I will never forget the moment when my dad told me that there would never be a day when, all of a sudden, I would feel like an honest-to-goodness adult. You always think that day will come when you’re a kid, he said, but it just won’t happen.
I can’t tell you how confusing and disappointing this was for me. What did he mean, I would never feel like an adult? Didn’t everyone always ask what you wanted to be when you “grew up”? Didn’t that mean that there would be some distinct point when WHAM, you were no longer a kid but a wise, all-knowing, put together adult?
Maybe this wouldn’t have been so horrifying to me if I hadn’t always been such a sucker for resolution. I like due dates and things that have definite beginnings and ends. This was why school was so great for me, and why getting an Incomplete in a class would have been my worst nightmare -- I wouldn’t be done.
I’ve always longed for that done feeling when it came to how I felt about myself. I’ve always clung to the hope that there will be some definite moment in the future when I will have it all figured out, when I will have gotten my act together, when I will have arrived. Once that point is reached, I will then be able to coast along and live happily ever after.
I thought it would happen when I was a senior in high school (hahahhahahaha). I thought it would happen in college. I thought it would happen when I had a boyfriend. I thought it would happen when I got married. I thought it would happen when I found a job...and on and on it goes. Fortunately, I’m starting to get the point, and I fully expect that I will not feel any assurance of my adult status when I have children someday.
Because I know now that my dad was absolutely right. Even though I’ve done more and more adult-like things as I’ve gotten older, and I feel more sure about some things than I used to, I still feel like I’m making it up as I go. The one time that I really do feel “older” is when I see people younger than me, or think about where I was X number of years ago. It’s only then that I realize how far I’ve come (although it only takes looking at someone older than me to see how far I have to go). It’s a gradual process with no definite date that I can mark as my “adult-i-versary.”
And while part of me will always kind of hate that it’s a process, a new part of me has started to actually appreciate it. I’ll never be done, but that means that I’m not done yet! I can grow and change and learn new things and become more than whom I was before. (And that goes for everyone -- sometimes I need to remember that people further along than me aren’t done either. Grandma Moses started painting in her 70s, people.)
So, are we “there” yet? Nope. None of us are, and not only is that okay, but it’s freeing. We don’t have a deadline to be perfect grown-ups. We are free to celebrate where we’ve been and look with hope to where we can still go by God’s grace, because really, He’s the one in charge of the whole process: “[H]e who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).