Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Growing Up

Growing up is a strange thing. When I was a child my mom would sing a line from some song that went "Life used to be so simple, but it's not simple anymore." I remember analyzing that and thinking "When was life simple? I don't think life's ever been simple." And really, mine never was. The complexities of life started to show out about the time I was four, and things haven't been simple since. I remember hearing people talk about childlike faith and wondering what was so wonderful about childhood. I figured I must have missed out on whatever that magical childhood was that everyone talked about.I remember thinking when I was about 10 that I had filled my quota of difficulty and was entitled to have everything go my way from than on. But from the vantage point of 21 (gosh, a I that old already?) I can see that there is a quality trust inherent in childhood that is precious. As children we believe things because... well because someone we trust said so. And that's enough. It's a scary place to be when it's no longer enough that Mom or the preacher said so. I now understand why so many young people lose their way. The old standards of judging truth aren't there anymore. Unless one believes that if God says it that's enough, one could fall very far indeed. It has frightened me at times to see how far I could stray from everything I hold dear. I have looked at myself and been terrified at what I saw. I have seen that I, in and of myself am unable to fully trust in what I believe. I have clung to the hand of my father, and seen that I wasn't strong enough to hold on. I have known that he was holding me, that his grip was stronger on me then mine could ever be on him. And I have been given the strength to hold on by his grace, one day at a time.

Something I love to ponder is the beauty of each season of life. There is the complete dependence of a new baby, and the wonder of a little child just starting to explore the world, asking always "What's that?" There is something that makes me smile about a ten year old learning to hold adult conversations and talk about important things.

There is youth, a season when anything seems possible, when we are willing to risk everything in hopes of being movers and shakers. I guess beause it's my area to explore right now, I'm partial to youth. There is a zeal to it that I find fascinating. Through much of history it has been young people that have changed the world. There was a line that struck me as I was watching Amazing Grace recently. One young man said to his friend "We're too young to realize that certain thing cannot be done. And we can do them." And they did. These two young men, William Pit and William Wilberforce, where the movers and shakers of their day. They changed the world. Often, when we are young, the price that would daunt someone with more knowledge of the world seems payable to us. I wonder if perhaps that's why God set things up that most people fall in love and marry in this season. Because by 40 we see all the risk that's involved in loving someone, and perhaps we'd be less willing to venture into something so very... risky.

I think the same may be true of friendships. There is something different about the friendships that someone very young and someone older. I look and my grandmother and the friends she's had all her life and those she's made since she was middle aged. It's just not the same. And frankly, I can understand that. I've never spent the night crying over anyone I didn't love. But it's still worth it. I guess I'm still young enough not to care.

And yet again, there are the seasons of Middle and old age. Honestly, I don't really understand these seasons. I can see that my the time one has reached these seasons one has gained wisdom. The preacher Sunday said something that I think might sum up some of the blessings of having spent one's youth. He said "I'm 68 years old. One of the advantages I have that you young people don't have is that I've lived most of my life, and I can tell you that God is always faithful. See, you still have your lives ahead of you and you don't know what it's going to hold. But I know that God is always faithful." It reminded me of the words of the Psalmist. "I have been young and now I am old, but I have not seen the righteous forsaken..."

So I guess that's pretty much it. As I look over this past year, I can see that God is faithful. And I guess that thing called faith comes in when I look at the coming year and say "God will be faithful." So happy New Year, everyone.