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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Adolescence of the Soul

I'd like to point out something that just dawned on me.  Okay, maybe it was a little late in coming - or maybe I'm just slow to 'get' things.  But I just realized that though people grow up, their age increases with each year, sometimes the adolescent stage lasts far beyond the years we allocate to this supposed maturing process.  I see it in myself, and sometimes in others, though I'd like to think I don't bother to scrutinize or oversee anyone else's growth (unless, of course, you count my children - whom it is my duty to oversee!)

It is easy to watch kids growing up and think they will arrive at somewhere between 19 and 25 with a fully matured person in place.  And an easy mistake to make - to think it is a magical process that happens with the passing of time.  Because I am noticing more and more that there is so much growing up to be done still - on the inside.  I thought that once I got certain concepts; changed in certain ways, that I would then operate from a position of maturity, wholeness, completeness and be such a source of grace and wisdom to others!  Ha!  I'll let you know when I figure out which certain concepts facilitate such grandiose schemes!  Because I keep finding more and more growing to do.

It is as if my soul has risen and peeked above the fray of life and said, "I'm still an adolescent!  You can't rest on your laurels!"

I wonder if there is such a thing as a mature soul; one who has grown past the adolescent phase.  I suppose there is.  If I can imagine it, it would look like one at peace with himself and the world, whose trust is unyielding in his Creator, God, and whose strength and endurance serve as a source of comfort and hope to those around him.  I think I have mature moments like that in my own life.  The process of growing out of soul-adolescence, must be, I imagine, one where those moments of inner calm increase and start to blend together to create a life of richly overflowing joy.  I use language of imagination, because I don't see it in myself a whole lot and haven't probably taken the time to see it in others, though I'm sure it's there.

Adolescence is by nature a tumultuous time of turbulence and growth.  I see it in my growing children - they act like mini-adults some days and like 2 year olds the next.  And I see this same adolescence in my soul - the back and forth of doubt and trust; the tendency to anxiety and fear one day and the next a supremely hopeful confidence in God.  God must tenderly smile at me and wonder at my impetuous temper-tantrums followed by earnest prayers of how I will trust Him for all I need.

Yes, God wonders.  If we know Him through Christ, we see that at times He wondered at people's lack of faith, or at their incredible faith.  This knowing God responds to soul-adolescence with tender, compassionate love.  Don't believe me?  I read it just the other day: A man comes to Jesus and tells Him about how he has done so much law-keeping and everything he's 'supposed' to do.  This is an example of soul-adolescence.  A self-assured, confident, spiritually proud, yet simply ignorant soul.  What would my response be to such smug-self-righteousness?  I'd probably throw my hands up in annoyance and tell him to get down off his high horse.

But not Jesus.  He treats the adolescent-soul with grace and truth.  It says, "He looked at him and loved him."  Such simple words.  Striking.  Not exactly profound.  But exactly what was needed.  This man did need a dose of truth, "Sell all and give to the poor and come follow me." (In that order).  But Jesus began with love.

That's what my adolescent soul needs.  A heavy dose of compassion from on high that says, "I welcome you even when you're blind.  Even when you think you're mature, but you aren't.  I will love you and meet you right where you are."  That is the starting place for me: a place to begin to grow, to lay down the angst, and to move towards deeper joy, daring hope and divine love.


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