After seven decades of walking on this earth, I assumed I had heard and experienced it all. Then, several days ago, I had a significant throwback in time.
I don't know exactly what I was doing, but I was exercising my right to do some good juvenile pranking. Nothing is more exciting than reaching into my past for an old-time prank. There are so many that I can't remember which one it was.
At the end of my juvenile prank, The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage turned around, stared at me, and said very frankly, "Are you ever going to grow up?"
When I heard that, I froze in my tracks. Suddenly I was not hearing my wife's voice but rather my mother's. I have never been so rattled before in my life.
When I was young and got into trouble, my mother would always say, "Son, when are you going to grow up?"
I usually laughed at her because growing up was not part of my agenda at that time.
Looking back over my life, I wonder if growing up is that important? And, what does it mean to grow up?
With all the trouble and chaos in our world today, there is so much sadness and so very little to cure it. Then, I go to a playground area and see children running around, laughing, and having a great time. Their activity at the playground has nothing to do with what's happening in the world.
Watching them, I get very envious.
To a certain extent, I have "grown-up," whatever that means. But thinking about it, does growing up ever come to a finish line? Do I have to live all my life trying to "grow up?"
We were talking with a couple the other day, and the wife said something to the effect that her father was going through his second childhood. So I looked at her and said quite seriously, "What's wrong with that?" To which she could not give me a good answer.
Maybe it's a good idea to enter into your Second Childhood. After all, you have the experience of going through your First Childhood so the Second Childhood can be entered with a great deal of expertise. That sure makes sense to me.
As I pondered this, I couldn't help but ask myself, "Is there a Third Childhood?” If there is, it must be the most fantastic time in a person's life.
Throughout my First Childhood, my mother nagged me about growing up as if it were my personal responsibility. Is that not the job of mothers and fathers?
Thinking along this line, I often wonder what my mother had in mind when she asked me if I would ever grow up. She never gave me any instructions along this line. She just nagged me to grow up. I think she should have given me a few instructions along this line, and maybe I would have grown up according to her specifications.
When a person grows up, what does that really mean? And when does that take place?
It didn't matter what kind of trouble I was in when I was young; my mother always had the same advice about growing up. During several of those moments of trouble, I did not understand how growing up would have anything to do with the trouble I was in at the time.
Looking back, I think my mother told me to grow up because she had no other solution for the trouble I was in. After all, there's trouble of all kinds when you're young, and I'm not sure growing up would ever make any difference at all. Sometimes trouble was worth it. Just don’t tell my wife.
The thing that concerns me is that now I am officially grown-up, The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage finds an occasion to ask me when I will grow up. So what is she seeing that I don't see?
When my mother told me to grow up, it was in a completely different environment. But, when my wife tells me to grow up, I'm not quite sure where I'm at because I thought I had already grown up.
As I was thinking about this, I couldn't help but remember our friend's father who was entering his second childhood, and was wondering if maybe my wife thinks I'm entering my second childhood. So how can you tell if you are entering a second childhood? Because if I'm going into a second childhood, I want to be well prepared to experience it to the utmost. I don’t want to miss a single prank. If I'm going to my second childhood, I want people around me to notice that I have yet to grow up.
My opinion is that growing up may not be the accomplishment that many people think. Before I was "grown-up," I had the time of my life with no worries whatsoever. I sure do miss those good old days before I grew up.
Thinking about this I was reminded of the spiritual aspect of this growing up. Peter writes about it and says, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).
As a Christian my challenge is not to relive the past but to grow daily in such a way as Christ is glorified in our experience.
[Dr. James L. Snyder lives in Ocala, FL with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Telephone 1-352-216-3025, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, website www.jamessnyderministries.com.]