Childish Things Away
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. – 1 Corinthians 13:11
He woke up early this morning. Barely sleeping through the night, because the excitement was just too much to allow him to. His big brother told him how it would be. The games. Learning to read and write. Field trips. It all sounds like fun. Big fun. And Sam is ready for it.
His father flips the light switch and walks in with a smile on his face. “Time to get up, son.”, he says. Excited, Sam hops out of the bed already dressed. In the middle of the night, he decided to pick out his own clothes, foregoing the outfit his father had already laid out for him. Sam throws his hands up and says, “I’m ready, daddy!”
“So I see. Who picked that out for you?”, asks his father laughing.
“Ohhh, ok. You don’t like the clothes we picked out yesterday?”
Sam thinks, then answers, “No. They make me look like a baby.”
While Sam’s father can appreciate his enthusiasm and attempts to be a big boy, he couldn’t get over the contrasting color scheme – gray church slacks, blue Ninja Turtle T-shirt, and yellow rain boots. He shook his head and said, “You’re excited about school today, huh?” Sam shakes his head ‘yes’ enthusiastically. “That’s good. But today let’s try wearing the clothes that mommy picked out for you. Soon, I will show you how to pick out your own clothes so you can really look like the big boy you’re becoming. Ok?”
Sam changes into his mother-approved outfit then races downstairs for breakfast. He sits his friend, Max in the chair right beside him at the kitchen table and waits for his dad to finish breakfast. Max, Sam’s stuffed Panda and best friend, never misses a meal. In fact, Max is always with Sam wherever he goes.
“You ready for school today, Max?”, Sam asks. Sam’s father stops stirring the oatmeal and listens to the conversation his son is having with his best friend. He had prepared Sam for everything…everything, but this.
His father takes the oatmeal over to Sam whose little legs are happily swinging back and forth as they dangle from his chair. He sits beside Sam, says grace, then Sam digs in.
“Sam, you know you won’t be able to take Max to school with you today, right?”
Sam stops eating and looks at his mother with confusion and disappointment. “Why not, daddy?”
“Well, son, you have to be able to pay attention to your teacher so you can learn all the new and interesting things she will tell you. And there will be other kids there for you to make friends with and talk to and play with. Don’t you want to get to know your classmates?”
“Yes. But Max wants to learn and play, too.”
“Oh, I’m sure he does. And you can tell him all about it when you come home from school. You can be his teacher.”
Sam drops his spoon into his bowl, folds his arms, and pouts.
“Don’t be mad, son. It’ll be alright.”
“But, I want Max to come to school with me. Please, dad?”
“I’m sorry. He can’t go with you.”, Sam’s father says as she strokes his hair. “I need you to be a big boy for me. Finish your oatmeal. It’s time to go.”
Sam keeps his head down eating his oatmeal, his favorite breakfast, a lot slower than normal. His father knows his son is stalling. “Ok time to go, Sam.” Dad takes up the dishes while Sam grabs Max and drags himself towards the door to grab his backpack and coat. He peeks around the corner to make sure no one sees him as he stuffs Max into the bag. “Shhh. You gotta be quiet, ok?”
Sam’s father grabs his coat and keys. “Ready?”
Along the way, Sam’s dad looks into the rear view mirror to check on his to make sure he is okay with leaving Max behind. Strangely, Sam seems to be ok. Dad wonders what that’s about, but doesn’t give it much more thought.
They pull up to the school and Sam tries to open his door before the car even stops. Thank God for child-proof locks. “Sam! Close the door!” Sam quickly complies. “In a hurry?”, his father asks. Sam smiles.
His father gets out of the car and comes over to open the door for Sam. Sam grabs his backpack, throws it on his back and takes off running. His father notices a furry arm sticking out of the side of the bag. “Really, Sam?”, he says to himself. “Sam, don’t run. Wait for me.”
Sam stops. His father walks over to him and kneels down. “Sam, where’s Max?”
“Are you telling me the truth right now?”
Sam hangs his head.
“Give me the bag.”
Sam reluctantly hands over the bag. His father unzips it and takes Max out of the bag. “Sam, we talked about this. Max can’t go to school with you.”
“Please, dad? He’ll be quiet. I promise.”
His father laughs, “I have no doubts about that. Sam, listen to me. You’re a big boy now. And you have to start doing big boy things. You won’t like it now, but soon you will understand why you can’t take Max to school with you. Trust me. It’s all part of growing up and becoming a man. Now, I want you to go inside, pay attention in class, and have fun today. Ok?”
