The invention of the teenager was a mistake. Once you identify a period of life in which people get to stay out late but don’t have to pay taxes — naturally, no one wants to live any other way.–Judith Martin
Kids these days are so quick to grow up. I watch and listen to the choices they are making and the information they have stored in their brains and think, “Oh my gosh! Slow down!” And the things that they look to as “grown up” activities…well, let’s just say that many of those things haven’t been experienced by some adults. So what is the true rite of passage? How do you know when you have become an adult?
Great question. I’m not sure there is a generic answer that we can slap on every person. But, I’ve made a list of the defining moments in my life. The palpable moments when I thought, “Oh my gosh! I’m an adult!”
1. Writing that first paragraph.
I mean, honestly. I just typed the words “kids these days”. If thoughts like that are so strong they are making it through my “cool” filter, I’m definitely not a youth any longer. My days of thinking, “Old people just don’t get me” are over. When I did have those thoughts, “old people” were 35 or beyond. I’m now incredibly near to being “old people”
2. Driving a van full of middle school kids on a mission trip.
I was 23 years old, interning at a church in Austin, TX and they gave me the keys to a 12-passenger van. We loaded in and the kids frequently loaded up on Monster energy drinks and I was never more terrified to be behind the wheel. I was a 23 year old who was responsible for safely transporting the precious (combustable) cargo of other people’s pre-teens! By the grace of God, we made it safely to and from Arlington. Although, at one point, I informed them that I was cutting them off…no more energy drinks. At the next stop, they were allowed water. WAH-TER.
3. Apologizing to my parents for being an entitled brat.
I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I made this decision. It was in my later twenties. I just realized that I’d spent so much energy carrying around the boulders of how “unfair” life is. My brother and I have had plenty of “who’s the favorite kid” conversations. Naturally, we disagree on this topic. I am completely the older brother in the prodigal son story. “I did things right! Treat me better! Give me more! This is so unfair!” And one day, the Lord just pressed on that hard place in my heart until it cracked. I went to my parents house and apologized. It was strange bringing that to the light. But I knew it was right. It was taking responsibility. It was what a mature person would do. (Parents, hang in there. You may see a day like this down the road, too.)
4. I didn’t cry when I met with my boss.
Y’all, I had this….um…issue(?) well into my twenties where anytime an authority figured wanted to discuss something with me, I automatically felt like a twelve year old. Really. I dreaded any conversation with a person of authority because I did not know how to handle feeling unheard or corrected. I went in expecting a lecture every time. Once I began to realize this unhealthy relationship I had to authority figures, I started
asking begging The Lord for help. One day I knew I was going to have a meeting with my boss for my annual review. This boss in particular never seemed to hear me. (He made an declaration one day as though he had made a great discovery…I’d been telling him that exact thing for an entire year.) As I prepped myself for our meeting that day, I just kept telling the Lord that I wanted to be able to communicate clearly and maturely in our meeting. After we wrapped up, I walked back to my office with a title bounce in my step as I celebrated not having shed a tear. Progress, y’all.
5. I quit my job in obedience.
We all have those jobs that are training jobs. The jobs that we never would choose but God uses to shape us. I had that job for much longer than I’d have liked, and while I learned much about being responsible there, there came a day when I just did not think I could last another moment. I actually left work one day and wept with the Lord the entire way home telling Him that I didn’t like myself when I was at work and that I couldn’t do that job any longer. His response, whispered to my aching soul was , “Then quit.” Quit?! He hadn’t given me another job! It’s irresponsible to walk away from benefits and a paycheck with nothing lined up. I couldn’t quit. But over and over the Lord would ask, “Do you trust me? Then quit.” So I did. I was nervous but felt so much peace once I moved in obedience. And of course, He provided. But in trusting Him enough to know He would take care of me even if I didn’t have income for awhile, was evidence that my faith had matured. I was an adult.
6. I found a job doing what I was made to do.
Living in your calling, is a completely different feeling of being grown up. In some things, you feel like an adult because you are doing things out of necessity and obedience even though you would just really rather not. But, when you get to live in the job that God has wired you to do, you feel like an adult because the pieces of your heart don’t feel severed. They seem to come together in a way that is brand new. You feel a little more whole than before. And that is where I am now. Oh, don’t get me wrong, living in the career I’ve dreamed of since my teens is not easy. In fact, youth ministry is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. However, I feel most like myself here. And in feeling authentically me is a very grown up thing.