“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” The Apostle Paul, I Corinthians 13.11
“Young enough to know the right car to drive, old enough not to put rims on it.” Jay-Z, “Thirtysomething”
By most standards, I’ve lived a privileged life. Not an extravagant life, but no less a privileged one. As such, I’m suspicious of myself if I register anything that sounds like a complaint–when I feel like I’m so perpetually stared down by the blessings of God. I never want to lose perspective on that.
But if I’ve ever not had perspective on anything, it’s not that I see the glass as half-empty. We did this animal personality test with our staff, and then all happily claimed our representative counterparts. Mine, unsurprisingly, is an otter–big heart, high spirited, fundamentally optimistic. I don’t know if that really ever changes much at all or if it should. I only know that I’m not a young otter anymore–that the mostly blind sort of optimism and naive cheeriness that has marked the first half of my life is probably not making it into the second. I used to think if you lost your naivety you’d lost everything, but I’m re-thinking that. What does it mean to be a seasoned otter, a weathered otter, an otter with a few callouses? I’m not old, but I’ve often said I’ve been aged in dog years by the church. And like Jay-Z, well if nothing else I’m “old enough.”
I’m old enough to know unexplainable tragedy strikes without mercy to very good people, as was brought home to me last week at a funeral for a 7-year old girl named Molly we’d all been praying for.
I’m old enough to know what it’s like to have thought I heard God say somethings that either I didn’t really hear Him say, or otherwise feel like I got strung along.
I’m old enough not to trust people who’ve never been heartbroken.
I’m old enough not to believe everything always works out right in the end, no matter what.
I’m old enough not to offer platitudes or words at all to people around me that are suffering, only my presence (and hopefully, God’s).
I’m old enough to believe that loving any person deeply will inevitably lead to a crucifixion in the end.
I’m old enough to think that anybody who claims to know exactly where they’re going or even how they got to where they are is probably wrong.
I’m old enough not to take everything I hear at face value, even and perhaps especially if I was the one to say it.
I’m old enough to understand Hebrews 11.39, “These all died in faith, without having received the promises and having welcomed them from a distance.”
Someone asked a professor of mine once what to do with the verse in the Psalms where David said he had never seen the righteous forsaken or His seed begging for bread, given that there are documented times where God’s people had to beg for bread. His response was simple.
He said that when David wrote that line, he just wasn’t yet old enough.