would have everything figured out. Sadly, younger self, this is not how it is. Perhaps I was asking the wrong questions. Looking over my life and seeing what has changed – the areas where I’ve labored for growth and found it along with the areas where I could not progress yet God’s grace still collided with my fallen nature – it seems that as a child I did not know what it was that made me childlike.
Few young people actually realize the extent of their selfishness. To do so would be inherently unselfish. As I have grown from a child into a man, I have become much more aware of how my choices and actions impact far more than just myself and my life. I remember getting so upset with my mother when she would vacuum while I was watching TV. The audacity of that woman! It’s obvious now that my response was horribly selfish and inappropriate. For all that she did for me I should have jumped off the couch and took over that menial chore for her. At the very least I should have thanked her, but I was totally unaware. I was, in a word, selfish. I didn’t mean to be. I did not want to be. I just was. It was in my nature. It still is, but as a mature and fairly healthy adult it is possible to step out of my self-absorbed nature and begin focusing on the world around me. This idea of being “other-focused” is a tell-tale sign of adulthood. It is also a mark of a mature follower of Jesus.
Irrational Emotional Responses
Another sign of emotional immaturity (being a child) is inability to respond to situations appropriately. Have you ever noticed that everything “sucks” or is “freaking awesome” when you’re talking to a Jr. High school student? I definitely remember being that person. When we are young and immature we have not yet developed the amazing ability to see gray. We are constantly sprinting from one extreme to the other. My mentor in college commented that no one falls in or out of love faster than a Jr. Higher. As we grow older and more mature, less things we encounter in life should elicit that “fight or flight” response. Not everything sucks. Some things are just okay. Not everything is the most incredible thing every. Some things are just pretty cool. Now instead of seeing a bad date as an indication of our inability to attract the opposite sex we instead see it for what it is: a bad date. Life is full of ups and downs. As we progress through childish extremes to Godly maturity suddenly we don’t view a thunderstorm as a symbol of God’s wrath, or a bad day as proof that God’s presence has fled from our lives.
Rapid Pace of Life
Recently I was hanging out with my younger brother, Joel, and it struck me that everything he did needed to happen fast, to happen now. He doesn’t walk, he runs. He doesn’t speak, he just opens his mouth. Does this sound like anyone you know? I used to lose so much sleep every year on Christmas Eve. I was so excited! I just wanted it to be Christmas so we could open presents. I would ask my mother incessantly, ”Why can’t we just open them NOW??” This is definitely a childhood trait that we must outgrow. With age and maturity comes the ability to slow things down. The gifts will still be there tomorrow. I will get to the same destination whether I walk or run. We slow things down so that we can do a better job. How many times has a child tried to rush through building a model or putting a new toy together just to break something in their haste? Maturity enables us to calm our emotions and get things done effectively and efficiently.