Childhood is fun. Of course, when we are children, we think that there is some greater significance in being an adult. Then we become adults…and we become nostalgic for our childhood days, friends, and activities. The truth is that growing up sucks big time. No one tells you why being an adult is so difficult. But at the risk of sounding simplistic I see one big difference between adulthood and childhood: a well-honed ability to conceal our deeper emotions and hide our true selves. Getting to this state is a grueling process. We slam our fingers in the emotional “doors” of life at home, school, work and church until we figure out that it’s not safe to be emotionally available to others…or at least not on a deep level. Girls become superficial and guys become “commitmentphobic.” And then we make a big life decision. Not the big ones you are thinking of though this one impacts all the others. We decide to share only 10% of who we are with others. Why only 10%? Because those are the only parts of us we can control in public. And the other 90% turns into anxiety, concealed rage, depression, and addiction.
Depressing, huh? Yep.
God never designed us to live this way. He thinks you’re okay. But part of adulthood is conceding to the fact that others don’t think you are. They criticize, judge, and manipulate to prove this to you. Sadly, Jesus bled out on a cross to show you the exact opposite. Could that be true? It’s a risk to believe something so radical. I came across this quote in Dallas Willard’s book, The Divine Conspiracy. He describes mature spirituality in a way that seems foreign to what we encounter daily:
Interestingly, ‘growing up’ is largely a matter of learning to hide our spirit behind our face, eyes, and language so that we can evade and manage to achieve what we want and avoid what we fear. By contrast, the child’s face is a constant epiphany because it doesn’t yet know how to do this. It cannot manage its face. This is also true of adults in moments of great feeling–which is one reason why feeling is both greatly treasured and greatly feared. Those who have attained considerable spiritual stature are frequently noted for their ‘childlikeness.’ What this really means is that they do not use their face and body to hide their spiritual reality. In their body they are genuinely present to those around them. That is a great spiritual attainment or gift.”
There’s no need to be afraid of who we truly are. If you haven’t made a New Year’s Resolution yet, here’s one to consider. Refuse to grow up. Refuse to hide the best of who you are from others. Be childlike…so much so that your emotional and spiritual states shine through your body and facial expressions. Say “no thanks” to intimidation, social pressure, and shame…and just be you.