I was a little surprised when my son suddenly announced one day after church, “I am thinking of being a Minister when I grow up.” “Why is that?” I asked. “Well, I figure I have to go to church on Sundays anyway, and I think it’ll be more fun to stand and yell then to just sit and listen.”
Remember when you were a kid and knowing what you wanted to be when you grew up? Maybe you wanted to be a painter or a doctor or an astronaut-ballerina? Sky was the limit. Dreams were real.
But then we grow up. We become teenagers, and suffer the perils of breakups, broken hearts and hormones. We take exams, work hard for them and don’t get the results hoped for. We don’t get into our first-choice university. We don’t get into university, period. We apply for jobs, we don’t get hired. We get a job, but it’s not THE job. We go through another break up.
We become cautious. We learn that not everyone is as nice as they seem, and that some people will do anything to get ahead. And with this loss of trust, we lose faith. We may stop believing that the universe will take care of us, and that everything is going to be ok.
In the face of this, guess what, we start to have to take care of things ourselves. We’re forced to grow up and become an adult, right or wrong, good, fair, poor, or bad. Our life, while not handed to us on a silver platter, is still handed to us. Most of us take it and go. Others, well….
Scripture says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.” That’s the goal, at least.
Perhaps you’ve seen some of the “adulting is hard” comments on social media: Coffee, because adulting is hard. Adulting is hard. I don’t get a reward when my bedroom is clean.
Today, being an adult has become a verb: adulting. The Urban Dictionary defines adulting this way: “To do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as a 9-5 job, a mortgage, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown-ups.”
Adulting is the concept of completing the responsibilities an adult is expected to handle, from keeping one’s home clean to holding down a job and paying bills. Millennials, for the most part, views adulthood as a series of actions, as opposed to a state of being. Adulting therefore becomes a verb.
“Emerging adulthood” is a new life stage between adolescence and actual adulthood. The 20s have become a period of exploration and instability where they are trying out all kinds of things before settling down.
For those in their 20s, about 40 percent move back home with their parents at least once, and they go through an average of seven jobs.
There’s a difference between someone who’s adulting and someone who’s an adult. Let me give you an example.
I drink a lot of water every day, so I keep a pitcher in the refrigerator here with a Brita filter in it. It does a good job of cleaning water and keeping it cold. I pour four to five glasses a day, and even use it for my coffee. The question I face each time I pour a glass is whether I should fill it right away so that the new water has a chance to get cold, and have more in the pitcher, or wait until after the next time I use it but then have more room temperature water needing to be cooled down. If I wait until next time I wouldn’t have to go through the minimal process of filling up the pitcher. The filter slows down the speed of the water going into it by quite a bit.
It’s a question I always answer with: Do it now—get it over and get more cold water. I’m an adult as you can see from my continual choice to refill the pitcher each time.
Seriously, look at it this way: Kids don’t pour liquids from a pitcher, unless you want a major spill on your hands. They’re not strong enough nor would a child fill it up afterward. A parent does both.
Now a teenager will pour from a pitcher, thinking they’re all grown up because their younger sister or brother can’t do what they can do. But if you think they’re going to take the time to refill it, then you’ve got another think coming.
An emerging adult will pour from it and will know she or he has to refill it. But instead of getting it done, he’ll tell himself he’ll do it next time, knowing she really should do it every time because that’s how you keep the most and the coldest water in it. When the water is all gone, he fills it.
Scripture says, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.”
Perhaps it’s never been easy to go from a child to an adult. There seems to be such a high cost to losing one’s childhood and gaining the labor of being an adult. The truth however is the arrow only points in one direction. It’s a one-way street, and if you’re not driving in the correct direction, you’re going to get into accidents eventually.
As scripture says, “For all must carry their own load.”
This isn’t the easiest concept for many. We have a love-hate relationship with responsibility. We want it but then again if someone else could take care of some things, that’s not too bad either. When someone else takes responsibility, we can get what we want but don’t have to put the work in. And someone else take the fall if things don’t go so well.
