Friday, October 22, 2010


Growing up sucks. No, it's not so bad. Growing up is awesome. Hmmm ... where did all my hair go, and where did these wrinkles come from, and why can't I function on four hours of sleep anymore?? 

Growing up is weird.

I have to preface this by admitting that I am self-conscious about writing this entry. I was planning on writing this very entry on Wednesday, but put it off because I got busy with work and preparing for youth, then listened as Pastor Ben Calmer (our senior high pastor) shared this very same message on Wednesday night. He even went as far as to preach some of the points I mulled over, but I suppose it's a cool thing our heads were in the same place this week. 

Earlier this week I kept hearing the Jars of Clay song where it sings "with faith like a child." Then I ran into a clip of Matthew Lillard in Hackers reciting 1 Corinthians 13:11 - "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man I put childish ways behind me." I started chewing on that and contemplating child-like (not to be confused with childish) ways of living and thinking. 

Life as it stands now is wonderful. I don't want to confuse anyone by projecting the image of someone who thinks everything in the past was greater and present day is dreary and drab. I am finding life to be richer and more enjoyable than ever before, and I am seeing a lot of fruit in life, but kids really have it easier in some ways.

When you're a kid you're amazed by everything. You don't have that jaded attitude of "yeah yeah ,seen that... NEXT" that we can get when we are older. The world and even some of the dullest objects in it are all tools, weapons, castles, swords, fortresses, mountains, dragons, all things transformed by the imagination into something striking and magnificent. Everything is full of color, full of life, full of opportunity for fun and celebration. Even now modern art seems to lean towards a simplistic, minimalist, childish array of colors and shapes. The primary colors and three basic shapes (square, circle, triangle) comprise a lot of what I see in advertising, print media, and other visual stimuli; they invoke nostalgia: an engaging and powerful tool.

Children also have the luxury of insurmountable trust. As a parent, you have to teach your kids that not every adult is to be trusted, followed, or allowed into your home. You have to teach your kid not to accept candy from a stranger, and other similar, cliched (albeit valuable) lessons. And while children might not understand the intricacies of social graces and spaces, they still have an inherent sense of total justice that causes them to be downright indignant about people doing the right or wrong thing. There is no gray area, just black-and-white, and kids will sell you out and tell on you faster than Michael Johnson sprinted across the finish line in the 1996 Summer Olympics. Also, kids will interact with their community as a whole without much bias. They can seem to go to any playground and have fun playing with any kid regardless of background, ethnicity, or social status.

Additionally, what (to me) seems to be most rewarding to parents of young children is the amount of agape love they pour on you. You are their hero, and they think you can do no wrong. They will attach themselves and cling to you like no other force on Earth because you are their safe place.

Over time, these things diminish. The cracks and imperfections of our world begin to show, just like all things that get older. Rose-colored glasses lose their tint and start to become clearer. It can be hard to stay optimistic, to operate out of a place of constant wonder and amazement. Survival becomes more and more of a drive to what we do than things of old such as discovery, adventure, or curiosity. It can become harder and harder to trust: in people, in institutions, in faith.

Mark 10:15 finds Jesus making an aside to his disciples and explaining that if you can't have faith like a child, then you cannot enter the Kingdom. I've come to understand this more and more and have been able to see my trust and faith increase through testing and patience on my part. A toddler doesn't take his first walk, he takes his first step, and then another, and then another until he is confident enough that he can keep taking step after step. The trust sets in, and then he or she can start to focus on more important matters in life. 

Someone recently asked me how you trust God with the big things in life. My answer to them was something along the lines of this: like a child learning to walk and trust his own two legs, you have to take one small step at a time. Instead of asking for the whole taco all at once, build trust by receiving each ingredient at a time and then having the fortitude to make one fine, meaty taco. It's like putting on your seat belt each day. After 30 days (so they say), a habit formulates, and you don't have to focus on it anymore: it's just a part of your every day life. Likewise, I don't think God doesn't want us to spend all our time trying to figure out how to trust Him. He wants us to trust Him so we can move on to a more mature spiritual life, one that sees us spending less time looking inwards and at ourselves, and more on others and the community we are involved in.

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