I needed her to vouch for me, but the reluctant “uh” and rhetorical sidestep let me know she didn’t have my back!
It’s graduation season and everyone is focused on future success, but I have a feeling there’s something missing from our lively dinner party conversations and graduation speeches. It’s missing because we like to talk to graduates about growing up and reaching goals, while quietly sweeping under the carpet the realities that come with it.
Let’s face it. “Adulting” is no fun. When you’re a kid you’re allowed—even encouraged to have fun! But as we grow older we’re expected to “put away childish things” and set about grown folk’s business—all the business we were shooed away from during our childhood, I might add. Now we’re expected to solve adult problems–and be quick about it! There’s no time for dallying with paint brushes and poetry!
People grow out of creativity the way they grow out of their belief in Santa Claus. It falls by the wayside along with the Easter Bunny and the Tooth fairy. The closer we get to adulthood, the more we learn that mistakes are to be avoided and failure is not an option. We have to get it right the first time:
- What will your major be when you get to college? And don’t change your mind! Even if you find yourself in classes that leave you drained.
- What will you do after you graduate? Don’t get it wrong! Nevermind that you’re brain dead from all those classes that you hated. Now you have a degree that you don’t want and it’s time to find a job that you’ll want even less!
- Then what? Spend the next 30 years showing up every day for a paycheck just because you chose to be an adult?
Nah. Let’s not put away childish things. Let’s be a kid again!
You know the great thing about kids? They mess up. And they know it! And when they mess up, you know what they do? They own it– “Oops…sorry!” Then they dust themselves off and move on! Can you imagine? Suppose you chose the wrong major? The wrong job, the wrong career or maybe you just made a mistake? Rather than acting like an adult and trying to explain it away, justifying it, acting as if you meant to do it, covering it up and pretending it wasn’t a mistake at all, why not be a kid? Own it. “Oops…sorry!” and move on!
You know what that will allow you to do? Make another choice!
It will allow you the freedom to choose another path, another job, another major, maybe another class. You won’t have to pretend as if you have all the answers or have it all together. You’ll be free from a life of misery, doing something that you never wanted to do just to please people you don’t even know!
Being a kid frees you to be creative, to try something new, to see what happens, because you can’t always predict what will happen, but that’s what’s exciting–and liberating–because when you’re a kid you’re not afraid of failure. Messing up is part of the process of growing up, yet growing up is an ongoing process of which kids have no real concept. For a kid, to grow up is just a willingness to surrender to the euphoria of free-falling into the open spaces of possibility without any clear sense of where the end will be, but to enjoy the exhileration of pure experience.
In other words…Kids know how to live!
We adults could learn a thing or two. This graduation season, I’m going to see if I can find that carefree kid that I used to be. She’s probably up for some fun, how about you?
Cover Photo credit: Himanshu Singh Gurjar (@himanshu723)
Ever wonder what it was like for the Israelites trekking through the desert towards the “Promised Land” after so many years in slavery?
Do you know the story? The descendants of Joseph had overstayed their welcome in Egypt, now they were enslaved by the Egyptians. For years they had been bound, fettered to hard labor, working their fingers to the bone and seeing no benefits from their efforts. They watched the days, weeks, months and years roll by without any hope for their own progress or success. The extent of their hopes and dreams were merely to stay alive another day.
But then God raised up Moses as an unlikely leader who negotiated their freedom and the day finally came when their chains were loosed. They were able to move forward at last—unbound, uninhibited! What an amazing moment that must have been for them, released from their darkness, they burst into the light of day! The possibilities were endless, their choices unlimited, the whole earth spread out before them in one glorious, lavish landscape flowing with milk and honey. As they made their way to towards the Promised land their imaginations must have bloomed like flowers in May as their voices lifted in song above the hazy cloud hovering overhead…
but then they saw it.
The frothy waves of the Red Sea lapping the shores of the desert sand before them and, just as suddenly, behind them another wave–Pharoah’s army, horses and chariots galloping from the other side. They were literally trapped between “the Devil and the deep blue sea”!
