Sunday, January 30, 2011

Experiencing the Unavoidable

Oh life, how quickly it darts by, leaving me standing here to think about how old I feel.

This week, my alma mater, Moody Bible Institute, is celebrating its 125th anniversary of existence. All those years ago in 1886, D.L. Moody prayed about an institution that started small, but now equips people from all across the globe for ministry.

I don't really want to tout its greatness, because it's just another place of learning. But this anniversary does make me think back to a time when I was a student within its walls, thinking I would never make it to graduation. After all, it was such a long way off back then.

Those years were so easy, and yet so hard. It was easy to live, to love, to get into trouble and to make mistakes. It was hard to keep up with the course load, to not ditch studying for friends, to remember to keep my own faith alive. I grew up, experienced life and changed so much, I barely recognize the person I was all those years ago when I first enrolled.

I can't believe now that this May will mark the third year that has passed since my graduation. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I'm not the carefree college student anymore. Oh adulthood, weren't you supposed to wait a few more years to strike?

Now I have the slightly scary pleasure of watching younger people suddenly becoming those carefree college kids. I keep finding myself thinking, "You're in high school now?" Or, "How did he get to be a teenager?" (Namely, my brother who recently turned 13.)

My brother is probably my most consistent reminder that I'm not the kid I sometimes feel like. He was adopted when I was 12 and in seventh grade, a year I remember so well and a time I loved so much. Life was so fresh and new, every feeling was amplified a million times over because most of them had never been felt before. It was an awkward time, but so exciting as well.

Now my brother is in seventh grade, a not-so-subtle reminder that the time of his adoption is in the past, significantly. And I'm no longer the slightly awkward, nerdy pre-teen struggling to make sense of raging hormones. Thank goodness, I suppose?

Sometimes getting to the point of being "grown up" (not necessarily acting that way, just being there) isn't as great as we once thought it would be. Sure, we trade in childhood naivete for grown-up common sense, but sometimes I wish I didn't know everything I knew now. Some of life's experiences, I could've lived without.

Now I look at the kids around me, and sort of wish I could spare them that "Welcome to the real world!" slap in the face. That they could be spared from some of the events and circumstances that come with "growing up." Then reality sets in, and I must remind myself that that's impossible. You'd have to hold them prisoner in an empty room for their entire lives, which really isn't an option.

So my conclusion is, growing up and experiencing life is unavoidable. An obvious conclusion to make, no doubt, but one that should remind us to live in the present. There's nothing we can ever do to change the circumstances around us that we can't control, including time and its rather rapid passage. This is yet another element of life that must be accepted with grace and dignity. And that which can be controlled (our own thoughts and actions), should be done so with love and compassion.

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