Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The Formative Years
Lots of psychologists say that the formative years of a child's life is from ages 4 (or so) to about 12 (making a guess here). This is when they start making discoveries about themselves. This is where they discover who they are. This is when the decisions that are going to affect the rest of their life happen (most of the time... I'd like to argue that most of that actually happens in high school and college).
For some reason I think psychologists are wrong. Very wrong. I've seen my Grandpa become sweeter with age, instead of becoming an "old fart" like many people do when they get older. I have changed dramatically since I was 12, and the people who I know best have too. For example, when I was young I had a bad habit of stealing candy from my dad's tin, or reading after mom and dad turned the lights out and specifically told me to go to bed, or lying to them directly. I had heard that a child's nature/character/"who they are" is determined by the time they were 12, and as a 12-year-old, I'd lie in bed thinking, "Please God, don't let this be who I'm supposed to be. The psychologists missed one very important thing. This, I think is the fact that we are all born with one fatal disease. We are all born sinners! We are "who we are" from the moment we enter this world with the sin nature. It is only after we accept Christ that we begin to change. I'm no psychologist, but I have this theory that for Christians, our most "formative years" are the years we spend from when we first accept Christ as our savior, to when we die and have our eyes opened to everything we've ever been missing.
So, to get to my point after a very long opening. There are several years that I believe are some of my most formative. The first of them begins on January 23 of 2006. In January of '06 I was 17, and enduring high school. It had seemed like fun back when I was 14, but now all it was was work and class (online) and the occasional IM jaunt with my best friend, Katie Beth. On the 23rd, however, a person stepped into my life which changed it quite a bit. David Gardner showed up on my blog claiming that the apostle peter had told him that stalking my blog wasn't the right thing to do any more. I was kinda weirded out, but I thought it would be interesting to get to know this dude. Dave later introduced me to his brothers, Daniel and Ben Gardner. All three of them had grown up in Brazil because their parents (God bless them) were/are missionaries to the people of Brazil.
Almost exactly one month later, I joined the forum that Daniel had created, "MK Forums" which stood for "missionary kids Forums", of course. Right behind me came Katie Beth, and she persuaded several of her friends to join as well. Because I was homeschooled, and about 70% of the kids on that forum were as well, I actually felt like I fit in. I made friends right and left, never mind that I'd never met them, that they were "internet buddies". My parents complained that I was always on my computer. I felt like that was the only place I had friends, which didn't help issues. However, in this "virtual world" I grew. I knew that they were all Christians, and would tolerate my growing love for Christ, they would actually help me. There was a serious forum and the (more predominate) silly forum. My expertise for puns developed through a thread that grew out of proportion (thanks Ben!). Daniel introduced me to the world of photo-editing and short videos, and David was generally my goofy buddy. With all three boys, and the various friends I made in MK Forums, I had mostly silly talks, but also out of these friendships came deeper, more serious talks. It was "formative". I learned about myself, about others, and more importantly about God.
The second stage of my "formative" years was coming to college. Coming to college was the hardest and yet, most freeing thing I've ever done in my life. It was a step in the direction of finding out who I was/am in Christ and whether or not my faith was real. When I set foot on App's campus, I was pretty certain it was real. I wanted to be known as the "God-follower". I was naive. That was good. Find a church was the hardest thing I've ever done. It taught me that God is great, and that He'd given me a passion for showing people who He is through song, through worship. I also learned that first year that family really is important. I didn't quite realized what I was taking for granted until I didn't have it close to hand. This year I've learned all about how God is soverign. How He's the one who rescued me from a dragon. :-) Yeah, college is going to continue to be formative.
And I can't wait.