Fourteen, and Growing Older
I haven't yet really read in depth all of the articles that you girls have been writing about growing older/growing up, but since the similar idea has been on my mind, I decided to write one too. Apparently mine is a lot longer, and what I thought would just be a one page musing, became a four page essay. I hope that you'll enjoy these gatherings of my stories and thoughts about growing up. I hope one of the young men on here will write one too, because so far, it seems like just "us girls" type of thing. :)
May God bless you.
In May, at a homeschool convention, I was strolling around my baby sister and exploring the booths with a little friend. I watched the children scurry in and around the booths while their parents observed a Math workbook. I had a blue raspberry lollipop in my mouth. Abeka, BJU…up ahead was my favorite book publishing company, which I will not name. Since I had already visited their booth, I had just meant to walk by, when the elderly vendor attendant representing the company began talking to me. I assumed he knew who I was, since we had acquainted all the previous years of the convention. I started regretting the blue lollipop since I lisped with it and I could just envision my sticky, blue lips. And I don’t know why he decided to ask this… either this was his way of being polite, or he really did not recognize me—I don’t know, but he asked, “So who is your husband?”
I thought I heard him wrong.
“Who is your husband?” he repeated.
I blinked. Forcing my tongue to just say something, I blurted out, “I’m not married!” in a “it’s-so-obvious-can’t-you-tell” tone.
I don’t remember his reaction, but I know for sure that in the moment, I didn’t know which I rather have done: disappear into the floor or throw back my head and laugh. He did ask who my father was, and somehow I mentioned I read almost all of the books they published, and he took out a book about evaluating yourself before courting. He asked me if I read it before, and I said no. Now I wanted to laugh, but I pinched my lips, glancing at my little friend and happy Esther in the stroller, wondering if they understood what was happening. Then he said, “Well, would you be interested in something like this?” Of course, I did not dare say no, and I said yes. And I could not believe what he did next—he peeled of the three dollar sticker, and handed the book to me. “I’d like to give this to you. God bless you!” No matter how dizzy and embarrassed and absurd I now felt,
I thanked him with all my heart before turning the corner. But the episode had not ended. A lady stopped me, holding out coloring pages. “Would you like to get this for your daughter?”
“Wha—she’s not my daughter.” I glanced down at Esther, sitting up in the stroller. “She’s my sister!”
In the end, the lady apologized, I accepted the booklets, and the homeschool group definitely had something to laugh at during lunch time.
Of late, I have been wondering what growing older means for me. I am fourteen years old. In less than two months I will be fifteen. And right now, I believe growing up means six things for everyone: responsibility, maturity, independence, glancing back, dreaming new dreams, and finally, discovering our inmost belief.
Growing older means taking becoming more responsible. At twelve, I spent time helping out in my friend’s family daycare. We did wash tons of dishes, but we also spent a lot of time on the computer. I went home, half realizing something had not been right. I resolved to do better. At thirteen, I spent four days working there. This time, we helped out more, but still, we spent much of the afternoon in the kitchen, experimenting with baking. I came home convicted. This year, at fourteen, I stayed the entire week. This time was completely different. We worked so much, it exhausted me. But it felt good. It took three years of growth to finally do things the right way.
The fun part of becoming older is becoming more independent. We get more opportunities to go to new places. Sometimes even by ourselves. In June, my friend and I decided to celebrate our high scores in our piano exams, and walk alone the three quarter mile to Panera Bread. (Not that it did not take two weeks to convince our moms that it was safe – God would be with us if a car killed us; that it was perfectly normal – high school students in school go out for lunch sometimes; and that we could definitely call when we arrived and finished eating.) So off we went. Making up what the driver in each car was saying as we crossed the street. When we arrived, we settled down with a refreshing strawberry smoothie, grilled chipotle chicken Panini with its cheddar cheese all hot and bubbly inside, and heart-warming vegetable soup full of tender potatoes, melted onions, pinto beans, and dried tomatoes. My friend volunteered to thank God for the food. So she did, and then we started eating. Just then, a lady passed by our table, and halted in mid-air, as if something changed her mind. We glanced up. She walked to our table.
We glanced at each other, asking: What is she doing—is she going to kick us out for not being in school or something? The lady smiled, saying, “I saw you praying before. That’s good!” Part of growing up is becoming more independent, and acting on our choices. Yes, the lady surprised us, but she showed that adults do watch us youth—especially when youth aren’t in school when they’re supposed to!
