When did you feel “all grown up?”
For most, it is not when they reach a mark on a wall. It is something that indicates they have reached a certain level of maturity. Mine was when I could buy my parents a meal in a restaurant.
Maturity is elusive. Many count candles on a cake, but that’s age. Changing calendars does not provide maturity. A person can show signs of maturity at 30 or 80.
How do you know when you “grow up?”
The apostle Paul remarked in a section about immature actions among Christians said:
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)
A person arrives at a point where he moves from childishness to grown-up thinking. When does that happen? It comes when you can give something up.
What childish things should we “give up?”
Not All Are Like Me
Maturity gives up the idea that everyone is like me. Everyone is distinct with likes and dislikes. The introvert wants to think, and the extrovert likes to talk. Neither is right or wrong.
Some people love a good burger while others are vegetarian. Some love to sit and read quietly for hours. Others want to party with a large group. Some write while others speak.
Many people want to pigeonhole others. Here is the one way that is “right.” Some define spirituality or intelligence, or commitment by whether someone joins in their favorite activity.
Maturity gives people options, not demands.
Not Speaking Your Mind
Maturity brings us to a point where we know not to share every opinion we have. It is a mark of a deep thinker to exercise restraint in sharing all they know rather than indulging the verbal dump.
In the 1990s, a particular politician appeared on talk shows constantly. He made longwinded speeches to others. One of his colleagues said of him, “He shared everything thought he should have kept to himself.”
Today, social media sprees the unending flow of half-formed ideas. Daily rants do little but inflame ire in others. They stir the pot of anger and pique. But the writer enjoys the attention.
You know the mature person in the room by what they don’t say. An unknown source (mistakenly attributed to Lincoln) observed, “it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.”
Or as Cato the Elder observed, “I begin to speak only when I’m certain what I’ll say isn’t better left unsaid.”
Maturity recognizes that a closed mouth is the sign of an open mind.
Not Upset Constantly
When a person matures sufficiently, he can manage his moods.
Every parent has the same bitter experience. It usually comes in a grocery store aisle when a toddler demands his Mommy buy a box of sugar disguised as food. When she says, “no,” the show begins. A child can fall to the floor, kick and scream. They can accuse a parent of “hating” them.
Every person has a bad day or even a bad year. But the person who has developed maturity realizes that he can control himself.
We expect emotional control as we grow older, but many times it never comes. People snap at others and bite their heads off. They become a flamethrower, scorching everyone in the room with their “emotional release.”
One man went off on a tirade and, in the end, said, “I feel so much better.” To which a co-worker replied, “I’m glad you do because we all feel so much worse.”
If you are not feeling well, find an outlet. As Mr. Rogers said in his song, “what do you do with the mad that you feel,” punch a bag or pound on a piano.
The mature person finds the outlet that doesn’t scald other people and keeps his head about him.
Not Focused on the Small Stuff
When a person is young, every minor crisis is the end of the world. The emotionally ripe can keep life in perspective. Not all things are earth-shattering.
One of the great gifts I have received is perspective. When I was younger, everything was a tragedy. Money was tight, cars wouldn’t start, and unexpected ear infections required medical visits. All seemed to signal the apocalypse because I lacked the depth of experience.
The sky never fell. The globe kept spinning, and the sun rose the following day. I stayed out of prison (and the poor house).
I found out that “this too shall pass.”
Denzel Washington said, “you pray for rain, you gotta deal with the mud, too. That’s part of it.”
Take time to take stock. Don’t count the candles on your birthday cake or the crow’s feet at your eyes. Look at your life and ask, “have I grown up yet?”