If we’re willing to speak candidly, we ask the question in a more probing way. Not just where did you spend your childhood and adolescence. Rather, as what point in your life did you become a mature adult? Where were you and what were you doing?
Of course, what we mean by “growing up” is worthy of discussion. Have you grown up because you reached a certain age? Because you left parents and family for work or education? Because you have gained certain skills or had certain experiences? What must you be or do to grow up?
As faith leaders, we believe you begin to grow up when you are connected. This means, first, being connected spiritually to a reality beyond yourself, in ways that encourage you to be more and be better. Christians, and other people of faith, call this reality “God.” We experience God as goodness and love, prompting us to be connected in life-giving ways.
Life’s journey entails bringing this experience of goodness and love into every moment, every relationship, every task. It doesn’t happen quickly. We must grow into it.
Second, you have grown up when your connections to others move beneath life’s surface. You discover you are engaging with others in terms of real feelings, real challenges, real joys. You value other people and they value you. In short you care, and that care is apparent.
It doesn’t happen obviously or readily. It’s not becoming old enough to vote; it’s not like graduating from school or getting a job. Growing up spiritually has much in common with falling in love and building a relationship. It is like finding where and with whom you feel at home.
Growing up is an awakening to depth and possibility in life. You see what you had not seen before, even in people and places that had been there all along. But this awakening is just the beginning. A dazzling spiritual journey lies ahead. Where did you grow up? With whom? Into what sort of life?
William L. Sachs