When I was around 19, I wanted to get new tires for my VW Scirocco (yes, that was a car). Now granted, I didn’t need new tires, but I wanted something flashier and somehow, I thought tires would do it. I mentally developed the reasons for my perceived need, and I called my Dad to present my request. I went through a litany of ideas:
· winter is coming (safety)
· how responsible I was (I’m such a great person I deserve it).
· It would save money because it would prevent me from getting in an accident (I’m responsible)
After my diatribe, I sat back waiting for my Father to praise my reasoning and with enthusiasm proclaim that he was going to buy me new tires, for many reasons but mostly because I was such an outstanding son. But that is not what happened.
In a very calm and even kind tone he said, “What are you going to do about that?”
Very quickly I responded almost without thinking, “I’m trying to get YOU to do something about it!” Continuing with his tone he said, “I’m not buying you new tires. If you want new tires, you can work some extra hours”.
I was floored. I quickly got off the phone and I was irritated that I did not get what I so clearly thought was needed. But he knew an important truth that I was still years away from fully understanding.
Maturity only happens through responsibility.
Here is another way to look at it. What if I said to you, “I really need to eat right and get in better shape so I will need you to come over every morning and make sure I get out of bed and workout and you will need to go grocery shopping for me because I tend to make bad decisions? “At some point in my homily, I hope you would interrupt me and say, “Um, Jeff that is your responsibility not mine. Maturity is hard. By design it’s not an easy path. You cannot “give” someone maturity wrapped with a bow. It’s developed over time and comes from making both great and terrible decisions. It deepens empathy and cultivates wisdom. Maturity is a key part of having purpose in life because it’s earned inch by inch, not given in a huge chunk from someone else.
Sometimes we want maturity without taking the path that creates it. We desire someone to give us something that we can only cultivate through perseverance and hard decisions. My Dad saying no to me about the tires was one of many times that he told me no, knowing that saying yes, although making me happy in the moment, would damage my sense of responsibility and ultimately deter me from the possibility of maturity.
Here are a few questions to ponder:
§ Think of something that you expect others to do that you could learn to do yourself.
§ What is something you need to say no to in your life that would provide the opportunity for maturity in someone else? (When you do something for someone that they are capable of doing, you rob them of the opportunity to grow in that area)
§ What is an area of your life where you would like to experience more maturity?
Most importantly, what are the decisions you will make to get there?