Living the in-between
New Voices: By and about young adultsby Sharon Kniss
I thought my life would begin when I turned 13. Then again when I turned 16. Then when I graduated from high school. Then I realized I would become a real adult when I graduated from university.
What I realize now is that life doesn't start and end at such well-defined moments of transition (ages 16, 21, 40, 50, 65; marriage, divorce, birth, death, a new job, a new worldview).
"Life is in the interstices of time" say Masson and George in An Uncommon Correspondence. It is in the in-between, in the gray matter between black and white.
We are given clear markers in Jesus’ life at age 12 and age 30. But we assume the in-between time is irrelevant (it’s not in the Bible after all) and that Jesus and the world were just waiting until he could begin his ministry at the magic age of 30.
I'm not convinced. But whether or not he was "just waiting," it seems the church has subconsciously adopted a pattern of children turning into adolescents and then into so-called "young adults"—a period of waiting or "exploring" or "testing out" in more active terms until they turn 30 and are allowed to participate in the life of the church. Or participate in the world or be accepted as an adult without the "young" adjective.
It is assumed (accurately) that when you are young you spend time considering what you may be called to do with your life. You explore; you test out ideas. And there's an understanding that by the time you reach age 30, you will have figured it out.
I'm not yet 30, but I’ve heard from many people from 30 well into their 60s who are still asking that question and still exploring and testing out ideas.
In July 2008, I had two friends die, one from cancer and one from an accident, aged 20 and 22. They weren’t just waiting to become an occupational therapist or a nurse to fulfill their "calling." They were already living fully. Our calling in life is not to be a doctor or a father or a teacher. We may be called to a specific job, location or situation and move through another marked transition. But our greater calling, our eternal calling, is to be—a hungering and growing child of God, follower of Jesus, giver of love, in this moment, in this space, in this here and now.
I often find myself looking toward the next transition: a new job, new house, new degree, new family, when I turn 30, whatever it may be. But life is not about waiting for the next thing to come along so that life may begin.
The living, learning, loving and losing that I am doing right now—in my in-between time, my gray matter time—is just as significant, if not more so, than the potential future transition marker ahead. Learning how to live with the chaos of the in-between, in the uncertainty, in the imbalance, in the confusion is our calling. The church can't sit on its haunches and wait until its new "young adult" leaders turn 30 (“real adults”) before using their gifts and talents. The gray matter and in-betweens only continue: new jobs, loss of faith, deaths, births, tragedies, new worldview.
Life happens. All ages have contributions to make in the life of the church. If we wait until people cross particular thresholds, we're likely missing out and potentially also preserving a false notion that “real adults” have it all together: answers figured out, callings found and followed, lives stable and secure.
If we're overconcentrated on what’s next or waiting for the next transition or threshold, then we forget about living in the now, in the in-between, and living in the present time becomes painfully dissatisfying.
But it is in that in-between that we find God actively at work: when we stop waiting and become aware of the present moment, of ourselves and of God and begin to live again—fully in the present moment, dealing with the unknown, the raw, the surprise.
When I can be fully present in the here-and-now as a child of God, that’s grace for me. Found in the dark and the light, in the present, in the in-between.
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- Up, out, down
- A paracosmic Millennium
- The Word in worship
- God's realm in and among us
- In March
- The cost of medicines
- My testimony
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- Web exclusive: John Howard Yoder's 'irresponsibility'?
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- MCC leaders respond to MC USA moderator
- Review: Avatar lays groundwork for peaceful solutions
- Franconia's plan to dismiss staff on hold
- Moderator questions MCC
- CPT founding director Gene Stoltzfus dies
- Goshen College announces plans for national anthem's implementation
- Mennonite providers get update on health-care legislation
- Mennonite artist creates icons
- A nurse describes her two weeks in Haiti
- News Briefs - March 2010
- Festival celebrates 300 years in Lancaster
- Burkholder's dissertation 'all but banned'
- Brenneman calls for new 'school of thought'
- Survey: more women in leadership but still not enough
- MDS trailer stolen Jan. 5, worth over $10,000
- Resources - March, 2010
- Births and Marriages - 2010
- Inattention blindness
- Living the in-between
- Tenderly name others
- God's avatar
- Developing leadership for the church
- 'They seek a city'
- Ceaseless generosity
- First things first: Seek God's wisdom
- Lent reorients us
- How could they do such a thing?
- How justify special privileges?
- Ethnicity should be celebrated
- Jesus did not know everything
- Saddened by national anthem
- Be careful about our beliefs
- Latent dynamics gone
- Lacks spirit of unity
- Time to get behind Stutzman
- Richly blessed by every article