Shedding the Skin of Adulthood
You hear people tell stories of their childhood. You listen as they talk of times when the air around them seemed to have a sweeter aroma. It is as if their days of youth held a little extra something that livened up their insides. They recount scenario after scenario of when they were totally and completely childlike. When the opinions of those around them were inconsequential and their inquisitiveness kept them dreaming.
It is there inside all of us, that child. The one we like to tell stories about. The one that wanted to be a doctor on Monday but by Wednesday was ambitious enough to claim an astronaut as the goal. Cardboard boxes were our transportation to anywhere we wanted to go. Hair brushes were our microphones on the largest stages. We speak of that part of us in past tense. Memories we like to reminiscence on. However, this part of us, this version of us, was never intended to be spoken of in the past tense. It was always intended to stay.
“I want to dance again like I did when I was a kid.”
“I want to laugh again like I did when I was a kid.”
“I want to imagine again like I did when I was a kid.”
Why have some of us come to believe that we left all that we were as kids in our childhood? What would it be for you? What parts of yourself do you miss that you use to be when the worries were less and the adventures were greater? That part of you did not die as you grew. That part of you has simply gotten lost along the way as your adultness has tried to take the steering wheel. What if we took the hands off the wheel and climbed back into the backseat where we once sat and let our Father drive?
For some of us, it is a matter of going back and rediscovering what has been there all along. We shift from the child to the adult and then have to shift back to the child. For me and for others, it seems opposite. I feel as if I never was the child at all. At age eight, my father died and when he died so did my childhood. There is nothing but a thick fog up until the age of eight. In many ways, it feels as if that is where life ended, but also began.
I know this is not truth. However, it is all I know. So now as I take a deep look into my reflection, the Lord has been dropping handfuls of rocks into the pond and there is no clear picture of who I am. There is only distortion and I have chosen to live in it. I am embarking on a journey to discover who I am. What I thought is being been dismantled by the kindness of the Holy Spirit who loves us too much to let us stay where we are. He will not settle for false-self. He will not settle for misconception of identity. He will keep at it for those of us who are His children who are serving as an amnesiac understudies. We so often forget. We often see wrong. We often settle for what we have always known. What we have always known does not constitute as grounds for the right way of living. There is a better way.
You see. You see and then you act.
I now know that what I long for most in the world is not to be seen. It is not to be known. It is not to be applauded. It is to have a childhood. It is what so many of us are looking for.
With Jesus, childhood is not a page in the book that we turn. Childhood is the whole story. To get what I have always wanted, I need only to step into what He has been offering all along.
To step into that, I must first step out of the quicksand I have been standing in for years, not realizing I have been sinking far before now.
I must step out of these tendencies of mine.
The ones that that drive me to levels of un-authenticity because conforming will get me the approval of whoever is in the room. The ones that let striving be a 9-5 job that lets me feel acknowledged for what I have accomplished, yet living far away from Jesus’ intended reality for the rest for my life. The ones that are so utterly desperate to hear the words, “good job,” that it causes me to seek my own glory even in the midst of ministry opportunities.
We think we are looking to satisfy our heart with these things.
We are not satisfying our hearts. We are gratifying our flesh. The egocentric mind is seeking self-recognition. It is searching for security in the words of others. A never ending journey where insecurities are taking us on an expectation to find what we are looking for, not knowing that a dead end is all that awaits us. It is not insecurity that we are being governed by, it is our flesh. The mind governed by flesh is death. We think these are the things that will give us life. When on the contrary these things are taking life from us.
Our flesh, it is starving. The applause. The acknowledgements. It curbs its appetite. We must let it starve. We have to stop feeding it. As we let it starve, we let it enter into the final stages of life. It must be put to rest. We must let it die. For it to die, is for us to live. Not only live, but live fully.
If the applause is feeding my flesh, then what will suffocate it is anonymity, secret places, hidden seasons, and intimacy. Hide me. Keep me hidden. There the flesh can die. There I can finally live. Lord, let my mind be governed by the spirit.
The list could go on and on of the places where my flesh is raging and the tendencies I need to step out of. What about you? What do you need to step out of? How alive is your flesh?
The truth is whatever those things are, no child does those things. Maybe then the root of so much of where we find ourselves struggling comes back to the fact we aren’t being the child. Could it be that simple? I am starting to see that it is. While it is complex to untangle the chords, the solution has and always will be the same - step into childhood.
I am learning and we must all learn that it matters what we preface the word “father” with. I must not let myself forgot to let there be a “my” before it. He is not just a father. He is my father. To understand that. To acknowledge Him as that. It is the first step into childhood.
Go on now, shed the skin of your adulthood.