Disclaimer: It may be true that what I write is somehow inspired by the time I’ve spend with the UJ 20-something crowd in the last few months. Marilyn and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them! But these words are simply tipped, unfiltered, out of my head; any resemblance to any actual person’s life circumstances is purely coincidental, I promise.
Merriam-Webster’s website, under the section titled Words We’re Watching, gives this not-quite definition of the recently-invented verb, adulting:
To adult is to behave like an adult, to do the things that adults regularly have to do. This includes things like having a job and living independently, sure, but also such mundanities as taking clothes to the dry cleaners (and remembering to pick them up), making and keeping dental appointments, getting your car registered, doing yardwork.
I’m closely associated with someone – I’ll not say who! – trying to figure out what it means to be an adult. Then, to actually pull it off and be one. It’s a path marked with challenges: car maintenance, taxes, decision-making with real consequences, romance; that’s just the tip of the iceberg. And the primary responsibility for the outcomes falls squarely upon the shoulders of the adult decision-maker. It can be terrifying!
The delay or avoidance of adulting – whatever the cause – is tantamount to remaining dependent. Dependence is about shifting responsibility, and ultimately blame, onto somebody else, particularly when things go wrong. This is of course perfectly reasonable for children, who cannot always be expected to accept responsibility for their own actions. Though even with children we work hard to teach them to take responsibility, early and commensurate to their age and abilities. But for a grown up, refusal – or inability – to take responsibility is often the very antithesis of adulting.
The only way, really, to become an adult is to give it a try. Try your hand at looking after yourself, at decision-making, earning money or perhaps at romance. Take a risk – cautiously and with good friends, family or supports nearby, mind you – but go ahead and give it a go. Experiment. Expect some failures along with successes. Part of the process of adulting is learning to take calculated risks. Calculated Risks looks so tame in print but make no mistake: calculated risks are still risks. They carry with them the possibility of failure just like all risks.
This person I previously mentioned – the one who’s working out what it means to be an adult – was on the phone the other day. This wannabe adult was wanting to do all sorts of things that sound pretty risky and we offered a parental-cautious reminder to be careful. Watch out where you travel, who you’re with, do you think you’ll have enough money? All that sort of stuff. The young adult reminded us that we took all sorts of risks when we were in our 20s and that we seemed to survive – thrive, even – while proving to ourselves we could do it. I’m pretty sure the young wannabe adult will also do well and succeed at adulting.
If adulting boils down to taking responsibility for my own choices and actions, then it also includes taking responsibility for others (ageing parents? Children of your own?). And in my humble opinion, adulting in the Kingdom of God involves taking responsibility for each other and to do something about the Great Commission. What if, instead of focusing on our church service, our friends and preferences, our small concerns, we took Jesus seriously when he said
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of
The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
Teaching them to observe all that I commanded you
And remember; I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Adulting for Jesus! Take a risk. Do it deliberately and without apology. And see how it goes.