Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

4.19.2011

Just a Child

My childhood was idyllic, with loving parents, the best books, a new sibling every couple of years, and God, whom I dedicated my life to with an untarnished utter faith at the age of three. I remember the weeks leading up to our Great Move--from three bedroom townhouse with a slough in our backyard to two-story farmhouse with ten acres in our backyard. Lauren and I stayed up late every night--probably about 8:30--making great plans for improvement of the property. We would dig an intricate web of tunnels interconnecting over a vast amount of space, and we would dig rooms and perhaps build a few above-ground forts as well. There was the digging method, the hatch doors, the wall supports, the floor, the decorations, the names, and a host of other pressing details to discuss. There were maps to draw and materials to gather.

And somewhere along the way, we intuitively grasped how impractical this whole plan was, and so we opted for all above-ground forts, and we trotted through the woods every day, finding new animal trails to follow through the brambles. We found, named, developed, and visited beautiful oases. "Camp" was one of the more distant forts, but by far the most developed and one of our favorites. And then there was "Plum Creek," and "Lilac," and "Court," and more I've surely forgotten.

Krystn Palmer Photography

When we tired of hiking through the woods like Lewis and Clark, we would play at our quixotic world--the nation of Aetabigillions, whose universe we entered when once we biked in a figure eight on our driveway (the only slab of cement large enough to allow such a daring feat of bicycle prowess). Riding our brave steeds (aka bikes), we would rid Aetabigillia of her enemies and save the day until dinner was called and we had to ride in a backwards figure eight to get out of the land and satisfy the appetite we had worked up.

I read voraciously, devouring every single Little House book by the time I was eight or so. Biographies, historical fiction, and the Bible were my favorite reading, and I was always immersed in at least one book at all times. To correspond with our reading, Lauren and I would often spend our allotted lunch break typing out the next great novel, first a mystery in the great style of the Bobbsey Twins with us as the main characters, and then a historical fiction with Anna traveling back in time to the age of the Babylonians to meet Daniel.

Through all this, somehow I longed to be an adult. I looked forward to the day when a baby shower invitation specified women only, and I wasn't excluded. I blushed when I had to order off the kids menu (as if everyone didn't already know I was a child), and I beamed when people inevitably guessed my age higher than it really was. Adults had all the fun, I would conclude as I hiked down our ravine (not nearly as deadly as it sounds) to the creek, pulled off my boots, and waded in the achingly cold water.

Those memories seem so far away now. Here I am, balancing my checkbook, scrawling things on every single day of my calendar in a desperate attempt to do and remember it all, voting on school levies and the exciting like, and having just paid taxes for the first time (oh, the exhilarating experience). I'm no longer excluded from social functions, but I am now excluded from little girl tea parties with fluffy pink dresses and crooked pinkies and American Girl dolls patiently watching.
"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
I Corinthians 13:11
My brother comes to me, "When will you play with me?" He asks, drawing out every vowel to the fullest extent of his lungs. As I type out my college assignment like a woman possessed, I have to put him off until the weekend, sadly and longingly.

My books lie in a stack. I keep buying them. I keep checking them out. And I move forward at the rate of one page per week. I'm sure the Great Mud Hill is not very muddy anymore, since its treacherous path is no longer traversed daily by scrambling feet, but I wouldn't know. I haven't taken that path or any other up to "Camp" or "Lilac" in ages.

To be perfectly honest, though, if this is "adulthood," I love it because it is not all taxes and deadlines. For it is because of the sheer joy of teaching young Mozarts that I endure the taxes. It is because of the awe I still have for learning that I subject myself to deadlines. The ability to meet my dear friend who lives an hour away for coffee, to drive to concerts and the library, to run errands for Mama, and to take my siblings out on dates. Ultimately, it is the wonder of waking up each morning and serving an Awesome God.

