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Why I won't grow up

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Peter Pan sings, "If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up, not me!" What joy it brings me to give myself permission not to be a grown-up. Let the world around me be so wise they pass judgment, assign blame, carry heavy loads of personal responsibility.

It's a bit of wishful thinking, though. The bills must be paid, and we do need to remember where and when to show up to meet our obligations. In some ways, there is just no getting around being grown up. Of course, there is a difference between being childlike and childish. I feel as if God makes this deal with us: "You act responsibly, alertly, maturely, but understand and have faith in Me as a child would in a parent." God is a loving, responsible, trustworthy parent. And guess what? He doesn't make mistakes. God is not a here-today-and-gone-fishing-tomorrow God. God is an ever-present Father and Mother.

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So far, so good. But somewhere in my reasoning, I used to section off areas that I didn't think God was in charge of. I only trusted Him to resolve some of my concerns, but not when I needed to buy a car, or needed help when my feelings were hurt or when I was sad. This internal editing of what I could and couldn't pray about got me into trouble. Grown-up, burden-bearing trouble.

A woman once asked me why I wasn't praying to God about not feeling beautiful or feeling less than adequate about not being married. I was shocked. What selfish things to pray to God about, I thought! Certainly the "prayer police" would punish such indulgences. Hadn't I learned to live with myself, to accept who I am, even if I felt at times unlovely or unlovable? Wasn't that the most I could hope for? I needed to earn my "divine brownie points" before asking for something for me. I was so grown-up and unselfish. I just knew that when I really needed God, I could say, "See here, I have been such a good person; now You should honor this prayer." Not a very pretty picture, is it? Almost "prayer blackmail."

Two books helped me rethink my reasoning about what I could and couldn't ask of God. One book, the Bible, says, "lean not on your own understanding" (Prov. 3:5). The other book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, begins with this sentence, "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings." I began to rethink my position of deciding what workload to give to God and what I should work out myself. If I could lean on Him, rely on Him - and yes, even trust in Him - I would be like a little child who depends on his or her parent for everything. A child says, "I'm hungry, thirsty, sad, angry, confused," and the parent answers every need.

When Jesus took on his holy ministry, he didn't have a list of what he would or would not heal, or whom he would or would not see. Multitudes would surround him and be healed. The disciples decided to screen Jesus' workload on more than one occasion. When little children were drawn to him and his loving thought, the disciples took it upon themselves to keep these kids from bothering the Master. But Jesus took that opportunity to remind the disciples that we all need to become like little children.

I'm hearing the prayer police now saying, "How fortunate you don't have to be suffering with difficult bosses to earn your living, or have mother-in-law problems, health problems (fill-in-the-blank) that others have to contend with...." You know what I say to these thoughts? Fortune, luck, and chance have nothing to do with my being free from feeling burdened. I lean on God, and there isn't a single person who doesn't have the right to demand of life that it allow for childlike joy to enter every part of experience.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock,

and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that

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knocketh it shall be opened.

Matthew 7:7, 8