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.
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."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 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."