Last night I was thinking about the scene in the movie Courageous where the three cops and Javier were having barbecue on the main character’s back yard. In the scene the main character asks the others when was the first time they felt that they were a man. The other cops looked dumbfounded by the question asking how they were supposed to know. They gave answers based on landmarks in life, but revealed that no one had ever told them that they had made it. Javier smiled when it was his turn to answer and said that he felt like a man for the first time when his father told him. He said that one time when he was a seventeen his father was going on a work trip and when he said goodbye to his family the father told Javier that he thought of him as a man and asked him to take care of the family.
In the episode of True Life: I’m working my way out of poverty, one of the stories told was of this young man who had a juvenile record, but had straightened his act, finished high school, married his high school sweetheart, and got a job at a restaurant. He was living in poverty, but was doing what he could to support his family and work his way out of poverty. Near the end of the program he went to visit his parents at Christmas time and went to take a walk with his father. In the middle of the walk, the father said that he was proud of the progress of his son, implying that he had made it as a man.
The classic Bible example is Paul and Timothy. The 2nd Book of Timothy is a Book that is Paul confirming Timothy’s becoming the person that he was meant to be in the Lord: This is your past, this is your present, and this will be your future. The dynamic that Timothy had with Paul really defined Timothy and called out the man that he was meant to be, if we quote the movie Courageous. The message was: “You made it! Keep going.”
These stories show the profound positive effect that someone saying “you have made it” has on a human being. The awesome thing about these stories is that this statement wasn’t given because of a biological or societal milestone that was reached, but because of individual actions and embodiment of what it was to be an adult.
So many times, adult or more experienced figures in many fields make the mistake to state that someone is x just for getting to the point of bearing the tittle. You probably heard on your 13th birthday “You are a teenager now”. Your first day of college you hear people say that you are a university student. You graduate college and are told “you are x now. You have a profession now.” When I heard these type of statements, two things came to mind:
- What qualifications do you have for you to say that and be right?
- This is just plain BS!
I know better than to think that I am something just because I got to the point of carrying the tittle and someone stating that I have a tittle. This is a stupid idea. Yet I can’t deny the effect of someone stating you made it… if the more mature person uses it wisely.
The fact is that you don’t feel like anything until you are walking in it and you are feeling the changes that entail leaving a mentality and identity behind to adopt a higher identity. You feel like a teenager, a university student, a professional, an adult, a Christian, and an adult Christian because you embody the identity. This takes time.
I didn’t feel like a teenager till I was 14-15 years old. I didn’t feel like an undergraduate student until I had taken a few courses and embodied what it meant to be an undergraduate student. I didn’t feel like a graduate student until I embodied the identity of a graduate student. I didn’t feel like a Christian until I was a few years in and I started to make the ideals and the lifestyle of a Christian my own. I didn’t feel like an adult, especially in Christianity, until I started to incorporate it into my identity leaving my childhood self and my young Christian nature behind.
What if the statement “you arrived at this stage, which means you are x now” is really an indicator that it’s time to make the transition from who you are now to who you are set to be? If this were the case, then the statement could have validity. Yet what is being said isn’t consistent with what it wants to say. Why, then, can humanity not say things how they really are and not the way that society has stated that it is right to say?
In the post becoming an adult in Christ, I expressed my thoughts on having my spiritual adulthood, and by extension my personal adulthood, confirmed by God. The thing about this event is that it wasn’t done when I turned 18 or 21 or when I started a new chapter in my life. It happened when I was started to prove that I could be an adult. I can say that I started to transition to Christian adulthood on October 2011, more than one month after turning 21. What happened was that a big kid from my church challenged me to a friendly fight after church rehearsal, which I engaged in. That was on the surface.
Under the surface, in my mind, this event was the first time that I was viewed as an adult by someone that was younger than me. This big kid was seeking a healthy exchange of strength and thought that I was a good choice to meet that need. I recognized what was happening and that I should engage because it would benefit this big kid in the long run (even though I was uncomfortable when I took a swing at this person). I knew that I was the adult, which meant that I was the one that was going to be responsible for keeping the balance between the times that this big kid hit me and how many times I hit this person (I used a ratio of four to one for that moment). I felt the direct guidance from God in a way that had never happened. God would remind me of my experience when I challenged adults to a friendly fight and what I should and shouldn’t do to carry the adult role in that moment. It was an externally sensory experience but an internal thinking and intuitive one. When the fight ended, about 30-45 min. later, the big kid was satisfied and I fulfilled my role effectively. This event was the start of what later became a mentorship dynamic.
In the year following this night, I had to deal with the big kid’s immaturity. I really didn’t want to deal with it, but God would tell me to not run away. In time, my patience payed off. The big kid became an adolescent and matured to the point that the mentorship dynamic evolved for the better.
In December 2012, the youth group had a camp-like spiritual retreat. I was in charge of transporting music and sound system and of how everything sounded in the services. I drove to a retreat for the first time. I felt God’s weight of adult responsibility for the first time. I was on “the other camp” now. It felt good, the highly anticipated transition. I was also scared of how real it was. But it felt that it was a activity based adulthood.
About a month after I had the confirmation of my adult Christian status by God. The effects of this was discussed in a previous post. What I want to add is that even though my transition to adulthood started at a time when it is normally stated that I am an adult, God didn’t say “you are an adult” until I had proven that I was. This is how it should be, in my humble opinion. It is this type of experience that has a profound effect in human existence.
In my analysis of this topic, I see that two things should happen:
- You should call out the transition in another person, and
- You should confirm that the other person made the transition successfully.
If done right, a human can develop mentally, socially and spiritually healthy.