For years after college I just assumed that the police, my parents, or my pastor would rush into my apartment and drag me back to their home or an institution shouting, “You’re not an independent adult, you fraud. You’re still just a kid in a grown up body!”
While working at a bookstore during my seminary days a woman said to her child, “Why don’t you ask that man to help you find the book you wanted.” I looked around. And then I realized she was talking about me.
Now I’m closing in on 30 in a few years and I’m finally comfortable with being an adult, a young adult in his 20’s, but an adult nonetheless.
Here’s the thing: I think I mentally entered the real world of “adulthood” about 2 or 3 years ago. I felt like something clicked, I had a new perspective of the world, and that fear of the posse raiding my house to drag me away vanished. I can almost remember the exact moment when it happened.
I’m not an expert on adulthood, nor the national spokesman for adults, but I think that my own little right of passage came at the moment when I realized that you, me, and everyone in the world has wonderful qualities and horrible flaws that simultaneously exist, and yet we get on with life. We accept each other, offend people, fight things out, forgive, and then move on. We look past the flaws to the good in people, hoping for the best.
If I can put a Christian spin on it, we understand our sin and brokenness, but move ourselves and others toward the redemption and new life in Christ.
In childhood we have a relatively sanitized view of the world. We see adults as perfect, authoritative, and in control. We think our parents can do everything.
At some point this is smashed, typically in the Junior High/High School years, though in some cases it happens much earlier. I hit that point when I was seven or eight. Disillusionment follows and can dog us into college and sometimes beyond. We gossip and feed on the smut and brokenness all around us. There is a shock at all of the drugs, alcoholism, infidelity, and overall unfair nature of the world.
And then we hit that adult moment when we see things for what they are, but realize that we can still find a little room for that youthful optimism. We see the eccentricities of others, but we also–man, I hope we also–realize that we have our own problems as well.
Christians will realize that all have sinned, but all can be restored through grace by faith in God. I’m not saying that Christians are the only ones who can become adults, trust me, we can be quite childish. Nevertheless, Christians have great tools at their disposal for living in this world: an understanding about the flaws inherent in our world and the solution for moving forward peacefully and graciously. The key is to use them.