It is just when I think back fifteen years, and I wonder--can't I have them both? Can adulthood with the responsibility and maturity that God desires in my life and childhood with the purity and simplicity and trust that God desires in my life coexist? God condemns laziness and foolishness, both hallmarks of children. However, He also promotes the fear of God, the fidelity, and the unconditional love that children tend to possess. Neither adulthood nor childhood is a perfected state, but as one who loves the Lord with all her heart, I hope to lasso both into one cohesive whole.
“...Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
Mark 10:14-15
These days, people ask if I'm still in high school. Is it the acne breakout on my chin that makes me look three years younger, or the lack of a bra-baring power suit, or the fact that I'm still living in a town with only a dead-end community college to its name? Nah, I'm sure not. I like to think it's the naïveté in my face and the twinkle in my eye, my inability to resist a good chocolate chip cookie, and my complete faith in my God and Creator.

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

14 comments:

  1. Good post, Mikaela! I remember struggling at one time with wanting the joys and simplicity of childhood, but the freedom and benefits of adulthood. Each season of life has its own unique challenges and adventures. But, I do believe we can remain "young at heart" even as we gain in years. :)
    Good closing paragraph, too.

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  2. I love this post. Sharing your childhood memories reminded me of some of my cherished ones! Your post was very encouraging, because sometimes it can be hard for "new" adults to know exactly what it means to be an adult. Our culture certainly doesn't give us any help, but I thank God for giving me such wonderful parents who help me every step of the way.

    Your sister in Christ,

    Bethany

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  3. My brothers had lots and lots of "forts" in our woods, too! Now the forts are all gone. We have a pretty, big, green backyard now. Oh well! Sweet memories. :)

    Oh, and about looking your age. People never, NEVER guess that I am 28. NEVER. One day, I won't mind. But right now, it's a bit irritating.

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  4. Thanks Ruthie. I tend to get too caught up in "adultish" ways and forget to take time to "smell the roses," as they say, so it was a good exercise to remember all my lovely memories from childhood. ;-)

    Ah, thanks Bethany! You make an excellent point in giving the credit to your parents. My Papa and Mama have been amazing in their gentle guidance and advice as they allow me to greater freedom and responsibility.

    Rebecca--I think forts are a universal desire of children. ;-)

    I suppose the age thing could be worse--I have a friend whom people pegged as 30 when she was twenty. That would be a bit frightening to be suddenly aged a decade! Thanks for commenting and sharing a few of your memories!

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  5. I totally relate to the becoming an adult thing!! I just filed taxes for the first time too, I am constantly returning half-read books to the library, and my calendar is unbelievable. Every time I go out the door I have to have an elaborate plan mapped out of every single second of the outing so that I will make sure to get everything on my list crossed off by the end of the week.
    It's almost like a game. But it gets exhausting, and then I start to feel so OLD and worn out. (at 21!) That's when I go find someone's toddler to watch after church, or break out the crayons with the boys I nanny, or dig in to the Playdoh at Cubbies (Awana)...I love that God has put so many Small Ones into my life, since I don't have any younger siblings to play with like most of my friends do. He knows I need kids. There just is something incredibly special and joy-bringing about children, isn't there?
    I love to think about how much God loves children (well, He made them!), and how Jesus probably held them in His arms and laughed at their sweet inquisitive lispings just like I do. (I really don't think children's behavior has changed too much in the last 2000 years:)

    This week a 3-year-old friend of mine called a cherry stem a "snout," and it pretty much made my day. You can't help but smile.

    Kelsey :o)

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  7. I loved reading your memories of childhood, what a great time of life! No matter the age, I think it is God's desire to keep some of that childhood love for life in our day to day life. It's all about balance!

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  8. Good post (as always), Mikaela, but may I ask an unrelated question?
    (I take refuge in the anonymity of the internet. 0=)
    I very much appreciate the way you girls always give such sweet, individual replies to all your commenters. It warms my heart and it sure is good incentive to comment again! So that, plus your obvious wisdom and scriptural understanding, is why I ask you my question.
    Do you know of any practical tips for keeping Bible-reading from being a duty or a chore? All my life, I've had trouble keeping up with my daily Bible readings. I'd have good spells and such, but then I'd realize I'd gotten "too busy" for it again, and there it was, collecting dust again. =( I know the importance of learning the Bible, and I'm ready to just push through and do it, whether I "like" it or not, and let God teach me what He will. But, there should be more! I'm just wondering if you've learned a secret to finding real joy in the reading of the Scripture.

