Puberty does not Equal Maturity
Before iPods, before DVD players, yea verily, even before VCRs, back when everything was in black and white.
(OK, I’m kidding about that last part.)
(It was Technicolor.)
Back then, the best thing that could happen at school was to walk into the classroom and see a film projector! (Yes the kind that makes the “clickity clickity” sound as the reels spin.)
I actually only remember a couple of those films. One was about a kid who gets carried away by a huge bunch of balloons. (Sorry to burst your balloon, but Pixar didn’t make “up” that idea.) Another was about a boy who liked dolls. But the one that captured my heart was the film about this amazing phenomenon called puberty.
Roll the cheesy soundtrack!
Now cue the narrator:
“This is the springtime of your life! Many exciting changes will be happening to your body! Some of them will be a little scary, some of them will make you feel funny, but many of them will be EXCITING!”
And so we learned how a healthy body grew: automatically!
We didn’t have to do anything to make puberty happen. It just happened. We learned that, without any conscious decision or effort on our part, our child-like body would eventually morph into an adult body.
I’m pretty sure they used some butterfly analogy.
We were introduced to grownup grooming habits like shaving and wearing deodorant. And bathing more than once a week. Using soap. (I’m not certain how the butterfly motif fit in there.)
However, I don’t remember a film about how to act like an adult. It’s like as long as you looked sharp and smelled clean you got a gold star. In fact, I don’t recall learning a thing about emotional or relational maturity in school.
And this has proved problematic, because growing up emotionally and relationally is a very different thing from growing up physically. Acquiring a grownup body may come effortlessly to most, but actually becoming a grownup IS NOT AUTOMATIC! Indeed, sadly, it has proven even more difficult for subsequent generations than it did for my own.
Might this reality explain what we see happening in our culture: adult bodies with little child hearts, out looking for love; wounding and being wounded in return. Some dating: trapped in a never-ending series of serious relationships followed by devastating break-ups. Others mating: hooking up and then waking up with relational hangovers they can’t seem to shake. And most just hating themselves for their failure to find whatever it is they’re looking for in all this dating and mating.
Does any of this explain your experience? Or perhaps that of someone you know and love?
Here’s the deal, some honestly don’t want to grow up.
If that’s you, I’m begging you: PLEASE DON’T DATE!
You may think that once you reach puberty, you can enjoy grownup things, without troubling yourself with minutia like emotional or relational maturity.
And you’re right. Sort of.
But in the end, you’ll never discover the deeper intimacy for which your soul longs. In fact, you’ll be diverted away from it.
And lose your birthright. Just like Esau. Only he got soup, but it was the same thing.
Others do want to grow up, but simply don’t know how. (Again, they didn’t show us that film back in middle school.)
If that’s you, I’m urging you: please don’t date for now. Resolve to put your dating life on hold; even if you feel like time is slipping away. Jumping behind the wheel of a car before you know how to drive just because you want to get somewhere, is not a plan for success. It’s more of a death wish.
Trust me! If you’ll determine to grow emotionally and relationally FIRST before dating, you may be surprised when you wind up in a fantastic relationship far faster than you imagined.Think of it like, becoming “the one” before you find “the one.”
However, you need to keep the proper perspective, far more important than how soon you’re able to get into that right relationship is how much you’re able to enjoy it and how long it is able to last. That’s where your investment in emotional and relational maturity will really pay off. Not might pay off. Will!
We’ll tackle that question next week, but in the meantime, ponder it yourself. Consider asking a good friend or friends these questions:
- Do you think you’re emotionally and relationally mature enough to be dating? What is the evidence?
- How satisfied are you in your relationship with God? How much do you trust Him? How consistently do you obey Him? What would He say if we asked Him?
- How healthy are your closest family relationships? Is there anything you could do to improve one or more of them? Are you harboring bitterness from past hurt?
- How deep are your closest friendships? How much do you know about your friend’s past, their hurts and hopes, fears and fond memories? How well do they know yours?
- What unmet emotional needs are you expecting your dating life to fulfill?
This post is one in a series on Purpose-Driven Dating which we define as follows: Intentional time invested in one other person for the purpose of growing in intimacy that might lead to a life-giving, life-long marriage. Our current focus: …for the purpose of growing in intimacy… The series begins with this post.
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
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The LoveEd study guide series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE YOU FALL IN LOVE! It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. Check out the first two 8-lesson study guides in our store. You can walk through it on your own, but it’s more fun with friends, so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study. Even better? And ask a married couple you respect to lead it!