Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Journey Into Adulthood

Photo Copyright Sarah Fusaro 2014
Some days I have to remind myself that I am an adult. Sometimes when I’m writing a rent check, looking at investments, and picking out a dentist I feel like I’m “playing house”.  As birthdays have come and gone and life experiences have occurred, I find myself an adult. But what makes a person an adult? Is there a switch that turns on one day and all of a sudden a person is able to function independently?

Part of the Merriam-Webster definition of an adult is the following,
": fully grown and developed
: mature and sensible : not childish:" 
This definition comes with a big call. I believe that growth and development should progress over one's lifetime. But even viewing the "criteria" of being "mature and sensible" are large goals to strive for.
We live in a society that gives us the title of adult at 18 years old. I remember turning 18-and being surprised that it didn’t feel a lot different than 16. I was technically an “adult” by the United States standards. I could vote-but I had been active in politics for a while and saw voting as just another piece of being involved in the political process. I was still living at home, going to college, working, and pursuing further educational goals. I was seeking to understand what love really looks like and trying to embrace personal responsibility. However, I still found myself heavily pressured and seeking outside advice and help for a lot of important decisions.

I remember turning 20. At the time I was bombarded with the task of nursing school and felt a twinge of sadness as I realized my teen years were over and I had now lived 2 decades. I had experienced solid relationships, had traveled to different places in the United States and the world, had reached some educational goals, and knew how to save money, but I still think that at this time I was transitioning to adulthood. 
 So after these experiences and a few more birthdays-I am here to tell you there was no magic switch of teen to adult. Rather I’ve found that this “transition” of becoming adult is more than just paying bills and accomplishing goals. Perhaps, what makes a person an “adult” is the realization of personal priorities in life and thus ordering thoughts, time, and resources around those things.  
The concreteness and reality of this for me lies in what I spend most of my thoughts, money, and time on. This is where the “defining process” of adulthood comes in. Having been given this life and these circumstances-what am I doing? Looking at what I dwell on and what I spend my time and resources on-what are my priorities?
The moment I remember feeling like an adult was when I made a decision that I believed was right, though it hurt and I didn’t have a person presently standing behind me in that choice. However, I find the vastness of upholding priorities rolls over into the decisions that seem both small and big in life. What is done with money that is left over at the end of the month? In relationships, are pursuits for self-happiness or the good of others?   
The heart of this pursuit is fueled by love and supported by peace; as I seek to live an ordered life, this encourages me,

“38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

"31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:31-33

This love, this truth inspires me to try and order my life around putting God first, others second, and everything else in life third. 

The decisions we make in life show what is important to us. Adults-as you pen checks, plan your Saturday night, contemplate educational and career decisions-think about what the priorities you desire to order your life around and see if your decisions support those priorities.

For those still making the transition to adulthood or preparing others for that switch-consider encouraging the development of strong principles and clear priorities.

Your life decisions say something about what is important to you.--

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