Thursday, July 10, 2014

Saying Good-bye to Peter Pan

I have a confession to make: I get upset, tired, and angry from time to time.

The other day I had a heated discussion with my mom (ok, it was more of a one-sided rant) with me going on and on and on about how terribly miserable I am and how difficult my life is. (I'm sorry to admit that I say stuff like that.)

Then my mom said three words that no child in the history of mankind has EVER wanted to hear from a parent: "Then move out."

I froze. "What?"

"Move out." She went on to say that she didn't exactly mean "Pack your things and get out of this house right now if you don't like it here. Good luck making it on your own." She didn't mean that at all.

She meant that I am pitifully dependent on my family...for pretty much everything.

I'm seventeen, and my habitat has been about the same as it has been since I was ten years old. My parents drive me everywhere, because I do not have a license. I can't go anywhere without having a family meeting and looking at our entire schedule. I can never say, "Hey, I'm going out of the house for a little while," unless I'm going to walk the dog, go for a run, or ride my the neighborhood.

I hardly ever go anywhere by myself because I usually go to events that my parents have planned for the whole family. Probably the only places that I go voluntarily are the gym, the library, school, church, and youth group. But then, I can't go to any of those places (except the library) without someone driving me (and then a family member usually attends those places with me). I'm at home a lot because I haven't been getting a driver's license so I can go to community college or get a job so I can make friends with classmates and co-workers.

This is my life right now, and the truth is: I've never really been bothered by it until now. I've always been comfortable following my family around like a dog on a leash, being driven everywhere, never having to worry about leaving the house.

My entire life is the definition of DEPENDENCE when my growth as a teenager demands that I find INDEPENDENCE. This doesn't mean rebelling against my parents, it doesn't mean "looking out for #1," or deciding that I'm right and everyone else is wrong.

It means deciding how I want to make an impact in the world, making decisions for myself, learning my own life lessons, and taking steps toward surviving as an individual under God...leaving childhood behind and becoming an adult.

Friends, this is a terrifying mission to accept.

Do you know how birds learn to fly? Young birds spend the beginning of their lives being fed by their mother and never leaving the nest. All they know is that tiny confined space consisting entirely of little sticks, cotton, and leaves. All they know is life with the other birds in their family. When the bird is ready to fly, do you know what happens?

It's quite fascinating: the mother starts to push her child out of the nest. And I don't mean a little shove to say, "If you want, you can go." No! I mean, the mother flaps her wings uncontrollably, kicking and pushing that little bird out of that nest. That's not saying "Hey, if you want, go ahead." That is saying, "Go. Go. Go now. GO! Fly, it's time. Right now. Ready, go!!!"

You know how that little bird responds at first, "What are you doing? Stop! It's too high! I can't! Please, I don't want to go. I'm scared!" Then finally, the mother gives one last push, and this story can have one of two endings: 1) either the bird decides not to fly and falls to the ground, hopeless, and in a lot of cases, dead; or 2) the bird starts to flap its wings and flies away--it soars in the air, leaving its dependence on its family behind, and discovering independence.

The process of independence is a little different for human beings, because leaving the nest and growing up doesn't traditionally happen within a few minutes. One thing I do know now is that I have to stop refusing to grow up, like Peter Pan. It's a great thing to accept adulthood--after all, most of my life will be spent as an adult--that is, if I decide to leave childhood behind. I think growing up will be a great adventure--an adventure that Peter Pan was too afraid to experience.

It will probably be another year or two before I leave my parents' house. I still have to graduate high school, I still need to get a driver's license, I still need to get a job, and find an ambition with which to glorify God (some people call that pursuing a career, but I think an ambition is more than that [this topic may be another blog post in and of itself]).

Now is the time where I begin taking the steps to accepting the challenge of growing up. It's the time where God writes the final pages of this first chapter of my life. Now is when He helps me figure out what's next.

Yes, the words "move on," "move out," "time to grow up," and "leave the nest" are terrifying.

On the other hand, I hear these strong words from God and the people who are ready to support me and cheer me on as I accept the daring challenge of grasping independence:

"You are ready. It's time to fly."

 "For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
--1 Corinthians 13:9-13