Freshman Reflections #3

On Growing Up

By Alicia Pautienus
I have a lot of embarrassing childhood stories. The kind term that my mother uses to describe mini-me is “precocious.” The term I would use is “butt.”

One of the primary examples that gets passed around is when I went shoe shopping with my father at oh, age four or five? While my father was turned around finding shoes, a man--- my father describes him as a rather giant gentleman— bent down in front of me to pick up a box.
Do I remember what was crossing my mind at that moment? No. But the way my father tells it, he heard a whack and spun around, only to notice I’d spanked this stranger as this giant man was turning around, thinking that my dad had done the deed. Dad, of course, frantically scolds me and rushes us out of the store as fast as his two legs can carry us.

My mom always feels rather triumphant at this story. Finally, I’d embarrassed my dad instead of her.  

I had no fear, no sense of shame, and no respect for authority. While God would later put this boldness to good use, at the time it was more problematic than anything else. I had a hard time taking instructions, to put it lightly.  Honestly, I needed to be put on a kiddie leash, and my mom has openly admitted that if I hadn’t been her first child, she might have done so.

Life is a touch different at age nineteen than it was at age five. Namely, the lack of authority. That’s a clumsy term for it--- I’m surrounded my authorities, but as an ‘adultish’ (adultling? Adult padawan?), more often than not they take on the form of advisors rather than commanders. Even my parents have started saying things like, “You’re getting older now, you’re entering a strange period where we’re slowly transferring from being your parents to your friends.”
At nineteen, sometimes I want my parenting parents back (and naptimes, too). When there are decisions that are more grey than black or white, or decisions that are between two perfectly good options. When I’m planning ahead and trying to figure out an efficient way to accomplish a task, or when I’m stuck in friend drama and lost in the mess. When I simply want the proximity of walking down the stairs to find someone to talk to. My parents give me advice, but they no longer lord over me.

That’s exclusively God’s job now. Growing up, I heard this phrase a lot: “the goal of parenting is to slowly switch your reliance from on your parents to your reliance on God.” It typically came after I’d either screwed up pretty bad or if I’d done something that was particularly God-fearing. Self-reliance was never the goal for my parents (explains why they had no problem with me choosing the English major).

Relying on God is hard. Like, have you seen the old testament? Jonah? Job? How about Hosea? Now, He’s God. Everything has a purpose and is a part of the plan. He knows what He’s doing, and we can trust that. But from our limited perspective, things are also just whack sometimes. We don’t always get answers to the ‘whys’ either.

Sometimes He tells us to do things that feel weird. Sometimes, He packs lots of spiritual happenings in the same week as a crunch week, and what are you going to do, prioritize God’s priorities or prioritize schoolwork? There’s a right answer there, but it’s a stressful one. God wants us to trust Him with our future, but the right-here-right-now needs can get overwhelming all the same.

With people, God can get even more unpredictable. Sometimes He straight up tells us to walk into fires and trust Him with the flames. Sometimes He wants us to stick out situations that we’d rather flee from and trust Him with the healing. When we get to see the ‘whys’ of these situations, they blow us away, but that’s not a guarantee. God just asks us to trust Him and to love others as He loved us.

The truth is, in many ways I’m still that toddler that I once was. I know little to nothing about the world compared to my Lord, yet I want to take control and do things my way. I get angry when my plans are altered. I get upset when I ask “why” and the answer is “because I said so.”
God, thankfully, is patient. He’s a good father who loves his daughter, even when she’s being a bit precocious. He’s quick to remind me of everything that makes me trust him: all the promises He’s made, all the spiritual mountaintops and valleys, all the needs physical and otherwise that He’s provided for.

God is good. Obeying sometimes comes with a cost, but it always comes with a blessing. He’s a firm and fertile foundation, a refuge and a shield. His commands are protective, his calls are perfect. He is wise in all His dealings. Trusting Him may be difficult at points, but it is well worth the outcome even when we don’t get to see it.

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