I’ve been in a pretty nostalgic mindset lately.
I’m sure that’s not too out of the ordinary, especially considering where I am right now, which is my hometown that I’ve spent all my time since I was a little girl. I have about twenty years of solid memories here, from learning to swim at three with my little orange floaties and my Dad, to graduating from high(home)school at eighteen and crying my eyes out outside Barnes n Nobles after my first good-and-proper heart break a year later. There are a lot of co-ops, and nights at the fairgrounds and unfortunate days at drivers ed, and evenings at the beach with the most special people in my world that are preserved all around town, accessible at a moments notice, kept in tact by the fact that all the same songs and smells exist that punctuated those moments however many years ago.
Some days I don’t feel much older than sixteen-year-old Stephanie, just starting community college and working at my first job. Honestly. I’ll still walk into a room and feel like I need an adult to help me do/say/get whatever it is that I’m looking for. Other times I see teenagers coming and I’m just like:
I actually went back on Facebook (because I’ve thankfully/woefully chronicled all of my unfortunate teenage years) and I came upon this photo, which was taken by Judith while she, Fogey and I were at Home Depot midway through one of our forever long days at Edison:
Suddenly I remember all the emotions and concerns and excitements that oozed out of my young, Pollyanna self during those fateful mid 2000s years and I couldn’t feel further away from the little girl sitting on that flowery throne.
I’m pretty sure if anyone could be persuaded that Never land was real and Peter Pan was waiting for them in that place between sleep and awake… it would be me. I mourned, sincerely with many salty, deeply felt tears that I’d never wake up to find him waiting to take me away to a place of constant adventure and where the impossible happened everyday. I’m pretty sure I was still mourning that reality well into my teens.
Growing up is always viewed as this very bittersweet, rite of passage that no one can escape. I realize that I’m writing now as a twenty-three year old woman, inside of a sixteen year old girl, and that someday both will feel to be equally distant and naïve standings, but today, I write full of thankfulness to be well on my way down the path of no return, this whole thing we call ‘growing up’.
I was so apologetic when I was younger. I knew all the things to say in regards to my faith, but almost no life experience to back it up and I felt how hollow it was whenever I was trying to ‘convince’ someone that I was telling the truth. I bent my body and hid under clothes too large for me in order to apologize for my womanly body, like a good “chaste” Christian girl is supposed to. I wasn’t sure how to handle myself when people asked me to drink, and I hated how uncomfortable everyone would get or try to make me. I wasn’t cool because I didn’t like Hollister or Victoria’s Secret, and I read books I didn’t understand in order to fit in with the intellectuals I wanted to be like. I made myself look bad on purpose, with unflattering haircuts and almost no make up because I wanted to show everyone how I wasn’t a shallow teenager and because I wanted to avoid boys who were just ‘trying to get one thing’. I wanted to do well in school, and I enjoyed it, and boys only talked to me to ask if my younger sister was single.
While I miss my untainted optimism and the rose-colored glasses with which I viewed the world, I like what growing up has done in me.
See, there’s this thing about time and experience and heartbreak and triumph and all the things that are rolled into unique little packages, handed to us as part of our stories. While we’re all busy growing up, we’re also growing down, deep in our beliefs and passions. We’re growing out, spreading in our influence and abilities. We’re increasing our momentum towards the fullest versions of ourselves.
I still haven’t arrived.
I imagine I’ll be spewing variations of that as long as I live, but I like this place of “not arriving” much better than my last.
I like myself now. I know what I like to wear, and what I don’t like to drink. I know what movies I enjoy watching, but I can still respect post apocalyptic films as something well done, even though I don’t like them. I read because I want to, and I can blend into most environments I find myself in. I guard my days off as time to be alone, because I need that to be a kind person the rest of the week. I don’t eat bread anymore, but not because I think I’m fat—because I think I’m sensitive to gluten or something and I’d rather feel good than hurt my body. I don’t need eyeliner to feel pretty, but I can do a pretty killer cat eye when I need to. I can talk Francis Chan and Francis Schaeffer, but at the end of the day, I’m disinterested in theology if it’s just talk, because I know what it’s like to know Jesus and be changed by him, and no other substitutes, no matter how academically sexy they appear to be, will ever truly interest me again. I still climb trees and feel the most alive with a breeze on my face and music in my ears. I look for discomfort in order to grow, while still being constantly in the place called home:
“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
Colossians 2:6 – 7
And so, my life is in a state of overflowing. For weeks now I’ve had this full, bursting feeling that I can’t quite name, and I wake up with gratefulness in my heart. Why shouldn’t I? Jesus is my home, and he is always and ever with me—all the other confidences are little bonuses that I get to enjoy now because I don’t need them.
This is probably one of my most obnoxious posts, but I am fully confident that me being at peace with who I am is a Jesus gift, and I love that. What’s the point of abundant life if it means constant dissatisfaction? Jesus strikes again, hitting all the major issues and is proved to be enough.
So, I’m pretty much enjoying that.