The New Frontier

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“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
― Anne Frank ―


This is my first time being an adult, and I’m afraid I’m not very good at it.

No trial runs were offered me, though, so I guess I’ll just have to do my best and see what happens. Responsibilities to juggle, decisions to make, futures to determine…it is all very sobering.

One of the strangest things about growing up is how that impacts the family dynamic. We’re in an odd place as a family. Two adult children, 19 and (almost) 23, with both parents working at home. My brother is in college online. I work long-distance, also online. Mom keeps the farm running like the proverbial “well-oiled machine.” Dad works on the farm and does consulting work for a Gulf Coast pipeline company.

Four adults, bound up in one house, who must all work together somehow as a team. I won’t lie…it can be a challenge.

Plus, two of these four adults–namely, my brother and I–have spent the last 20 years or so learning to be obedient children.

Now, suddenly, we have been thrust into the world of adulthood, and I’m not quite sure how to act.

“This is your decision,” my parents tell me, and I know it is true…but what am I to do with this new thing called adulthood?

Honestly, the hardest thing about being grown up is not the responsibilities or the decisions. There is a certain…depth to the new situations I face and the deeper kind of hurts that I receive now that they are not being filtered through my parents all the time. I appreciate how God is using the sometimes-difficult realities of adulthood to grow me spiritually.

However, the hardest thing is knowing how to be a grown-up daughter who lives at home.

And, if you were hoping for a list of answers…I’m afraid I can’t help. I am feeling my way through this too. As an adult-child, it is hard to tell where house rules end and personal choices begin. I want so desperately to please my parents, yet I want to cultivate my own convictions and approaches as well.

Sometimes, it gets messy.

My parents–especially my mom–have been superbly involved in my life ever since childhood. I cannot even count the ways that they have taught me, given me opportunities, encouraged me, toned me down…they have truly been absolutely amazing, godly parents. There are probably a hundred day-by-day things in this family that I take for granted, but know I want to implement someday in a home of my own.

So, for 20 plus years, my parents have been instilling great truths in me. Over two decades, involved parenting becomes a habit. It has been a beautiful, necessary part of my growing up.

Now, I can only imagine how hard it must be for Mom and Dad to re-route these parenting habits into adult-to-adult interactions (especially when I still behave like a child sometimes!)

Meanwhile, from my perspective, I am trying to figure this whole grown-up thing out…and certainly not always succeeding. I’ll be honest–I skipped out on the teen rebellion, but my hardest battles with honoring authority set in after I became an adult.

These are uncharted waters. Old ways are familiar, yet they are like too-tight shoes long grown out of. New ways…how do I begin to lay a foundation for interacting with my parents as an adult?

There are many perspectives on the proper relation of a single, adult daughter to her parents. My views might seem too loose for some of you, and far too conservative to others.

Bottom line: I am an adult, responsible before God for my decisions. God has told me in His Word that I am to honor my parents–not any longer as a child obeys, but as a mature adult, who seeks to respect and bring praise to the many years of self-sacrificing parenthood that both my mom and my dad have given to me.

This is complicated by the fact that I live under their roof. I want to be useful at home–not a drain on the family finances. I want to honor the “house rules,” while somehow deciphering which parts are “house rules,” and which are optional approaches that I must decide for myself.

I will be utterly honest here: I tend to have an independent spirit. 

This can be both good and bad.

Good, because I don’t want to shirk responsibility. Good, because I know that God has created me for good works He has laid out for me individually to accomplish. Good, because I can approach certain new situations with confidence.

Bad, because God sets His people in the context of community. Bad, because the healthy desire to be grown-up can grow into a resentment of any constraints. Bad, because I often expect the right to rule myself without any advice or interference.

There is a certain measure of initiative, confidence, and self-possession that is healthy for a child of God–but it can be overrun by pride.

Mine rears its ugly head, typically in a scenario like this:

Mom: “How is work going today? Are you getting all your hours in?”

Me: (thinking): She is checking up on me. She doesn’t think I’m responsible enough to get my work done without being reminded. (I start to get irritated.) “It’s fine.”

Mom: “Do you think you’ll finish it in time?”

Me: (now biting my lip tightly to keep the frustration from spilling over) “Yes, I think so. I can take care of it.” (Not a raised voice…but a tight one. Definitely not the joyful, communicative soul I aspire to be…)

What just happened?

Well, Mom wants to be involved in my life and wants to help me succeed. I remind my family members of things all the time. So why is it that I start to get hot under the collar when someone else  reminds me of something I should do?

Pride. 

I want to chart my own course. I want to control my own way. I want to be my own boss–so much so that I cannot even listen to advice without quietly arguing my own opinion. I’ve never ranted or railed or outright rebelled–but I’ve done plenty of pouting and quiet resisting of godly advice.

So what if I don’t need a reminder or I have a different opinion than my parents? They are still the parents God gave me to honor. My pride can take a hike and I can humbly listen to wisdom.

The balancing act of relationships transitioning is marked by uncertainty. Keep the communication open and your ego squashed.

