This week my blog is actually an insightful paper from my daughter as she reflects on her imminent graduation from high school and embarks on an identity management question I frequently still face…
(By Allie Fowler)
Who knows when one is an “adult?” Don’t we wish there was a beautiful golden arch with the letters engraved across the side that each person would walk through which signifies adulthood, and from that moment on, he would be treated as such. Unfortunately, there’s no finite passage, but in a way that’s the beauty of adulthood. It’s objective and it takes maturity for an individual to realize when he is an adult deserving respect. I really felt my transition begin this past summer.
I had the opportunity this summer to go on a week-long missions trip to a Lakota reservation in Oglala, South Dakota with my church. It was my first missions trip, and one of the first times I had taken a trip without my parents. The work was hard, the days were hot, the food was mediocre, and the beds were stiff, but I didn’t care. It was an amazing trip. I had an absolutely incredible experience and learned so much; I wouldn’t trade that week for anything.
Most of the week was spent working with the kids from the reservation, and I learned so much from them. Each day they would come to the recreation center and when the doors opened, each child would come running in with a big smile excited to spend another day playing with us. Most of the kids showed up each day dirty with their clothes frayed and worn, and though their lives seemed foreign from my own, they behaved like normal kids who just wanted to be played with and loved. Not only did I learn about the enjoyment of life from these kids, they taught me a lot about patience and love. Each child would constantly search for my attention by pushing past another child, and since I didn’t know how much attention they were getting at home, I tried to oblige each one so I could see him or her smile. I learned about maturity from having all of these kids looking up to me and counting on me.
The pastor of the church where we stayed gave us a great message. He encouraged us to try not to get distracted by the selfishness of our society, and always make God the most important thing. This concept resonated with me; being unselfish and giving my life to God first and foremost is the way to live, which includes accepting that living life this way includes struggle and sacrifice. I strive for this mindset to travel with me into my future.
Even though summer is long gone and I was only able to be with those kids for a week, each day I try to remember one child’s smile and I try to think about how I can make someone in my life today smile. The people from that reservation remind me that life is to short to be worried about all of the things lacking, but to rejoice in the triumphs of the everyday. I think that by having a positive outlook and searching for the happiness in others, I have been viewed as a role model and as a mature being. Also through learning more about having a good relationship with God, I’ve tried to apply these things to my spiritual life more. I think the leaders of my youth group see these changes within me and see me growing, which is important since I’m the only senior in my youth group the other kids expect maturity from me.
That missions trip was the first time where I was given the responsibility and respect of an adult, and I truly enjoyed the opportunity. I believe it marks a significant step towards my adulthood. Even though I’m still seventeen and have a lot to learn about my life moving forward, I am thrilled to have that trip to reflect on as a transition of me growing up.