One of my favorite movies growing up was Hook (RIP Robin Williams and Bob Hoskins. You will be missed). I wanted to be one of the Lost Boys and fight alongside The Pan against Hook and his gang of pirates. I loved the adventure, the fighting, and as I grew older, I came to love the message: Life doesn’t end when you grow up, it’s really only beginning. I often think back on the message, and for a long time, I expected adulthood to this new and grand adventure waiting over the horizon for me.
This turned out to be both true and false.
I’m writing this during one of my few breaks during the school week (I maybe have one free period a week). My brain is running on fumes, my patience has run dry, and my day is not even half over. I’ve been up since 5:15 AM, and I don’t plan on leaving school until 7 PM because I have lesson plans due next week, and I would rather spend my weekend focusing on work for graduate school than work for both teaching and graduate school. I’ve lost 9 pounds from stress, my sleep cycles are completely out of whack, and I’m learning lessons ahead of my students because I’m teaching subjects that I’m inexperienced in. And I have a second job on the weekends.
Welcome to adulthood, AKA, the “land of responsibility”.
Growing up, I thought adulthood was one of those things where you went to work, and when you came home the day was pretty much done and you could relax a little bit. When I reached middle and high school, I understood that things like paying bills and yard work were part of the deal. When I started college, adulthood felt like the promise land, a place with no school and no homework, with things like your own house, a wife, and cool married friends who got together on weekends to cook out. Now, I see it for what it truly is: work. Tedious, stressful, overwhelming work. If responsibility is the defining characteristic of adulthood, then you might as well consider me an old man, because right now I have more than enough to go around.
I have felt overwhelmed since the day I started teaching high school around a month ago. It feels like every day there is something new coming at me that I have to do. New paperwork to fill out, new lesson plans to do, new responsibilities in the school (like running a lab, and having no idea what I’m doing), and basically learning everything on the fly. Add graduate school classes on top of that, and you can imagine the level of stress I’m dealing with.
Life right now feels like trying to run a cross-country marathon while attempting to balance an egg on a spoon. What I’ve struggled with is this: God wants this for me right now.
At first, I was angry at him for it. The first few weeks of this madness had me wanting to grab God by the shoulders and beg him to stop. I was resentful towards him, and I was starting to find myself resenting others. All these young hip people who live in vans, ride bikes everywhere, travel the world, and generally look awesome at everything they do (I blame the illusion of Instagram) made me bitter. There was a time where I really struggled with all of this, and there are days that I still do.
But one day I was frustratingly reading through 2nd Corinthians and came across chapter 12, where Paul talks about his “thorn in the flesh”. Although we never will really know what this “thorn” was, I feel like I understand his pleadings with God.
8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10 ESV)
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” It was as if God had just hit me with a sledgehammer. I have felt weak, overwhelmed, insufficient, and frustrated. I was angry with God for the positions he was putting me in, and then I realized this is exactly where he wanted me.
Right now, God wants my life to be uncomfortable so that he can be further glorified. How exactly this is going to happen, I have no idea, because I’m running on fumes. God can do whatever he wants, so maybe he’s working through me and I’m just too exhausted to see it. Who knows? My biggest prayer in life at this moment is to just trust and be OK with whatever he’s doing, and slowly but surely, it’s starting to happen.
Something I’m trying to embrace is the beauty in hard work, and I know God is pleased when we work hard like we are working for him. This is what I’m trying to do in my life right now.
So what is adulthood? Honestly, I don’t know. It’s different for everyone. For me right now, it’s discomfort.
But God wants me here, so I wouldn’t change it for anything.