What makes a man or a woman become…mature? And is there any such thing as spiritual maturity? We hardly think in those terms these days.
How does a child become a woman, or become a man? Are we talking about a physical appearance: years of living? Height? Having a job, career, or profession? Getting married? Having a family? All of those things are are merely symptoms of becoming a man or woman, but what makes a woman or a man become a woman or a man?
When I was a young girl, my parents may have shared with me how to “grow up” and be a decent woman, but what does that mean to a child? How does a young child, or teen-ager, or even a young adult understand the concept of “putting away childish things, and becoming a ‘grown-up’ man or woman?” I will give you a hint: it has to do with changes in one’s life, apart from being the child one is, and having the ability to realize the comparison to what a parent taught, and what the child is experiencing.
Suddenly, a choice is at hand, and it’s up to that “child” to make decisions. But that alone isn’t enough. That ‘child,’ becoming, has to experience the consequences of the decisions made, otherwise she or he has missed a “learning” that would lead one closer to maturity.I remember an experience and a choice I had once.
The first choice I remember having was a response I made to a traumatic experience with a babysitter who held my hands under a faucet and burned them. Her two twin sons also abused me. My mother could not understand why I screamed and begged and cried when she took me to be cared for by this woman, as my mother had to work.
I was only two years old, but I was trying to make a stand here, and I had consequences for my choosing: I was there only two days, and my mother–God bless her–decided to stop taking me to that woman. So my response reaped good consequences. I don’t know if it reaped good consequences for my mother, as I do not remember from that point where I went, but since I don’t have a memory of it, I assume it was pleasant enough. So I learned something that day, but it would take more than once for me to compare, analyze and make sense of it. I was two years old, for goodness sakes.
If you have ever considered the choices or responses you made in all sorts of situations and circumstances: being abused, running away, stealing, having friends that were cruel, being cruel yourself! Even having children, marriage, taking a certain job, going out with various groups of people, studying for a test or copying someone else’s… all these things have built-in choices to which we are prone to respond and act accordingly. All these things have consequences. Maybe you haven’t grown mature enough to recognize them, but they do have consequences.
Some people especially, have to have major life-changing consequences for them to recognize the choices that brought these people to that point. Sometimes, it’s not even your choice but someone else’s and it affects your life. NOW, you have a choice. If bitterness or resentment or un-forgiveness has been your response for a choice, you haven’t yet understood the consequences are directly related to your choices. So now, everything that happens afterward are colored by the choice of perception you made by that traumatic event. That is to say, that even the worst consequences that seem like you had nothing to do with, are somehow tied to your responses, and if you think not, then they are tied to your perceptions now.
If you cannot believe me here, maybe you’ve got some more maturity to get to, before believing me. I know there is a lot more growth I have to do too, but I’ve done some and acquired maturity just from the major consequences I’ve experienced through my choices and decisions in certain things. Some of them will never get better because I was immature at the time, to make the right choices. I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes, is that easier to comprehend?
Why else do you think Jesus said, when he was being abused, tortured, and slowly killed: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” It is obvious he knew those who had fear in their hearts, so much so that they would make irrational choices and decisions. He knew the hearts and minds of those who made authoritative and created ways to silence people they feared. Jesus knew they did not have the spiritual maturity to understand their own fears and hatreds … today we might call it racism, bigotry, or something like that, but even those like that should be understood and given empathy and compassion.
Why else do you think that Jesus came. He also knew humans are reflective and create recordation of their history, their feats, and even their failures. Sooner or later, we’d all get it. Now that’s the kind of maturity I want–that’s the only kind that will make this a better world. I think the whole purpose for this kind of maturity is to teach us empathy and compassion so that we can have that same kind of empathy and compassion Jesus displayed while being brutally murdered by by frightened, self-aggrandizing immature souls.
FATHER, forgive us… we sometimes don’t realize what we’re doing.