Old Paths to the New You

by Spencer Harmon
by Spencer Harmon

For many twenty-somethings, we live in the awkward space between college kid and adult.  We journey through college, a manifold experience of uncertainty and discovery, and slowly wake up to the world.  For some, this is  devastating – realizing that their ambitions won’t pay their bills.  For others, this is invigorating – discovering gifts and abilities they never knew they had.  These are the extremes of the pendulum, and many of us find ourselves in the gap inside the gamut.

There is, however, a common discovery for many of us on the dawn of adulthood. We realize that they were right.  

Those ever-present voices of reason throughout your formative years when you thought you knew everything.  And even for those whose parents were absent, or who might as well have been, most of us have a they group. And we realize they were not so unacquainted with “how things really work” in the world.  Whether we like it or not, many of us see our reality beginning to align with those parents, mentors, or that older lady that had you over for lunch every Sunday.

Growing older has a humbling effect.  This comes when new responsibilities and those old voices of reason combine in an important moment of clarity and surrender.  We make the startling realization: I need help.

As we navigate through the new roads of adulthood, we need the voices of older saints to guide us.

The gravity of adulthood compels most of us into two opposite ends of surrender.  Some surrender their responsibilities by avoiding situations that would stretch them.  This is a safe place, and functions as a padded room of pride.  It’s safe, but lonely, and you’ll never know what is outside those four walls of your comfort zone.  Others, however, surrender their pride by admitting their limits and inexperience and recruiting help to understand their world and their place in it.  This is not a safe place; it is a marathon of humility – there are cramps, and aches, and course corrections – but discovery is along this road, and you’ll find your endurance builds as you go.

If you haven’t surrendered yet, you will.  Circumstance may crush you, a relationship will take a complex turn, a responsibility will lead you into uncharted territory.  Which surrender will you choose?

You need them.  The stable voice of a parent, the watchful eye of a mentor, the seasoned view of a counselor.  Although our young ambition is good, it’s often a mile wide and an inch deep.  Our limitations are not meant to cripple us, they are meant to compel us towards becoming life-long learners at the feet of God’s Word, God’s Spirit, and God’s saints found in the local church.

This will be uncomfortable.  These voices will poke, and prod, and press, and sometimes you will want to run.  Stay put.  These older voices force us out of the echo chambers of our peer groups, and enlarge our categories to match the bigness of God’s world.  The avenue of awakening is sometimes awkward. But awkwardness never killed anything, except our pride, and maybe our pride needs to die anyway.  Let your soul steep outside its comfort zone, and you’ll find the sweet taste of sanctification.

But this is not a one way road.  Parents, teachers, mentors, counselors: we need you.  You might feel irrelevant – you’re not.  Your fermented life produces the sweet wine of wisdom.  And we need wisdom to navigate these roads that grow increasingly treacherous as we live.  Your small words – and more importantly your invested time – might have eternal reverberations through our lives.

Let the words of the older generation of saints line the way of your path through life.  Let their testimonies of God’s work, their experiences of God’s world, and their stories of God’s grace spur you towards a deeper and wiser life.  And let the seasoned seeds of the older generation yield its fruit.