have been “adulting” this week!
Yes, I know that “adulting” is not a word nor a verb, but I feel very “adult” this week.
I finally got a call to do some temp work at a firm in the downtown area and have not only gotten myself up, showered, dressed and out the door, but managed the public transportation system and spend time in an office with real people all day!
It’s funny the things you forget about when you haven’t worked in an office for a while.
I forgot that “getting to” wear jeans on Friday is something people look forward to all week.
I forgot that there are a vast number of people who have absolutely no idea there are others on the sidewalk with them at any given moment and that, even if they did remember this, they don’t really care.
And I forgot that the snippets of conversation you hear walking through an office or sitting on the train can provide huge insights and reminders into our lives as a whole.
For example, I was reminded that we human beings are seemingly hardwired to want something other than that which is immediately in front of us; something other that “low hanging fruit” that God has graciously place in our line of sight.
Think about it. You look in the fridge for something to eat and you typically want something – ANYTHING – other than what is readily available. Or for people like me who love coffee, somehow the office coffee is simply never good enough even though it would probably taste just fine if it were presented to us at a restaurant. For some reason, the fact that things are “free” are often seen as lesser; something unworthy or undesirable.
Reading an article in Today’s Christian Woman magazine I was also reminded that this same phenomenon applies to age in general and the aging process as a whole.
Remember being little and every time someone would ask you how old you are, you would age up? If you were 5, you would say you were “almost 6” or “5 and a half”. Pre-teen years brought longing for driver’s licenses and then once we had the ability to drive, we couldn’t wait to get to 21 – to be able to drink (legally) and be considered an actual adult.
When we’re young, the physical changes that come with getting older are welcomed. We relished growing taller, looking older, being seen as “mature”.
But somewhere that all changed. Being young suddenly became what we were striving for and spending more and more time and money on achieving.
So what is it that makes us so dissatisfied with the things around us? Why do we always want something other than what God has so graciously given us?
Some would say its “the devil”- that whole “the devil made me do it” thing. In other words, its our sinful nature that makes us unhappy with what we have. After all, the devil -via the snake – convinced Adam and Eve there was more to be had than all the wonders that God had provided in the entire Garden. Surely without the Devil’s taunting, Adam and Eve would have lived in blissful ignorance to the “dark side”, right?
I don’t think so.
God placed that tree (as far as we know) smack dab in the middle of the garden so Adam and Eve saw it every day. They walked by it, God told them about it, and at some point, their curiosity got the better of them and they allowed the words from the Devil to influence them and their actions.
But – at least the way I view it – this was not a surprise in any way to God. He created Adam and Eve as well as each of us with curious minds and the ability to learn and grow emotionally and spiritually so we could see all of the wonders of the world He created, but to then be able to learn that all of it is useless without Him.
God created us with bodies and minds that change. I don’t believe, as some suggest, that this was done as a punishment for sin, but to keep us always learning and growing in understanding of the world around us.
As we gain wisdom and insight into things through age and experience, our world becomes bigger. God allows us to grow older physically and mentally so that the ability to experience something new or different never goes away – we always have the ability to see things as new each day. To me, this is part of the mercies that the writer of Lamentations speaks of. It’s not just that we get another day to try to do things well or better than yesterday, but that we get to see things in light of understanding that we have gained through experience.
But here is the challenging thing – at least for me. Growing older also means looking older – and in our society, this is definitely frowned upon. Women, in particular, are pressured to continue to be fit and maintain a hair color that is something other than the silver that time otherwise presents us with. I, for one, spend a good deal of time and energy working to keep my outward appearance as close to my younger self as possible. While parts of that are good (keeping my body a strong and healthy honors God and His creation of me), there is a point at which it becomes more about vanity and less about health.
The same is true in regards to that low hanging fruit I mentioned earlier. God places those things where we can easily get to them not just to make it easy for us, but to remind us that He will provide every single day. Some days the things that He has provided are indeed hard to get to. We have to reach higher, fight harder to get them. God, in His wisdom, knows that we tire of the fight – that we can only make that hard push for so long before we collapse – so He provides us with the opportunity to enjoy gifts that are easy to find and reach.
So where is the line? How do we know which of the low hanging fruits we should take and which of the more difficult ones I should reach for?
This is where the gifts of the Spirit come in – wisdom and discernment. The Spirit will lead us in the direction we need to go if we ask and then obey. For example, I may really prefer to go to Starbucks for coffee on my way to my temporary job, but that soft little voice in my heart reminds me that there is coffee at my disposal where I am going. I don’t need to spend that $6 for the super special coffee when the free coffee will feed me equally well.
And while I may want desperately to give into the desire to rid myself of the fine lines and wrinkles I see or go get that boob job so my breasts will stay where God put them in the first place, dang it, I can listen to that still soft voice and know that those lines and wrinkles represent the lessons I fought hard to learn and the wisdom I gained as a result; I can know that the force of gravity that pulls my breasts in directions I wish they wouldn’t go is molding me and changing me to be physically more of who God envisions me to be.
I cannot lie and say his means I am suddenly going to let my hair go gray or slow down my exercise routine. For better or worse, these are vanities I am unable and unwilling to relinquish for now. But what it does mean is that I am going to work harder to acknowledge and rejoice in the mercies God provides every day; to see the low hanging fruits for the blessings they are and not dismiss them for something I think I want or believe are better than what I see immediately in front of me.
See? I am becoming an adult after all!