What would you do in an impossible situation like that? Perhaps the temptation would be to surrender. To slip quietly, obediently, back into slavery. It’s safe. It’s familiar. There’s less risk. You might think:
Why did I think I could get away, after all? That wasn’t really realistic. Just look at the odds, I’ve been at this slave thing for so long, I’m too old for change now; there’s too much at stake; there are too many unknowns in this so-called “Promised Land”. I don’t know what’s really on the other side. What’s “out there” may not be any better than what’s over here. The grass is not always greener, you know…
Do you hear how easily we talk ourselves out of it? When we’ve been enslaved by negative thinking it controls us and hinders us from moving forward. We spend our whole lives imagining what we would do “if only we were free,” but we never make any moves towards changing our situation. We only imagine it, or we get right up to the Red Sea—that point in our journey where we have to take a leap of faith before we can ever get to the Promised Land, and like Pharoah’s army, all our second-thoughts and uncertainties come rushing in like a flood to discourage us.
But, like the Israelites, we’re faced with a crucial choice: will we turn away from the Promise or will we take the leap?
It must have been terrifying standing on the edge of the Red Sea without a raft, a boat, an ark—no physical evidence that what they were being asked to do made any sense at all. Moses was telling them to walk into the sea. It sounded like mass suicide! Yet, someone had to take the first step. Someone had to believe that putting one foot in front of the other is all that’s required for the miracle to happen–whether the physical evidence is there or not–whether the plan is fully developed or not–whether all of the questions are answered or not. One step.
Have you ever found yourself on the edge? Has your path led you to a decision point that now requires you to take a leap of faith? It can be scary, but don’t let your Pharaoh talk you out of the Promise. The miracle will happen. You just have to take the leap!
Cover Photo credit: pixabay.com
Life is full of choices.
Coffee or tea?
Black socks or blue socks?
Toll roads or back roads?
But, it’s the the stuff we don’t get to choose that causes problems: circumstances
Sometimes they are the result of our choices and sometimes they’re handed to us without our consent. Nonetheless, we still have a choice. We can choose our response. How we respond to circumstances will make all the difference in whether we wallow in misery or live a fulfilled and prosperous life.
It’s hard, though. Circumstances can knock the wind out of you–just ask anyone who’s suffered a loss–the loss of a loved one, loss of an opportunity, loss of physical or mental wholeness–circumstances can make you feel as though there is no such thing as choice. Stuff happens and we are the victim of it–helpless, hopeless and without agency.
Yet, it is in those moments of our greatest defeat that we must resist the urge to lay down. We must choose joy.
The one thing that makes us human is the power that God gave us in the very beginning. It is the only power that still remains. Although we lost our ability to commune with Him face to face, lost immortality and lost access to paradise–the one thing that we retained was the power to choose! And it is this power that can lead us back to everything that we lost. We can choose:
- to focus on what’s left. What remains?
- to look at what we can do, rather than what we can’t
- to look at what we have, rather than what we don’t
And by doing so, we will find joy, which is different from happiness. Happiness is a temporary feeling, a fleeting emotion. Joy is an acceptance of circumstances and a choice to be content anyway. We must resist the urge to give up, as tempting as it is.
Even if our choices are reduced, diminished or shifted, they are never absent because the choices that we seek are not out there, but in here–inside of us. The crucial question is: What is it that I need to do to change my perspective on these circumstances? That is what will make all the difference.
I can speak on this topic because I am personally challenged by some tough choices and circumstances, and it’s difficult to know the right way to go. Although the cloud of failure is ever looming overhead and uncertainty swirls all around, I must decide which way to go.
My daughter, the artist, decided to paint this cover photo for me, and in the wisdom of a child she has captured beautifully this moment, this point where I must decide. Of course, one small problem with her rendering is that it assumes “my way” will take me in the opposite direction of “God’s way,” which, I hope is not the case. But whatever my decision, I know I must choose wisely and I must choose joy. I would advise you to do the same.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13