Those of my generation would probably remember the Toys’R’us jingle which used to go, “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys’R’us kid” which used to be broadcast on the television and radio ever so frequently, especially during the Christmas season. There was always a certain magical feeling within me whenever I could make my “annual pilgrimage” to Toys’R’us during the Christmas season. It was like a magical world come alive, where a young boy could wonder away into all his fantasies with the latest gadgets and toys that surrounded him.
Well, that jingle has kind of left an impression on me and it still remains in my mind as a good reflection of the realities many of us live today. Psychologists tell us that we have to embrace the child that continues to live in each one of us and that is true in terms of the innocence and “child-likeness” each of us has within each of us. I guess it is from this child-likeness that we can even join Jesus in crying out, “Abba, Father!”.
However, I would like to reflect on another phenomenon that many of us young adult Catholics struggle from and this phenomenon is what I may call the “I don’t wanna grow up!” phenomenon. Most of us have grown up physically, intellectually and socially; we have passed out of the education system and may even hold many academic accolades; we have gone on to be in many enviable positions in society and may be able to yield great influence and respect from our peers; however, many of us remain as kids when it comes to our spiritual life and I think the worst part is that we almost feel comfortable with it. Somehow, no one or no situation in our lives has forced us to grow up spiritually and so, we have never seen any need to do so. Most of us started our spiritual regimes when we were kids and have not altered them or matured in them for most of our growing years. I guess this indifference many of us have is the main reason why we have stunted spiritual growths which have had diverse ramifications on many aspects of our Christian life, in particular our vocation journeys and life mission.
I guess part and parcel of growing up is for us to learn to take responsibility for our decisions and this is something scary but we are often forced to do it when it comes to our secular lives because life’s many demands just forces us to grow up whereas, when it comes to our spiritual lives, we are able to neglect it because there seems to be no direct consequences just yet. St Paul admonishes us rather harshly when he says, “Brothers, I could not talk to you as spiritual people, but as fleshly people, as infants in Christ. I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were unable to take it. Indeed, you are still not able, even now, for you are still of the flesh” (1 Cor 3:1-3).
It may be good for us to every now and then stop and take stock of where it is that we stand in our life journeys. When a young man or woman has started working or has established his or her career, people most often would ask, “so when are you going to settle down?”. There are stages in our lives that we are forced to enter, if not by internal conviction, then, it is often by external pressures that we move forward. Since we live in a highly secularised world today, almost nobody, sadly, not even our fellow Christians, would check on us and challenge us to mature in our spiritual lives, it may be up to us to seriously reflect on how we have matured and grown up in our spiritual lives. We need to make time to do this and this must be accompanied by sheer honesty and vulnerability with the self. If we are not experiencing the fullness of life that Christ promises us, then, it is highly likely that we could be living a “kiddish” spiritual life in a grown-ups body and it could be time to get down on your knees and to ask the Lord to guide you and to help you mature in your spiritual life. A good way forward if you are feeling helpless about what you can do about maturing in your spiritual life, then, it may be wise to seek the counsel of a matured Christian whom you know takes his spiritual growth seriously and will be willing to share with you his or her own journey in allowing the Lord to mature in this crucial dimension of being human. Do you suffer from the “I don’t wanna grow up!” phenomenon in your spiritual lives? Then it is time to do something about it!