Its my senior year at college. For those of you who have been here before, you know it is truly a bittersweet time. On the one hand, I am thrilled and excited to be graduating (FINALLY! I mean, seventeen years of school?! I'm ready to be done. At least for a little while...). On the other hand, it is frightening to finally be totally out on your own. The real world is scary. I am just so rudely thrust out there and forced to be a real adult making real money and doing adult-like things. Sheesh!
But I still plan on holding onto my childish nature. I mean, come on, for those of you who know me, you know I am very childish at times. I am a child at heart, that is for sure. Some of you I may annoy to death at how childish and immature I am. Some of you may appreciate my goofiness because I break the tension or remind you to lighten up. There is one thing I do know: Jesus told us, "I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven." (Matthew 18:3-4 NLT)
At the same time, I am realizing there is a huge difference from "becoming like a child" and "doing childish things." Paul tells us, "When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things." (1 Corinthians 13:11 NLT). I am really realizing more and more what this verse means as I get older and am heading out on my own.
When I was in high school, I thought I was big and bad. I was a "young adult" and in many ways I expected to be treated like one (I know, very arrogant of me). I loved it when people called me "young man" or "sir" or "young adult." It made me feel important and older.
Now that I am in college and have been greatly humbled in many ways (I'm still not done being taught humility yet; God is still teaching me), I see things differently. I have been praying for humility for a long time, and God has been answering faithfully those prayers (however, I also believe we are never done learning humility; I look forward to all of the lessons God will be teaching me in the future). It is amazing how the opposite has occurred now: I prefer to be called "kid" or some other word diminishing my age. I'm not old by any stretch of the imagination (although I frequently make annoying comments like, "Man, I'm getting old."), but I still prefer to be called "kid."
I believe that is what I am--a kid, compared to the majority of the world. I still have so much to learn. People are so much wiser than I am. I don't know it all. I still make huge mistakes. I still screw up. I'm okay with making mistakes. I know I am still growing. In the mean time, I like being called "kid".
But being called "kid" doesn't mean I should still act like one. This is what it all boils down to: like I said before, there is a difference between "becoming like a child" and "doing childish things." It is a difference of thought, heart, and behavior. Our hearts should always be like children's: nonjudgmental, pure, innocent, loving, curious, compassionate, caring, etc.
Conversely, our behavior (for the most part) should be like adults. We should no longer waste hours of time playing with toys on the floor. We should no longer whine and complain when we don't get our way. We should not dress up and play pretend out in the yard by ourselves (because our neighbors will probably think we have finally lost it).
That is not to say we shouldn't have fun. There comes a time when we need to relax and we can revert back to our childhood and have fun. Especially if/when we have kids of our own. We should never lose that child-like wonder and fascination with the world. But we cannot keep those childish things at the expense of our life and jobs. I believe this is what Paul was referring to when he said, "I put away the childish things." There comes a point in our lives when we must grow up.
The battleground is our mind. Our mind is what can possess both the childish and the adult. We can enjoy our childlike wonder and still possess the mind of an adult. This is what Jesus was saying when He said, "become like little children." I am still learning this as I am getting older and venturing our into the real world.
I think I can best summarize my thoughts with an example of a girl named Laura:
Laura was homeschooled and raised by two loving Christian parents who always did what they thought was best for their daughter. While her life was far from perfect and their family never had much money, she always had everything she needed.
During her childhood, she would sit in front of the TV and watch hours of cartoons, inserting herself into the plots and stories of the shows she would watch. She also read religiously, inserting herself into the books she read and visualizing herself within those stories.
Laura was so creative, and thus created stories of her own. She would depict these stories to her friends in vivid detail and describe the stories for hours. Laura became great at verbalizing the intricate plot and images she saw in her head. It was no surprised when Laura confessed in high school that she wanted to be an author.
College came about, and Laura was blessed enough to receive a full ride. While at college, her creativity exploded, but sadly, her work ethic did not. She would sit or stand for hours, staring off into space, creating dozens of stories in her mind. Laura would
then call her friends and describe to them those stories. She would also go online and find new songs, movies, and television shows to watch to inspire her further. Venturing out from animation, she fell in love with science fiction television shows as well as superhero shows. Laura even involved herself in a role-playing game club to expand her characters and grab new ideas.
All this time, she would only occasionally write down her thoughts onto paper. With all her brilliant ideas, she never finished one book. Every time she would work on one book, she would get bored with it and jump onto another idea. Eventually, she decided that she would start small, and finish a short story first before she tackled any larger projects.
Summer rolled around after her junior year and she told herself the goal for that summer was to write a short story she had developed the past school year. Her mother offered to help her get a job, but she never took the time or effort to get a job that summer. Summer moved by very quickly, and when the time came for school to start, Laura had not written a single page. What had she done all summer? She watched movies, television shows, and listened to music. Laura would go on walks and just admire nature, creating even more ideas in her head. She thought about everything, analyzing it until it could not be analyzed any more. But she never did any work. All of it stayed locked up in her head.
Now Laura is a senior in college and in a few short months she will be released into the real world with no work experience, no job, and nothing but her creativity to fuel her. Sadly, Laura is still living in a dream world--the world of a child, full of imagination and creativity. While these are noble qualities, they have interfered with her ability to function sufficiently in the real world. When Laura hits graduation in May, she is going to be in a world of shock.
I can relate to Laura in so many ways (in fact, part of that narration I pulled directly from my personality). Laura needs to learn to hold onto her child-like creativity, wonder, and imagination while still learning to put away the childish things in order to become an adult and function in the real world.
The real world is scary, but also so wonderful. I have always seen it as the adventure: the Great Unknown, the Wild West, or "Space: the Final Frontier." I try to look optimistically at the future and look forward to what God has in store. Pray for me as I step forward and God directs me what to do next.
So what about you? Have you ever felt this way? Do you have a story about entering the real world?
Following His Call,
1 Corinthians 13:11