Growing up also means dreaming new dreams. At thirteen, I think I
wanted to be a missionary to actors and actresses. Now, at fourteen I actually have a dream. I want to be not just a writer, but a published authoress. I am young, but I believe that being young—instead of holding me back, it opens more opportunities. I am a piano teacher. And I am only fourteen. That proves that young people can do something that usually only “older” and “more accomplished” people do. I actually know more music than before, because teaching makes me check if I would be able to explain how to play. I would not say that I am a good piano teacher, but I am learning. I would not have become a piano teacher without my dad’s urging to do so, and I believe that even if something seems too unrealistic, it doesn’t mean it cannot happen. If God wants me to become published or become a good piano teacher, He will help me.
Growing up means glancing back at our younger self. The most difficult time in my life – my twelve through early thirteen years old, seems so far away. When I look back at old pictures, it seems so long ago, I can hardly believe that I had harbored so much anger and so much bitterness. But at those ages, I started asking, “How do I know that Christianity is the truth? If mommy and daddy raised me Muslim, I would probably believe in Mohammad! There are millions of different beliefs and every single one believes THEY are right. And only one is right. But how do I know which one?” Twelve year olds begin to want to discover the reason behind the truth for themselves.
When plans did not go well, and my parents decided that we could not go to the park, or my sister got a cold that we had to miss the Living Nativity at church, I got very upset. My parents would correct me at the dinner table. And since I never scream at anyone, no matter how angry, I would swallow hard, bow my head, and force my tears down my throat. Submissive on the outside, gritting teeth on the inside. I would force myself to stay at the table until I had to wash dishes. With blurry vision and a runny nose, I prayed that the window’s reflection would not betray me. By the time I reached my room though, I felt as dry as a cactus, and no matter how much my soul cried out, I could not cry.
This entered my early thirteen years. And it got worse. Until one day, I started sharing with a godly mother, “I don’t know if I am a Christian.” Tears spilled, but that conversation marked the beginning of my journey of discovering what it truly means to be a believer and follower in Jesus.
But now I am looking back with new lenses, an older, wiser worldview, and a different journey. When I view 2012 pictures, I see a stranger. A little child. I wonder, did I really battle those things? I was so young! And I have forgotten. I guess it’s my fault, because now I view ten to thirteen year olds as young sheep, still being shepherded. So naturally, when I know that in this picture I was twelve, I cannot believe that I was opposite of a young sheep. I was a bitter, doubtful, wanting-to-know-the-truth girl.
At thirteen, I found the answer to my questions. Jesus Christ is the only Truth anyone can truly believe in. When I started knowing how to follow Him, and then started following Him, He calmed my soul and gave me such a great love for people, that I knew that it was God, and not me.
If growing older means learning when to work and when to play, learning how to eat in a restaurant alone, looking back at recent years with a different worldview, and dreaming new goals, growing older also means realizing that there is not much time left to “grow older”. All decisions I make, who my friends are, how I conduct myself, how close I am with God, how I treat my family—they all combine and mold me into the person called Megan.
Time is fleeting. Doesn’t Thanksgiving seem just like yesterday? And now Thanksgiving is less than a week away! How have we changed?
Right now, at fourteen and almost turning fifteen, I am beginning to realize that I have not much longer to live on this earth. We can choose to waste our lives—spurting idle words, selfishly feeding our earthly passions; it can be anything, but in the end, we will have answer to our Creator.
Blink your eye. How long did it last? This is how short our life is compared to eternity. According to how we live our life, when our time on earth is over, God will judge our actions. Is there something we know we should do, but we have not done yet? Do I hate anyone? Do I trust in God to help me do what is right? Should I be reading that book? How did I just speak to my family? Am I dedicating one hundred percent of my life to God?
There is no time to waste. If we would only understand this, we would make sure we are spending that fleeting second wisely; repenting of our faults, forgiving our enemies, and making sure we are at peace with God. Making sure that, as we depend on God, in every area of our life, we are trying the best we can to please Him.
How much longer will we act ungracious-- take for granted, that previous breath you just took?
At fourteen, I have changed and grown. Often I am not the same person I was last month. I am growing older. Those funerals I have attended, one day it will be me. Beyond this life lies eternity with God in heaven, or Satan in h e l l . Who will we believe? Ecclesiastics says, “Remember the Creator in the days of your youth.” That is the best advice we youth can receive “for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.”
I have lived for almost fifteen years on this earth. All of us are growing older. There’s no time to waste. In every single way we live, let’s glorify God. And may God say to us, “Well done, my servant. Enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”