From Childish to Childlike: You’re On Your Own Now (?)

As a child, I would always look back at my mom before doing anything.  If an older person asked me a question, I would look back at my dad for an answer.  If my friend wanted to come over, my eyes would avert to my mom, who would give me the okay.  When I was in high school, I had to ask permission from my mom to go anywhere. I would have to tell her where I was going, what I would be doing, and how long it would take.

From a young age, I longed for the opportunity to go overseas.  I wanted to travel the world and write about my experiences.  I waited for the chance to make my own decisions.  As a child, since I was not wise enough to make my own decisions, I depended on the will of my parents.

Yesterday, my mom and I were driving to visit my grandpa.  My mom told me that since I was a little girl, I always had peace and confidence in myself, so she knew that I would travel the world someday.  I looked at her, surprised.  “Does that mean I can overseas?” I asked.  “Of course.  You just graduated from college.  You’re own your own now.”  At that moment, my mom told me the words I had always wanted to hear.  I am free to go wherever I want.  There are no limits.  I am on my own.

From the time we are able to speak, we are trained to learn how to live without the help of others. Our ultimate prize is buying our own homes and having our own incomes.  We learn to think for ourselves, and we are taught to fight to uphold our own arguments.  Our parents bring us to daycare or school so that we could gain an education away from our homes.  This encourages us to one day leave the nest and have our own jobs.  We wait for the day when we can say, “I’m on my own now.”

After pondering this statement, I began to wonder: is independence really a true sign of maturity?  Although all of these are all good things, living with the help of others is not childish.  Sure, we may need to break free from the finances and shelter of our parents, but we are not supposed to live life completely alone.

Unfortunately, I believed that I was supposed to do everything on my own for longer than I would like to admit.  I was afraid of asking for help, and I boasted whenever I accomplished any task by my own strength.  Despite the smile on my face, I desperately desired the help of others. I desired someone to help me carry my burdens with me.  I knew that if I asked for help, I would look like a failure or a drama queen, so I kept my mouth shut.

Going to a small college changed my mindset about asking for help.  My classmates and I were like a family, holding doors open for each other and eating together at dinner.  My friends would ask me about my day, their eyes shining with curiosity.  Eventually,  I opened up to them.  I told them my mistakes, my concerns, my fears, and my faults.  They walked alongside me, helping me get back on my feet and figure out my life.

In the Bible, James writes that we do not have because we do not ask (4:2).  Instead, God promises to strengthen us and help us (Isaiah 41:10); all we have to do is ask.  We can ask for help from God as well as from our friends.  Ecclesiastes 4 says that it is better to have someone help you when you fall than to be alone.  Your friends will listen to your problems, successes, and failures and help you to live in a mature way.  Mentors and people in authority can give you wise counsel.  They can see an outside perspective of the situation so that you can make better decisions.

I am excited about having the freedom to go where I want.  However, I do not need to burn bridges just because I am growing into maturity.  As a matter of fact, I need the encouragement and admonishment of other people in order to fully thrive.  I am so thankful for the people that have brought me through college, and I look forward to meeting (or continuing to know) the people that will help me in this next season of my life.

Asking for help is not childish.  Be childlike, and ask for help whenever you need it.  You will be surprised at how much you can grow with the help of your friends, family, and colleagues.

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