Sam sadly shakes his head yes.
“I’ll take care of Max. He’ll be waiting for you when you get home.”, he says. The bell rings. “Can I get a hug?”
Sam hugs his father. Dad holds him tight for a moment, closes his eyes, and says a silent prayer over his son. “I gotta go, dad.”
He fights back tears to say, “Ok, son. Have fun and be good.”
“I will. Bye, Max.” He waves at Max, turns and walks inside without looking back.
One day, Sam will leave Max behind for good. He will sit in his room one last time looking around at all that had been familiar to him. He will see Max sitting on the dresser and he will smile remembering the lesson his father taught him on his first day of school. He will grab his bags and walk towards the door, look at Max and say, “Goodbye, Max. Keep an eye on things for me while I’m gone, ok?” He will hear his father call from downstairs, “Sam, come on, son. We have to stop and get a couple more things before we drop you off at the dorm.”
“I’m coming.”, he’ll say. Then, he’ll walk through the door no longer a boy. He’ll be a man.
Growing means shedding the old while reaching for the new. If we are to become better people for ourselves and for the world, we must replace old things and habits with newer and better ones. We must mature. This is the way of nature. Trees shed their leaves to make way for newer ones. Our bodies naturally outgrow old clothing. Children lose teeth in order to grow newer ones. Growth is a necessary and unfailing part of the cycle of life.
It can be hard to get rid of those things that we cherish but obviously outgrown. Imagine wearing the same clothes at 40 that you wore when you were 10. You’d feel rather ridiculous wouldn’t you? (Now, some people may be able to pull it off, but not the average person.) Or imagine if Sam continued to take Max with him everywhere he went well into his adult years. He probably would not have come to understand the importance of making new friends or to even get a girlfriend (unless she’s the sort of girl that’s into guys who carry stuffed animals around with them. And if she is…well, hey….who am I to judge. Sure, I’ll laugh…but not judge.)
How many old clothes and shoes do you have in your closet right now? How many old papers, electronics, cars, or things that are obviously of no use do you still have around the house? How many family members who still treat you like you were a child do you still interact with? How many old friends who still act like they did when you were children do you still hang with? Why do you still hold on to these people and things? How much longer will you hold on to them? It’s hard to let these things and people go because we like to hold on to the familiar. With people, we feel some sort of obligation to them….especially family. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, if they are still stuck in the past while you’re trying to grow and mature, then why hold on? This is not to say that you should just drop people out of your life, but it is to say that you should examine what is helping you grow and what is not and if it isn’t helping, then do something about it.
But, many of us won’t. We won’t because we dread change and don’t want too much of it. We fight against change and growth believing them to be bad things. But, everything changes. All things MUST change. It is inevitable. Resistance against change is futile.
It is not only things and people that we must outgrow. We must also outgrow false ideas and beliefs. Just as man had to outgrow the belief that the Earth was flat or you outgrew the belief that the shadows cast on your wall at night were monsters, so must we outgrow many other untruths. Outgrowing false ideas and beliefs is what maturity is all about. Maturity is about having the courage to accept and make necessary changes in life. It is the courage to put childish things away and accept responsibility for our own lives.
What are childish things? It is the hope and belief in fantasy. It is irresponsibility. It is playing with life and expecting everything to be all fun and games. It is expecting everything to be handed to you and to go your way and whining about it when it doesn’t happen that way. It is being spoiled. It is continuing to behave and approach life as an adult the same as you did as a child.
So, how do we overcome childishness? How do we let go of the fear of change? It is by acceptance that we overcome. Always look for ways to change and grow. Accept that growth and change are necessary and inevitable. Acceptance makes change easier and gives us the courage to face the changes that come with growth. We must sift the True from the false by challenging our beliefs and fantasies. Seek out the Truth. But it isn’t enough to just know the Truth. We must accept it. And once accepted, we must live by and according to it. This is what it means to be mature….accepting responsibility for your own life.
Accept what is true and real. Accept that change must come. Accept responsibility for your own life. Don’t run from it. Run towards it. Don’t cling to old things, ideas, or beliefs. Always reach toward higher. Seek the Truth and cling only to the Truth. It is the only thing that provides any real security in Life. Indeed, it is the way, the truth, and the life. Acceptance of Truth is what will give us the courage to change. And it is our only hope of putting childish things away.
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