I am learning as I go. I’ve never done this before…and neither have my parents. They are doing a fantastic job, steadily giving over more responsibility and freedom as I mature.

We are charting a new frontier together.

If you are passing through this same journey into adulthood, be patient with your parents. They aren’t going to get it right, and neither will you. Ask God for grace to squash down your pride and just listen. As an adult, you are not bound to obey, but you must whole-heartedly honor them. Honestly, they’ve seen a bit more of life than you. Being an adult is no piece of cake, and they have invaluable experience at this whole grown-up thing. Make use of that…it is God’s gift to you.

Beating your chest and yelling about your rights Tarzan-style is never a good choice. Just because you can make certain decisions as an adult, doesn’t mean you should. There is a lure to the unknown, the unexperienced, the new, all things “out there” away from accountability.  Whether you are away at college, or working, with an apartment of your own, or living with your parents, remember: They love you. Don’t take it personally. Advice doesn’t mean they think you’re a failure without them. It means they care. Receive the advice with grace. Learn from them as much as you can soak up. Appreciate their involvement–lots of people don’t have that. And if you come to a decision where you and they just don’t see eye to eye…douse it with prayer. I can’t tell you what to decide, but whatever you do, do it with honor and the knowledge that they can often see a lot better than you can. Just because we’re “legal” doesn’t mean we get an automatic infusion of wisdom. That’s what parents are for.

“The way of fools seems right to them,
    but the wise listen to advice.” – Proverbs 12:15, NIV

So, maybe I haven’t cleared up much for you. I sure don’t have this figured out. Tomorrow, I’ll probably be speaking this truth to my heart again, doing some more pride-squashing.

Jesus never promised uncomplicated answers. But God does promise wisdom to the true seeker (James 1:5-6). I can pretty much guarantee this: If I consistently put the priorities of Jesus ahead of the priorities of Shelbie, much of my adulthood-angst would vanish. It’s when Shelbie gets in the way that things get muddy.

Adulthood is a wild, uncharted frontier, but we do not walk it alone. God has built special people into our lives to cheer us on and share their experience.

That’s not a reason to groan. It is something to make you deeply, overwhelmingly thankful.


“Blessed be the Lord,
Who daily loads us with benefits,
The God of our salvation!”

– Psalm 68:19, NKJV –

 

 

 

Wonder

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“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.

But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

― G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy 


Maybe all of us have grown up too much, too fast.

And imagination has lost ground to dazzling virtual realities, so that we don’t have to stretch out with our creativity quite so much. Have you noticed that it takes more and more to capture kids attention these days?

Have we lost all our wonder?

Somewhere along the way, I have lost the wonder, like an addict who needs just a bit more to get his high.

And I walk by the flag proudly snapping in the morning wind, glance past the dusky velvet of the upturned caladium leaves, pass the wide-eyed child without even cracking a smile.

I do it without wonder, because brightness has blinded my jaded eyes.

You know, wonder, I think, is deeply tied to thankfulness. Being so full of thanks that it bubbles out in smiles and sparkling eyes.

So today I slow.

Like a child learning to walk again I try to school myself in the steps of wonder. I breathe, smile, try to pry my eyes open a little wider.

“Help me see.” It’s becoming a rhythmic sort of prayer.

Habits are such tiny, unseen, huge, life-shifting things. Have you, like me, fallen into the habit of finding fault with things around you? Have you become critical instead of thankful?

Or, like me, have you gotten so swept up in your to-do list that you forget to enjoy the thing right in front of you?

“Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.”
― Jim Elliot

We get so focused on our plans for the future, or so bogged down in reliving — or regretting — the past that we let these things kill our zest for life. At least, I know I do. So easily, I take my mind off God’s goodness in the present in exchange for worrying over things I either cannot change or can’t know yet.

“I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be in my mouth.” – Psalm 34:1, CEB

I pray that this becomes my reflex — that I will fix my eyes so much, so constantly upon my Savior that praise is always bubbling up inside me. I’m tired of missing out on the good things He has placed all around me. Today, I pray for my eyes to be wide, for my heart to be ready to soak up the wonder.

Are you ready to be made young again?



“Taste and see how good the Lord is!

    The one who takes refuge in him is truly happy!
You who are the Lord’s holy ones, honor him,
    because those who honor him don’t lack a thing.
Even strong young lions go without and get hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”

– Psalm 34:8-10, CEB –

Growing-Up Grace

“We are puzzled and bewildered whenever we see suffering in this world….

Amazing grace is no longer amazing to us.”

— R.C. Sproul —

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Is it growing up to suddenly carry the hurt? Growing pain to suddenly begin knowing the pain? Does being an adult mean that I lose the mercifully given dream-glaze of childhood?

And why does it feel like this growing-upness has settled down thick on my soul?

Why is it that never before has the burden been so suffocating?

My strong-enough, wide-enough capabilities are now like narrow, powerless shoulders under a crushing yoke.

And yet I breathe. Oxygen sucks in bitter-sweet. Why can I still breathe in this pain-smoke that is smothering those to whom my heart clings, every brother and sister of them? How can the pain reach and wrench without laying even one cold, numb talon on me?

