“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
This was an actual exchange that happened for me a few decades ago, yet in my adulthood. It was a somewhat sarcastically asked question met with what for me was a sincere answer.
Familial circumstances demanded that I grow up at an early age. My father was diagnosed with early onset dementia when I was still in elementary school. In junior high I added care for me father, my sister, the house to my school and church responsibilities. Though I did not know enough to frame it thusly at the time, childhood abruptly ended, and I was propelled into some very grown-up activities at an age when other kids were playing and mostly carefree.
I truly am not complaining. I am actually grateful.
There was a period of time in my early adulthood that I thought I would reclaim my lost youth and refuse to live as a grown up regardless the consequences. If someone would have asked what I wanted to be I would have declared “anything but grown up.”
That did not last for long.
There will likely always be a part of me that is playful and even adventurous. Freedom is without a doubt my most cherished value. The scripturally referenced childlikeness is alive and well inside of me. I am committed to never losing my sense of awe and wonder
And I have become more grown up than ever.
What I am referring to when I speak of being grown up is a mature sense of being a responsible part of the whole. To be a grown up is to know that there are important things than personal preference. It is to know and to embrace that every choice that is made has consequences that affect others as well as yourself. It is to live in an active sense that life is not about just the individual. To be grown up is to live consciously, wakefully, responsively. It is to be autonomous, yet also deeply connected.
To be the grown up in the room is not always easy and it is often uncomfortable. There is a wounded child in all of us. That wounded child gets triggered by the wounded child in others. It goes into defense when it is frightened and provoked. The ways in which it reacts are age appropriate to the wounding. It is not uncommon to watch biologically adult people in full out tantrum when not getting their way. They may use very adult language (though that is questionable) but the behaviors and attitudes are things that they once employed on the playground.
Wounded children wound other children.
Bullied children bully others.
Growing up means doing the mature work of healing and integrating these early wounds. It means reparenting ourselves in very real and practical ways. It means being an adult authority when the internal kid wants to throw a reactive tantrum. It means making an unequitable decision that regardless of what anyone does around us we are going to choose to be the grown up in every situation.
I find this to be especially important in regard to my spiritual expression.
We are in what I believe to be one of if not the most crucial places in the evolution of the collective consciousness. We are literally in a “do or die” scenario. While we often hear the ideal that “we are all in this together” there is not enough evidence of that to make it of comfort. We need more grown ups in the rooms. More people to place the whole before the wants of the self. More people to consider that every choice affects all who live and breathe.
My spirituality is not about getting what I want. I do not turn Source into an ATM or a Cosmic concierge. My spirituality is about letting myself be literally grown UP. It is about allowing myself to be spiraled forward. It is about letting myself and my consciousness by used on behalf of something greater than myself. I live for what I may contribute, not for what I think I want to achieve.
This has never felt truer than during the time of Covid.
This time of pandemic has provided for me a container in which to look deeply into the further most aspects of my consciousness. It has confronted my preferences and busted my limits. I daily have felt forced to choose between what I want to do, and what I know I am called to do. I have examined my choices and excavated my underlying motivations. I have been expanded beyond my personal desires in the name of the collective betterment.
I have been deeply and irrevocably changed.
My questions have changed in terms of what drives me. I am not governed by what I feel like doing. I am not propelled by what I think I want. There is undeniably less of “me” than there was when this quarantine began. And the result is that I feel like so much more.
I still have work to do for sure. It well may be that I will never be a fully ripened grown up. But I am moving in that direction for sure. I am grounding in what feel like grown up choices that are beneficial to the whole of humanity. I am taking responsibility for the fact that I am still here. I am claiming authority over what happens in here, regardless of what happens out there. I intend to remain steadfast in a deeper Truth that how I show up matters. Whether I react or respond matters. When I go into tantrum or center in a place of stability matters.
Being a grown-up matters.
When enough of us grownups are more interested in what we can give than what we can get the world will change.
When enough of us adults are more interested in the we than the me the tide will rise.
When enough of us respond to the question of what we want to be with a solid and unshakable answer of grown up a quantum shift will occur.
Emotional fluency. Uncompromising integrity. Spiritual maturity. Collective congruency.
Growing up. And grateful to be.