My kids are at the ages where they dream and talk big about what they imagine grown up life to be like. One dreams of working at Disney as a Storm Trooper. The other of being a fireman, a yard worker, a construction worker, or whatever else happens to be the occupation of the minute.
They imagine a life grown up with unrestrained freedom and innumerable possibilities. I remember being that way too. Where adulthood was nearly as magical a destination as Disney itself. I don’t know why, but every child starts there. Kids are born into a world where they default into thinking and believing the world is good…and so are the people in it. The world is safe…and so are the people in it. The world is secure…and so are the people in it. And this allows them to dream impossibly large dreams in their good, safe and secure confines. To them, adulthood is just childhood with more potential.
But at some point along the way, it changes. I remember when I walked in front of the swing my older sister was on, getting kicked in the mouth and being taken to the hospital for stitches. I remember losing my first grandfather. I remember watching friends’ parents divorce, young people get sick, and conversations way to early about alleged loss of innocence.
At some point along the way, the world no longer feels good, safe or secure. And you grow up. Suddenly it’s all more complicated than you thought it would be or should be. There’s less dreaming and more just getting through it. And if it isn’t as good, safe and secure as you hoped, what does moving forward, in light of that, even look like?
You wonder if maybe Darwin was right. Life really is all about survival of the fittest, emphasis on survival, adulthood becoming about surviving the loss of childhood expectations and preconceived notions.
But what if it doesn’t stay that way?
I have heard people talk before about the reason why they follow Jesus. Why, in spite of all the reasons not to, people stay with the Church, continue to pledge allegiance to a guy who lived 2,000 years ago and accomplished a few impressive things while living, but accomplished the ultimate feat in conquering death.
And for me, when it comes to why Jesus continues to be the answer, and why Christianity continues to be my true North, it’s because of what’s possible—even when it seems unlikely. It’s that any of us can, and do, get to the place where survival is no longer enough.
See, it would make perfect sense, if the older we got, the more fearful we became, because the world appears to be coming apart at the seams. Or if the older we got, the more insecure we felt, because we realize how delicate a balance it all seems to be hanging in. Or if the older we got, the more single-minded we became, because with so much that can go wrong, who has the energy to do anything, but just survive the days? It would make sense to do this, and no one would blame us.
But Christianity teaches me, it’s possible to be childlike again. Christianity teaches me that survival is inadequate. And that for anyone who wakes up tired of simply surviving, bored with insecurity and frustrated by fear, who is dissatisfied with the trajectory cynical adulthood takes them, who makes an effort to go back to childhood dreaming, and boundless imaginings, these people are moving towards God—and behaving like Him.
And that’s the Gospel. That’s redemption. When we don’t let the realization of how broken it all is keep us from working with God to make beauty from it. When we don’t let our fear of how fragile it all is, keep us from running break-neck speed towards the hurting places and the hurting people. When we don’t let the uncertainty of it all, keep us from love. Above all things, love.
If there was no God, if there was no resurrection, if there was no bigger movement in reconciling Earth towards Jesus Himself, than we would simply survive adulthood until one day, we stopped, and our story came to an end.
But there is a God, and there is a resurrection, and there is a generous and gracious crusade of Jesus making right the world, and for that reason, we aren’t satisfied with simply surviving. We are desperate for new. For restoration. For revitalization. Not to be child-ish again, with an unknowing innocence, but to be child-like recapturing wonder and hope and possibilities despite the brokenness, fear and insecurity we know.
That’s as good a reason as any for why Jesus remains the best bet. For me. Because survival is not enough. Will never be enough. But goodness, and beauty, restoration and rescue that goes beyond survival, that looks the wrongness of the world in the eye and defies it with redemption and meaning and purpose is enough. And it’s why I’ll keep moving towards it and fighting for it at all costs. For myself, but also for two little boys who will one day soon come to their own realization of the brokenness of the world, and will need a reminder, that we don’t simply live reactively to injustices. We live proactively in search of the things we can do, and God is already doing to bring beauty from it—in spite of it all.