The “Ideal” Age

When I was a kid, I hated playing house. I’d play ponies, puppies, abandoned orphan children—anything but house. My friends, of course, loved this game, so rather than play by myself (lame), I would painfully, begrudgingly, resignedly agree to play house… But only if I could be the dog. (In retrospect, this might explain my lack of childhood friends). To my seven-year-old self, being a grown up seemed scary, strange, and let’s be honest, kind of boring. Why in the world would I willingly pretend to be an adult? No thanks. So for the next several years, I continued to play the dog and developed an impressively realistic bark.

Fortunately, though, my friends (the ones who chose to stick around) had mercy on me and occasionally let us play other imaginary games. Sometimes we were animals, other times we played with Barbies, but most of the time, we pretended to be older than we were. We’d choose a different name, make up our life story, and then pick the perfect age, an age when we’d be older, wiser, and have it all figured out. And more often than not, that ideal age was…. 12. At 12, we would be automatically awesome, be WAY smarter than our parents, and finally be able to write in perfect cursive.

(Feel free to laugh.)

Recently, I turned 24 years old—exactly double the “ideal age.” And I have yet to become “automatically awesome,” I still call my parents multiple times each week  day, and my cursive is abysmal.  Needless to say, things didn’t turn out quite as my seven-year-old self expected. But if I’ve learned anything in my twenty-four years, it’s that life is like that. Expectations rarely match reality. Sometimes things turn out better, sometimes worse. But they always work out for the best—for our best. Let me explain.

Romans 8:28 has been one of my favorite Bible verses for the last several years. It says, “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Even if you aren’t a Christian, you’ve probably heard some variation of this. Phrases like, “It’s all good,” or “It will get better,” or “Everything will be alright” point to this idea. If we can just keep our chins up and continue pressing on, life will be happy and everything will make sense. As little orphan Annie sang, the sun will come out tomorrow.

But what about when that doesn’t happen? What do we do when life stays hard, when we’re disappointed for the umpteenth time, and our dreams have yet to come true? What if that longed-for “tomorrow” never comes? You’ve lost your bottom dollar, and it’s still raining. What then?

Has God forgotten you? Broken His promises? Left you out to dry? If He’s still here and in control, what is He doing? And why in the world isn’t He “working for [your] good”?

He still is: “For those whom He knew, He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” (Romans 8:29). Becoming more like Jesus—that’s the best thing for us. And that’s exactly what God is doing.

You see, everything we experience—the good, the bad and the mediocrely in-between—all of that is meant to draw us closer to our Savior and make us more like Him. That includes the conflict with your coworker, the traffic you’re stuck in, the bills you pay, and the heartache you experience. The big and the small, the happy and the sad, the stuff that doesn’t make any sense. Everything in your life and in any given day has been specifically designed, intricately crafted, and perfectly timed to draw you into a closer relationship with God. Nothing is too hard for Him to handle, and nothing is too small for Him to use. Our job is simple: to let Him do His. When we cooperate in this process and we’re open to His working, things go much more smoothly for us. And the coolest thing happens: our perspectives start to match His.

Switchfoot is one of my all-time favorite bands. In fact, during my sophomore year of college, I saw them in concert twice in one week. (Unintentionally… but that’s another story). On their Beautiful Letdown album, they have a song which is serendipitously titled “Twenty-Four.” And it just so happens to deal directly with this post:

Twenty four oceans
Twenty four skies
Twenty four failures
Twenty four tries
Twenty four finds me
In twenty-fourth place
Twenty four drop outs
At the end of the day
Life is not what I thought it was
Twenty four hours ago

Still I’m singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
And I’m not who I thought I was twenty four hours ago
Still I’m singing Spirit take me up in arms with You

[…]

Oh, oh I am the second man now
And You’re raising the dead in me

Written by lead singer Jon Forman when he was (you guessed it!) 24 years old, these lyrics explain how I felt at 12 and how we all feel at some point. Life doesn’t turn out as we hoped, but God always knows what He’s doing. As we surrender to Him, He changes us from the inside out. And even when we can’t see it or feel it, we can trust that He is making us new.

God is always good, always faithful, and always working on your behalf, whether you’re 12, 24, or anywhere beyond or in between.

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2 thoughts on “The “Ideal” Age

  1. How true Steffi. Things may not go the way we wish at the time, but usually for the best in the end. Such a good writer, Papa’s girl. Love from Omi

  2. Love it Steffi!!! Hope you had a great birthday 🙂 Switchfoot is my all time favorite band. They are from San Diego and coincidentally Jon Forman went to my college for a few years. But this is what I did for my birthday. I saw Jon Forman in San Diego then I saw him again a few days later in Denver. It was amazing!! 24 is a great song and it just makes me realize that even people like Jon Foreman feel low at times.
    He was playing for an organization called “To Write Love On Her Arms” don’t know if you’ve heard of it but they are all about helping people through stuff like depression.
    In Denver he sang a song of his called Your Love is Strong which begins with the Lord’s Prayer in his own words it was sweet.
    Anyways love the post. Love the ways our God works even when it seems not in our benefit He always knows what’s best. Also my ideal age has been 25 for sometime now, for many reasons, but the main one being I can finally rent a car when I go visit people. Happy 24th!! May God continue to use you to bring others closer to Him. Love you girl!!

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