Thursday, January 16, 2014

Between

My eldest son has been having a difficult couple of years.  He's not a little kid anymore at a month from his 11th birthday, but he's not anywhere near grown-up. He is between in every way possible, and I have not forgotten how difficult a place that is to be.  I had, however, forgotten the fundamental truth of it being an experience we all face, sooner or later, until another parent posted up a video about bullying she wanted to show her daughter who is struggling. We are all unfinished self creations, but some stages of that creation are harder than others and that difficulty influences how we behave towards others, especially when we are at our vulnerable between stages.

As a parent, I am constantly reminding myself that the age my son is at is hard.  He is now nearly my height, and that sometimes makes it hard to remember that he is still so little inside, so uncertain.  He covers confusion with a cocky attitude or surliness, and lashes out at people around him when he can't figure out what to do with his emotions.  He understands so much about life, at least in comparison to his little brother, but he has so much farther to go before he has a good grasp on how things work. He wants to be an individual, but he want's to fit in with his peers.  He wants freedom, but not responsibility, and he doesn't know whether he wants top grow up or be a baby for a little while longer. His responses to life alternate between breathtakingly beautiful, filled with understanding and compassion and hope, and moments of shocking bad temper and poor thought processes. I don't know what he'll do from one moment to the next, but neither does he.

We all face moments of betweenness, when we are neither one thing nor the other, when we are so incomplete in our transition that we struggle to understand ourselves.  The time between ages 10 and 16 are, for most people, filled with so much growth that we constantly had to reassure ourselves of who and what we thought we were. It's a time of dramatic change, of growth unparalleled for our minds and souls, but it is not the only time we will be between.

Spiritual journeys, especially those that step away from well worn pathways of thought and worship, are very similar to the journey we made through adolescence.  While our appearance doesn't change so much, our hearts can, and it is important to remember that through all the trial, through the growing pains, that we will emerge, different from how we began, but with more experience to wield as a tool.  Even during our times of metamorphosis, we still have choices about how we behave, who we craft ourselves into, and what we do with all of the experiences we gather.  That is an important reminder for me and for my son.  

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