    Thanks for letting me dump one of my problems on you. =)
    I love you girls, even though I've never met you!

    -Penn


    P.S.
    I hate being "grown up." Sure, there are great things about it, but over all... I preferred being young and "innocent." =)

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  9. Hello Mikaela,
    I have been enjoying reading your blog for awhile now (although this is the first time I've commented) and have really appreciated many of your posts!
    I am an editor for a Christian magazine for young ladies, Daughterhood by Design. Just yesterday, I came across your post written last June titled "A Celestial Hike." In our upcoming issue of Daughterhood by Design, we will be publishing articles and stories on a nature theme, and I thought that "A Celestial Hike" would fit in perfectly. Would you consider allowing us to republish it in Daughterhood by Design magazine? We would, of course, credit you for the article and mention your blog, as well as send you a copy of the issue your article is published in. Please let me know if this is something you would consider. My email is daughterhood@gmail.com. (By the way, I'm sorry to be making this request in your comments section, but I wasn't sure how else to contact you.)
    Whether you are interested in allowing us to republish your article, or not, I'm sure I'll continue to enjoy reading your blog. It is such an encouragement to read the thoughts of other young ladies who are serving Christ!
    -Lacey

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  10. Kelsey--It is so good to hear from you again. I've missed your wonderful comments! Thank you for sharing--it's amazing to me to hear everyone's testimonies here and realize I'm not alone in this transition time! I loved how you mentioned your involvement with children as a blessing from God, and I laughed at the cherry stem story! My eight year old brother (Jonah) just learned what "aka" meant this week, and he has used it in all sorts of hilarious ways! ;-) May God bless you, sister, even during this busy period of your life.

    Belgie--you're welcome!

    Brandy--so glad you enjoyed it. I couldn't agree more. I hope to always hold on to these memories and keep the childlike faith Jesus commended.

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  11. Penn--I'm honored by your love and encouragement, and the fact that you would ask this question of me. First of all, your question reminded me of a few past blog posts:
    All in a Major Key
    and
    Gold Rush Alert

    However, I was also perplexed, because I thought I had written an article addressing just such a topic a while back. I don't think I've found THE secret to finding joy in the Scriptures, but one thing I have found is that the level of joy I find in Scripture is directly related to my level of neediness as I approach that Scripture. Does that make sense?

    I know I've struggled with this, and I'd venture to say nearly every Christian has struggled with this at some point. You have me pondering on a full-blown post where I can satisfactorily address this question--that is, if I can't find that phantom blog post!

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  12. Mikaela,
    Oh, such a prompt answer, too. I appreciate it very much.
    Thanks so much for the links to the past blog posts. Especially "Gold Rush Alert" (Thanks a million, Lauren! That was so good). I know I must've read that one before, but obviously I didn't take it all in. =/ So, I will definitely be printing out the list of ten questions and applying it to my Bible reading. I'm sure that will be a huge help.
    And yes, it does make sense that the joy is related to the neediness. (If by that you mean consciously needy. Of course I'm more needy than I'll ever know, but at times I go to the Scripture feeling like I have everything under control. Not good.)
    I think I need to print these verses off, too:

    “If you seek [wisdom] as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.”

    "The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver."

    I would very much enjoy a full-blown blog post, if you're going to post one. :)
    Thanks again! I'm very grateful for your help and wisdom. God is good.

    -Penn

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  13. Lacey--Thanks so much for "delurking" and introducing yourself! I love meeting new readers. ;-) I am honored by your request--a personal email will be forthcoming. And the comment section is a perfectly fine place to bring such a thing up--especially seeing as how we have no other contact option at this point in time!

    Penn--your humility and gratefulness are clues to me that you are already on the right track. I'm so glad Lauren's post helped you--it really depends on where God has you as to whether something "hits you between the eyes" when you read it or not, so you may not have even been aware of a problem when you read "Gold Rush Alert" the first time. I definitely meant consciously needy--thanks for clarifying. And stay tuned for a blog post on this topic in the next couple of weeks. ;-)

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  14. [hey, I'm here again. Finally.]

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU. And also, thank you. =) =)
    God is blessing me so much through you and your blog. Praise Him!

    I am staying tuned. :)

    -Penn

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