I have decided that I don't act very much like a grownup. I have a husband, a house, and kids of my own now, but I do not always feel very mature. I sort of thought as I grew up that the over-reactions and emotional outbursts of my teenage years would mellow. I sort of thought that adult friendships are rational and living in the adult world is less dramatic- more even-tempered. That I would graduate from this:
Or at least I would stop crying and complaining so much. (Those are both pix of my daughter, by the way.)
Then I got a little older and I had a sneaking suspicion that everyone around me was quite mature, but I was a bit slow to catch on to the whole thing. Stupid facebook- I would find myself following what other friends were doing with each other together and I would feel left out. Jealous. In my family, I always feel like I'm the first one to complain about something or say, "boy that really hurt my feelings." (Apparently my feelings are something of a pansy because it seems they get bothered quite frequently.) And then within the church where I am supposed to be interacting with an abundance of loving, God following adults...I find myself sometimes still dealing with bitterness, anger, envy, and pride.
And then I read verses like this one:
Ephesians 4: 29-32 [New International Version (NIV)]
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Oh boy. So it turns out I should not be feeling those things- in fact, even if I have a legitimate reason to be upset with someone I'm supposed to forgive and be compassionate- like Christ. No pressure.
I have really struggled with what to do with this- because if you feel like you are an immature and selfish person in a sea of mature people...who apparently have left all "bitterness, rage and anger" behind them- then you think the logical conclusion is that you just need to get your act together, get over your stinking issues, and move on. I would read verses just like those in Ephesians and think that struggling with any of those feelings was unnatural for a Christian- that maturity in Christ somehow meant eventually evolving beyond struggling with those things. Maybe I wasn't doing something quite right if I weekly or daily failed to "rid" myself of so many of those issues.
So then I don't want to talk about my struggles with people- I don't want to admit that I have such awful awful thoughts and problems in my heart when I claim to follow God. But here is another verse:
James 5:16 [New International Version (NIV)]
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Do you know what I have found as I've confessed some of my ugliest issues and struggles? I have found that people can relate. Other Christians are struggling with the exact same thing, or have struggled with it in the past and are there to support and not judge me. Somehow just by talking about things I realize that my issues seem to have less of a grip on me. I have learned that perhaps maturity as adults is relative- and that it doesn't mean I will no longer struggle with relationships, love, and all things Biblical.
The Bible speaks repeatedly about being a body- a community- spurring one another on to love and good works- challenging each other- praying for each other- where do I get the idea that I don't fit in until I fix myself? Turns out I can't fit into the body of Christ unless I am willing to serve others...and be vulnerable enough to be helped and served. And I am truly blessed to find that I have friends who DO love and care enough for me to sit by my side in spite of all my ugly. That is seriously Christ's love in the tangible bodies of friends. Amazing.