Growing Up & the End of Revelation
I was talking with some teammates the other day about growing up. It’s been far more difficult — and far better — than I expected. As a child, I assumed that maturity was a threshold of sorts, and then I was somewhat disappointed and confounded as I got older to discover that it’s a slow (and often painful) process — not a magical transformation. Andrew Peterson hit the nail on the head:
After all these years,
I would’ve thought that all my fears were laid to rest
But I still get scared
And I thought that all my struggles would be victories by now
But I confess
That the mess is there. (After All These Years)
I found that adults often don’t feel particular competent and that nearly everyone has days when they want to crawl into a blanket fort and let the real adults deal with the problems of the world.
Yet… although I certainly share in a nostalgic longing to return to the naïveté of childhood at times, I find myself increasingly grateful that I get to keep changing and growing. Being an adult sounded pretty boring when I was a kid, yet I’ve found it to be a wild and crazy and beautiful adventure.
To quote Doctor Who,
When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… grow up. Get a job. Get married. Have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better. (Love & Monsters)
Or, to quote Marilynne Robinson,
Adulthood is a wonderful thing, and brief. You must be sure to enjoy it while it lasts. (Gilead)
Teaching has taught me something similar. There was a period when I felt really awful at teaching, and that period seemed interminable while I was in it, and I was pretty sure for a while that even if it wasn’t going to outright kill me, it was going to always be such a heavy stress that I’d better find something else to do with myself. (The story of how that changed is a funny one and a case study in getting what you ask for.) Yet now one of my favorite things about teaching is that there is always, always room to keep growing in all sorts of aspects. I’ve become a better teacher, yet I am eons from being bored because I’ve perfected teaching.
Quite a few things in my life, now that I think of it, have felt that way. Culture shock, particularly when I moved back to America from my first year of teaching in China. Moving to new places where I knew next to no one. Starting new jobs. “Yet in all these things,” as Tim Jones reminded me once when I was crying over the feeling of simply not being able to handle life, “God works.”
As Derek Webb sang,
It looks like You’re killing me, but You’re saving my life. (What is Not Love)
Or as Jon Foreman put it,
All along, thought I was learning how to take
How to bend, not how to break
How to live, not how to cry
Really I’ve been learning how to die. (Learning How to Die)
So I read the end of Revelation with great eagerness and anticipation, confident that the end of the book is only the beginning of a story greater and more glorious than anything I can now dream of, child that I still am.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face.
Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.
(1 Cor 13:12)
And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before. (The Last Battle)
The older I get, and the more I see of both the beauty and the brokenness of this world, the more deeply I rejoice in and long for the coming future.
You never let go, You never let go
You led me by the hand into a land of green and gold
And You never let go, You never let go
Your love endures forever, wherever I go
After all these years —
That’s all I know. (After All These Years)
I dream of the true Summerlands, of everlasting ages under the rule of the true King who is both just and merciful, and my heart sings.