Is it growing up to suddenly feel the travail, to sense the birth-pangs that writhe this world?

How can I rejoice in Life when darkness is all I see?

By all means, I should praise God for the sunshine.

What if there isn’t any?

“Any man can sing in the day. When the cup is full, man draws inspiration from it…he is skillful who sings when there is not a ray of light to read by—who sings from his heart…O Thou chief musician, let us not remain songless because affliction is upon us, but tune Thou our lips the melody of thanksgiving.”

– Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, Oct. 19th, Evening –

And yet, my throat burns songless. How can I sing past the ache-knot?

Today a friend calls and says it is good new and bad news. My heart immediately stills, that heart drop-out that shoots up a prayer without words. O God, help me know what to say. Help her. Help us breathe.

She says it’s not her, it’s a friend. A tumor, she says. A word shapes in my head—cancer. I wish with a numb heart that it’s not so.

I lay on the couch, phone cradled to my chin, held close as I wish I could hold my friend. A wish to tell her its okay, it will all be fine.

She pours out the story, of all the pain she’s surrounded with. She’s drowning in it—the frustration of why. Why my friends? Why now? Why all at once?

God, why?

And then my sweet friend confesses she’s tired of praying? Is it, after all, doing any good?

So I push away my own sense of all the world-crumblings near and clench my heart around her words. She’s weary in the battle.

So I’ll go in for her. O God, hear me.

She’s panting, aching for friends’ pain that she can’t push prayers through.

Hold on, I want to say. He’s there. Just keep praying.

The line soon clicked empty and as I returned the phone to its charger I knew I couldn’t solve her pain.

But I could pray. I remembered lines that could keep me breathing in and out. Ann Voskamp, in her poetic, arresting voice, wrote about her hope, and now I mull over it again:

“I wonder too…if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see.

To see through to God.

That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave.”

– Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p. 22 –

In her blog, this dear sister wrote,

“Grace is not soft or trite—Grace is what saves and grace is what transforms. Grace isn’t the weakness of a Christian—grace is the completeness of a Christian. Grace isn’t ever a paltry thing—Grace is always the very power of God….The power of God to save and to stand, to give and forgive, to breathe and believe, to laugh and love and wring the last little bit of living out of all the days under the sky. Grace is what we need more than the very air or water; grace is what is necessary for life: it’s His very grace that needs to be sufficient today, it is His very grace that makes today sustainable.”

We have our hands on something that can rock a moaning world. We have to believe it. We have to possess it. We have to live it.

And then, we give it away. Think this, sisters: We were not meant to hoard grace.

“All the paths of the Lord are loving and faithful” (Psalm 25:10). I have pondered this verse lately and have found that it feeds my spirit. All does not mean “all—except the paths I am walking in now,” or “nearly all—except this especially difficult and painful path.” All must mean all. So your path with its unexplained sorrow or turmoil, and mine with its sharp flints and briers—and both our paths, with their unexplained perplexity, their sheer mystery—they are His paths, on which he will show himself loving and faithful. Nothing else; nothing less.”

– Amy Carmichael –

I’m not sure why I didn’t see it before, in John 11. Martha, grieving, devoted Martha, trusts Jesus through that body and soul-tearing event called death that snatched her brother away. Can you hear her hoarse, trusting whisper?

“Even now I know that whatever you ask your Father he will give it to you.”

What I so often gloss over, miss in the pace of reading and living, is the glory of the next words.

Martha says, “I know he will be raised in the resurrection in the last day.”

But then, glorious consummation of thousands of years of hope and longing and death-cries—Jesus must have looked at her with a beautiful Kingliness in His eyes.

“I am the Resurrection and the Life.”

My soul, why do you ever stop wondering? Not wallowing in the death, but wondering in the Life? Why do you ever tire of hearing and glorying in this?

My Savior IS Life. I don’t have to fear anything. I don’t have to  hesitate when He calls, wonder when He speaks.

In His Life, I have life.

“What grace is mine that He who dwells in endless light
Called through the night to find my distant soul
And from his scars poured mercy that would plead for me
That I might live and in his name be known

What grace is mine to know His breath alive in me
Beneath his wings my wakened soul may soar
All fear can flee for death’s dark night is overcome
My Saviour lives and reigns forevermore

So I will go wherever He is calling me
I lose my life to find my life in Him
I give my all to gain the hope that never dies
I bow my heart, take up my cross and follow Him.”

– “What Grace Is Mine,” by Keith and Kristyn Getty –

Let us press on in the dark, because the night is far spent, and the day is at hand. The Light has arisen in our hearts.

We aren’t meant to be the victims of cruel fate. We are meant to shine in darkness, to keep emitting the light of grace.

Because His Grace is ours for living.

“Shouldn’t we suppose that many of our most painful ordeals will look quite different a million years from now, as we recall them on the New Earth? What if one day we discover that God has wasted nothing in our life on Earth? What if we see that every agony was part of giving birth to an eternal joy?”

— Randy Alcorn —

With always-love, Shelbie