Not unlike Adam, who was not yet an adult when he said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Clearly, Adam was taking no responsibility for anything that had just occurred. In one sentence he threw shade at God and Eve, throwing them under the bus—not that there was anyone else around to hear it—blaming God for giving him the “woman” and Eve for giving him the fruit. No responsibility, no guilt.
Like all who have a tough time facing what is theirs and taking responsibility for what they did or didn’t do, Adam doesn’t get to sidestep what comes next. God smacks down Adam’s lame excuses and lays down the law.
In so many words, the Lord God tells Adam to grow up. It’s time to become an adult: You’re out! Get your own place. Go, get a job. Earn your way. Take care of yourself and your family. Pay the rent. Your Garden privileges have been revoked. And no, there is no basement here you can live in. Out. Good bye. See you Sundays for dinner, if our schedules coordinate.
Just to show Adam and Eve there are no lingering hard feelings, just an insistent push out the door, God sends them off with their first set of clothes on their backs. Away the first “emerging adults” go, to find an apartment, get a job, and start a life of their own. I wonder how fast the Lord slammed the door to the Garden behind them.
It’s time to grow up. It’s important to take on what’s yours. Leave aside childish preoccupations. We need to mature fully into our relationships and responsibilities. The joys of taking on one’s full rights and responsibilities outweigh the costs.
You see, each of us is supposed to find out what she or he is made of. The journey is in how much growth you’re willing to take on. The more change you’re willing to make the further you’ll go. The more responsibility you can hoist on your own shoulders, without breaking, the more grace the Lord will give you. One time, Jesus’ disciples failed to heal a demon possessed boy. His dad had to appeal to Jesus for him to do it. Jesus said the reason the disciples couldn’t drive it out was because of their lack of faith. The disciples knew the words to say and the moves to make and the prayers to recite to heal some but not to heal this one. They had their limits.
But Christ wasn’t accepting it. He wasn’t happy with them. He didn’t give them a “Nice try. I’ll take it from here.” They didn’t get an A for effort. He chewed them out.
“Why?” you ask. Didn’t they have their limits? They’re only human. Perhaps Jesus didn’t mean it. Maybe he was a little tired that day or hadn’t eaten for a while.
Yeah, well, that ain’t it. This isn’t about Jesus. We’re not supposed to be examining whether Jesus made a mistake in this case. This is about you and me.
Christ gets tired of waiting for us to get up to faith. We don’t get tired of waiting for perhaps someday it to happen. We keep waiting for someone else to fix things. We keep waiting for someone else to get us what we need. We keep waiting for something different to happen. Christ is tired of waiting for us not to be tired of blaming someone else or something else for us not having faith.
You’ve got to carry your load. We need to think and reason like full-grown adults. It’s time to put childishness behind.
If you really want to know why Christ gave it to the disciples, it was because they were shown for who they weren’t. It had obvious consequences. Because they hadn’t grown up enough, a kid was still sick and in distress. Because the disciples hadn’t taken up the call to spiritual maturity, there stood in front of Jesus a distraught dad.
If we think Christ is alright with that then you don’t really comprehend the urgency of his ministry, nor the depth of the call, nor the power of the kingdom, the need among us, the love that is Jesus’ heart, nor the hope that we each have within us. He wasn’t alright with it and he made that very clear.
They’re not all his responsibility. They can’t all be his responsibility. Christ isn’t the only one with the call to reduce suffering and spread hope. We’re not here always to receive and be given and to get, as if we’re still children and aren’t the adults.
We need to stand up in God’s presence. No more lifting up both hands and shrugging. Be sincere. No more pointing the finger at someone else. Acknowledge God’s claim on you. Stop turning away. Shoulder some of the kingdom. We’re no longer children. Take responsibility for doing something for the Lord, for others, to grow yourself in spirit and truth.
As you do, the Lord will help. You can lean on the Lord. But God only gives grace to those whose journey requires it, to those who love more than they know how, to those whose are willing to trust more than before.
We’re each sent from God for a good purpose, but we’ve got to be willing to stand up, like adults, and claim it. May we be those who no longer wait for someone else but make the responsibility and the joy ours.
Can the church say Amen?