Before I begin – or by way of beginning , I’ve stolen the phrase, “Reality is like a fine wine” from Donald Miller’s Searching For God Knows What, which I happened to start (pretty timely) this evening. I think the phrase is both satisfying, beautiful and pretty relevant to what I want to say.
This week a friend asked me quite out of the blue, “What is maturity and how do people become mature?” (In the context I think of Christianity) It’s a far larger question than I gave proper concern to at the time and I was pretty flabbergasted about how I should go about answering her effectively.
In my slight late night stupor I made mention of living life directed beyond yourself and other such (lame) things. Perhaps this was touching the surface, but I by no means did the question justice.
So this morning when we had a ‘four-corners’ morning at church and one session was on, “Maturity and growth” I did a bit of a mind dance (the only kind of dance I ever do) and deserted the idea of joining the youth.
It was a fairly big dissapointment in terms of what I was after. You really shouldn’t always enter with tight specifications/expectations or you are far too eaisly let down. Whatever the case, I didn’t really hear anything very well due to her style and her approach which really just wasn’t me. I spent the majority of the time getting frustrated at myself for being frustrated, checking alternate passages in the Bible, contemplating something a guy said during prophesy time this morning that went totally against something she said and the other bit of the time just a little bit furious over some ‘American’ comment or other.
Luckily for you, this is now a very large part of why you are reading a post on maturity. So my ‘tight specifications’ here are to make some kind of small headway in to looking at what it is. That saying, this will most likely (at the best) only suceed to throw up the question in your own face. I can hope that I can have further conversations with you about this.
I think the curious thing about looking at maturity for me personally is that so many of the underlying things about maturity and growth like change and patience have all been rather big issues for me. Pain in the butt type things and I think it’s probably a pretty common road we all find at some stage.
“My verse” for last year, the one that just ‘happened’ was, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” – Heb 12:2 (the first part)
Which I possibly misconstrue it in my mind at several stages, but hung on to it pretty tightly and I hope sought to do what it said. It was a year for a lot of growth.
I also, (and am not too ashamed to admit it… I think) read a lot of non-fiction, some of which could be described as ‘self-help’. It’s no secret that it facinates me and I do hope that I keep things in perspective. I definitely like the idea of, ‘growing me’ and it’s really easy to get off the right track and think I can manage by myself and work things out and set things up.
So my background for growth and maturity hasn’t been that passive at all, although breaking things down into a tangible process and working out ‘what’s happened’ is tricky.
To cut back to the wine quote, let me give you the fuller version (which is laughably not much fuller).
“Reality is like a fine wine… it will not appeal to children.”
Why equate maturity with reality? I hope I’m not doing that, but reality is what happens to us. We aren’t technically children any more (unless there are any odd exceptions reading this blog) although we certainly act like children and approach life in childish ways far too often.
One of the primary childish ways I fall for over and over again is the issue of control. I’d like very much to have a step by step process to form maturity in me. Then I know what’s going on. I can determine how fast that happens. I can get a grasp on God and on myself and on my life and where it’s going.
The more I look at maturity (just by what I’ve come across today even) is that so much of it isn’t our business at all.
The incongruency I came across today in the prophesy/’sermon’ was do with how, “Circumstances don’t mould us, God does”. Which at a quick look sits fine, but maybe doesn’t take into account that circumstances have a huge impact on who we are and what we become. Then of course you can use the plee that, ‘God directs all the circumstances in our lives’.
It’s interesting really how the dictionary definition for mature gives the following:
- Having reached full natural growth or development
- Having reached a desired or final condition
- Worked out fully by the mind
- No longer subject to great expansion or development
…and other such similar things.
If an ‘end point’ is the subject of becoming mature, there’s got to be a LOT more God in it than us.
I was going to chuck a lump of verses your way, contextualise them etc… but it’s not happening. So a few of those I’ve been thinking about through this,
Maturity is hard to gauge, impossible to plot out except sometimes in retrospect where you can see what you were and who you’ve become.
I like learning, I like growing. The further I get along the supposed life continum the more blurry any clear learning gets. I’m really quite unsure of a lot of the God stuff at the moment, how it all plays out. I’m just sure God’s trying to blow a few preconceptions out of the water,
“The truth is there are a million steps, and we don’t even know what the steps are, and worse, at any given moment we may not be willing or even able to take them; and still worse, they are different for you and me and they are always changing. I have come to believe the sooner we find this truth beautiful, the sooner we will fall in love with the God who keeps shaking things up, keeps changing the path, keeps rocking the boat to test our faith in Him, teaching us not to rely on easy answer, bullet points, magic mantras, or genies in lamps, but rather on His guidance, His existence, His mercy and His love.” – (Searching for God Knows What)
We can think we know who God is, and we can even think we know who we are and then hit the point of realising we don’t know very much at all.
Maturity I don’t think is something we can force. We can try all we like to extend our character. We’ll have those life situations that make us grow up quickly, but ultimately it isn’t something we can do by ourselves or on our own. I’m still starting to think now that perhaps we should really just let God deal with the whole lot and instead just look at who he is… not of course as an excuse for a passive existence. Hopefully maturity is us pushing ourselves (perhaps with a bit of intention) to live holy lives. Impossible without God. Steering clear from childish behavior but still approaching the throne of grace with the childlike acknowledgement of Father.
How to be mature? I think that one is for you to figure out and to ask God about if you dare to have made clear those areas that are childish.
Far from my rather arrogant position this morning of not really ‘geling’ with the whole Growth/Maturity sermon, I think perhaps I was looking for a far more formulated process.
Maturity is a huge amount about, who God is, obedience, surrender and sacrifice. (Her points)
How maturity plays out and will play out in your own life of course is something I can’t tell you. I can hardly touch the corners of it in my own reality.
It’s a good thing that God’s doing the ‘good work in me‘.
…and really, was the gut of this post maturity or something else altogether?