Childlike Adulting

Running from studying in the library to study some more in my room, I sigh. Childhood really was the good old days:

When our momma sang us to sleep

Where the biggest decision one had to make was what toy to spend one’s birthday money on and how to get you best friend to come over to your house.

But now we’re stressed out

Now, the possibilities are endless and life-changing events can happen in the same night as you write two 10 page research papers and study for 3 exams.

 ‘Adulting’ looks pretty scary when you meet it at a job interview, in the library, or on the side of the road when your car breaks down. Running away from it seems really appealing.

 

Ruth B hit’s the money on this one she says

"Run, run, lost boy, " they say to me

Away from all of reality

Neverland is home to lost boys like me

And lost boys like me are free” .

Pursuing the freedom of being a ‘lost boy’ is really tempting. For if you are lost, your responsibilities can’t find you, right?

But, most of us don’t run away forever or even want to. Eventually that interview is done, the research paper is conquered, and the car is fixed. And we begin to look to the day when we have it all together. We look forward to when we can handle things on our own: a job, spouse, kids, etc. But, somehow that life, though good, doesn’t have the magic of Neverland. For we see such lifestyles everyday: in our parents and in the majority of Americans around us. And it looks like the magic of really ‘enjoying life’ is gone.

Maybe we are afraid that we will no longer be able to hear Santa’s bell from Polar Express. For in the movie, you had to believe in Santa to hear it, and grown ups can’t hear the bell. In the movie to hear the bell you had to believe in Santa--grown ups couldn’t hear it.  Growing up can seem to deny childhood. Forever. And so, we try to hold out, color in our coloring books and drink our juice boxes. All the while, the bell gets fainter and fainter.

Or should we just buck up and grow up? Should we just call those who long for childhood again childish and move on? I mean, childhood really isn’t worth much: Kids are illogical and full of ‘wrong’ emotions, right?

We’ve all seen that one kid in Walmart. She wants something and doesn’t get it. So, she stages World War III, and her mom and dad can do nothing but try to console her/bribe her so she will calm down.

Or, have you ever tried to teach a child how to do something? You have to repeat how to do something again and again. I still remember getting down on the floor, day after day, to tie my shoes. I didn’t really feel it at the time, but it must have been frustrating for my parents to remind me again and again how to do this basic thing.

But there are some things about childhood that are worth revisiting and learning from. Richard J. Leyda a Professor at Biola University wrote in his article “Childlikeness an Essential for Disciples” that children have four basic traits: lowliness, humility, dependency, and helplessness. That sure sounds like something to emulate right? Something that will bring in the big bucks and wow your parents at how responsible you are.

But Jesus talks about being a child he says in Matthew 18:3-4 says, ““Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (ESV).

Leyda quotes M.I. Wilkins who says, “Childlikeness is a characteristic of all true disciples, because it is only through God’s mercy that a person can enter the kingdom and find the greatness that comes from having one’s sins forgiven and being invested with kingdom life (p. 613 qtd in Leyda, 325)”. Thus, as Christians, it is exactly our acknowledgement of our lowliness that lets us see our need for him.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of being weak. Often, emotions can seem like the weakest things in the world to me. They aren’t predictable not always containable, and not well versed in the realm of logic. I have often tried to ignore ‘my weakness’ but simply calling something invisible does not make it invisible: it often only makes its appearance all the more shocking to those around you. Often, I want to pretend I am strong, when actually I’m childish in my pain and selfishness.  But, I am learning to acknowledge my weakness: both to God and then to others --and that takes a lot of humility.  

I think God is calling us to a similar life-posture: he is calling us to humble ourselves, admit we are weak, and come to the kingdom of heaven as a child. Then we are supposed to come to him again and again admitting our weaknesses and pride instead of just think we are supposed to hold it together.

For God has grace for our failures. Paul learned this too. He had a weakness that he prayed again and again to be overcome but instead of taking it away, Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s next statement is this: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (ESV).

I want to come to God, with all my childish insecurities and feelings of being overwhelmed knowing that our God is the kind of father who is willing to accept us: even though our emotions are kirwonked and askew as a child’s drawing. Thus, we should go into adulthood bravely, but not forgetting that we still have a father that will receive us when we are insecure and overwhelmed.

So, this means we can embrace everything childish wholeheartedly, right, boasting that we are weak? I do not think so: for we are called to give up childish ways (1 Corinthians 13:11). Does this mean giving up juice boxes and coloring? Maybe not...Unless it is the way you try to escape and fly away from your problems: for a world ignored is a world that changes without you.  Does it mean stopping getting frustrated and throwing fits when things don’t go your way? I think so.


A brave new world of adulthood should draw us closer to the God who wants us to come to him like a child. Remember, it’s really not about pretending that you have it all together. For if you just pretend you have it all together, how can you show the grace of God in your weakness?

Works Cited

Leyda, Richard J. "Childlikeness: An Essential For Disciples." Christian Education Journal 4.2 (2007): 322-339. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. Web. 14 Dec. 2016.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (ESV), Containing the Old and New Testaments. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011. Print.

Jubilee is a Senior Christian Studies: Bible Option major at Bryan College and an intern with the Worldview Initiative. Currently, she is looking to pursue a career in linguistics. She loves investing in people, diving into the Biblical languages, Ultimate Frisbee, and sunsets.