Monday, June 30, 2008

Can I Grow Up Now?

How do you know you’re an adult? Is it an age? A job? A salary? An apartment? A student loan bill? A significant other? A child?
I use to think being an adult was an age. I thought once I turned 18 that would mean instant respect. And, that was partially true. I moved away from home, lived on my own, and learned a new city. Professors saw me as an adult, some of my friends started to see me as an adult, and I lived in a community where we all thought we were adults…even if we didn’t always act like them. Then I thought being 20 meant I was an adult. I thought, “Good, now no one can play the teenager card.” Then, I turned 21 and could legally do more things that only “adults” could get away with. But now, at 22 with a college degree, I think being an adult is about more than an age. It can’t just be an age because everyone has a different opinion on how age determines maturity. My Dad always joked that I wouldn’t be an adult to him until I was 25. Co-workers think I’m just a baby at 22. People who get married at 21 obviously feel they are adults (I hope…). A number doesn’t determine anything. It has nothing to do with a skill level, knowledge, life experiences, or relationships.
What constitutes an adult is the simple day to day things. It is being independent. I think an adult is determined by how much of your life you control - not in a control-freak way - but in a responsible for the day to day stuff way. It is about having your own bills to pay and paying them on time. It means owning a car. It is living in your own apartment, one you pay the rent for. It is having a student loan with your name on it. It is a full-time job, which starts by having a job at all. It is learning to trust your gut and make your own decisions. And yes, it is some part age, but only because with age comes experience, independence, mistakes, and lessons learns.
But then again, tonight on the phone my mom and I pointed out that I consider a microwave and fast food an appropriate meal, and things like Amish Friendship bread that takes 10 days to be ready to bake too much for me. One could argue that an adult would simply wait patiently for the bread and bake it. An adult should not be afraid of the oven or of time to wait.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Little Department That Could

A co-worker’s husband passed away unexpectedly this morning. I had never met him and don’t know the co-worker very well, but it is tragic none the less. This is the third death in my department in the past six months (the same amount of time I’ve worked there); the first two were staff members who were also professors for our program. Three deaths in a short amount of time and in such a small department (there are probably about 25 employees) is not very common and extremely sad. I find myself getting emotional for the people in pain, but hide my tears because it feels strange that I should be sad for people I don’t even know. As much as these unexpected deaths could make people’s hearts harden and cause bitterness and anger to circle around the office, my co-workers are continually empathetic, kind, and ever faithful. It is amazing to see what the Lord can do in those who mourn. My respect grows for the people in my department with each person’s passing because they continue to cling to God more and more rather than push Him away. This group of individuals has given me hope about Christians as a collective group again, a hope that was completely taken away while I was a student at APU. Students just didn’t get it. Yet, as a staff member, I am seeing people whose faith I admire everyday and it has been an encouraging and growing experience for me. For this I am thankful and feel blessed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mi Casa Es Su Casa

I’ve learned something new about myself lately. I am beginning to enjoy the gift of hospitality. I am usually the type of person who gets a little controlling and stressed when people stay at my place for longer than one night. Moving to college helped this problem because living with roommates forced me to let go of my issues of control, cleanliness, and the need for privacy. I learned in college how much fun it can be to have people live with you. I like the chaos it provides because of so many different schedules, I like the challenging and enlightening conversations that happen in the kitchen while everyone is making dinner, and I like the late night trips for fast food because all the roommates stayed up so late giggling that they are hungry again.

My adjustment to living with roommates has now begun a love of inviting people over to stay. I have really begun to see what an act of service it is to help a person out who needs a place for a while. There is nothing worse than having no where to go for a night and feeling like a burden once you get there. Hospitality is such an easy way to serve, and honestly, for me, it has been selfish because the people who have been staying at my apartment lately have been blessing my socks off! I find myself selfishly trying to spend as much time as possible with these people and trying to convince them to stay longer!

The difficult part about having a revolving door apartment is how sad I get when people leave. I get lonely when roommates and guests no longer inhabit my apartment and find myself unsure of what I did before them. I love the long conversations and having someone to make plans with every night. I love figuring out shower schedules and blowing up air mattresses. I love getting to know new interesting and kind people. It has been hard for the past two months because my roomies and I have been in constant transition with people staying at our place. I get blah with so much change that comes with new people and new opportunities for my roommates that cause them to leave, either permanently or for a just a night. All of the comings and goings are making me lonely and dependent, which I don’t like because I am usually craving privacy and going a little crazy from constantly being with people. I love that I am enjoying living with people, but the lack of consistency is creating some major emotional stress for me!