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We all know that acting like a grownup is not exactly tied to chronology. You can be old and act sophomoric or young and carry great wisdom. One thing is certain. We want to grow up. We have a sense that life is better and happier for real grownups.
For most of us, though, happy maturity is a process and time helps. Here are some key indicators—13 signs that you are finally a grownup. We could also call these 13 signs of being spiritually mature.
What would you tell your younger self about how to be?
You don’t always have to be right or impressive.
You finally learn that you have wasted too much of your time on impression management and you see that all you have to offer others is what you are. It is OK—and even important–to be vulnerable since that is the human condition and that is who we all are. You will connect more deeply with others hearts when you don’t work so hard to impress them. Besides, seeking to impress others, simply wears you out. It’s too much work.
The same goes for always needing to be right. You understand that someone who always needs to be right is saying that they can’t learn or profit from another’s knowledge or expertise. A great phrase to remember, especially in marriage is, “I believe you could be right.”
You’ve learned that fear or stress does not improve your performance.
You recognize that too much of your life has been twisted in fear and anxiety, hoping your performance can be good enough or that things will work out just as you hoped. A sage once quipped, “I know worry helps, because most of the things I worried about, never happened.” It is folly to think that we can control the outcome of events in our lives. Too many other factors play in.
You have also learned that it is dangerous to let fear be your motivation—whether in seeking to win another’s love or in any endeavor.
What we can do is obey the commandment to “fear not”, given by the Lord who sees with perfect clarity and knows this: “I hate to spoil the end of the story for you, but everything is going to be OK.”
The Lord is not on the line with you. You trust Him, even when you don’t see His immediate answers.
You have learned that taking your spiritual temperature continually to see if God is there is just the opposite of faith. You have sought the Lord with “pure intent” enough to know that He is there and that you can trust Him. You trust that He has heard you and know that trusting God also means trusting His timing.
You don’t turn from Him because He is not being directed by your requests. You know as He told Abraham, “I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all” (Abraham 3:19).
He may not be silent. You may just not be noticing His answers.
You can love people who don’t agree with you or look like you or don’t love you back.
It is so easy to love those who are like you. We like to nod in agreement with those who see the world just as we do. We feel a comfortable familiarity with those who share our national background. We love those who love us.
Yet, the real spiritual adventure comes in finding out just how expansive the love in you can be. The joy comes in recognizing every person, however inconvenient to you it may be, as a child of God, worthy of your love. That kind of love takes you to an entirely new region with tastes of that far off country from whence we came. God is love and you begin to know Him better as you feel just a portion of the love He feels for every one of His children.
You can do good things without expecting an immediate reward or credit.
My Dad used to say, “You can do a lot of good in this world if you don’t care who gets the credit.” Let’s admit it, rewards are sweet, but how limiting our sphere of action would be and how pinched our heart if the only reason we did good things was to be noticed or given a gold star on our foreheads. How puny our faith would be if we turned to God and expected Him to reward us immediately for every virtuous act we do.
There is a secret satisfaction in being not only willing to “lift where we stand” but give our all to it. That is reward in itself.
You have abandoned perfectionism and have the courage to acknowledge that you still have to grow.
When the Lord commands us to be “perfect”, a better translation of that word is “whole, the end point of a process.” And what is that process? It is wholeheartedly receiving the atonement.
Perfectionism is a difficult state to live in, because it automatically brings shame with it. You can’t fool yourself that you are better than you are—nor can you set that standard here and now because it is impossible. You don’t know enough about other people’s hearts or your own to be perfect. You miss too much in the weakness and blindness of mortality to be perfect.
It is so much better to say, “I have the courage to be vulnerable. I can grow and learn. I am not afraid to try something I am not yet good at. I am not afraid to acknowledge a weakness and seek in every way to learn better.”
You travel with ready forgiveness for yourself and others.
You have learned that your refusal to forgive someone does not punish them; it only poisons you. You let go. You don’t hold on for awhile and then let go. You don’t punish them for a while and then release them. Like Nephi, you freely forgive those around you, and you do it now. Since this is a difficult task, you ask the Lord to help you. Let others grow. Don’t leave them paralyzed in some former version of themselves.
You forgive yourself for your shortcomings as well. That is what frees you to grow.
What’s more, you have become very slow to take offense or rise in anger. You also don’t travel through life as if others are judging your every sentence.
As our granddaughter Madison says, “Always give others at least three what-ifs.” What she means is that you give other people the benefit of the doubt. You try to read their context. You assume that others are doing the best they can.
She told us this when someone ran a red light nearly creaming our car. The reflexive anger rose in us, a reflection of the fear we felt for having come so close to a bad accident. She said, “What if that person were on the way to the hospital to deliver a baby? What if they just got bad news and are crying so hard, they could not see the light.” Probably none of those things were true, but giving them three “what-ifs” eased our hearts and we were no longer enflamed at them.
Oh how beautiful it is to be slow to take offense.
You can be fully in the present without carrying the burden of the past or the worry about what might happen in the future.
Eternity for us is right in this present moment. You don’t let it be spoiled by carrying with you the unpleasant things of the past. Faith is always a looking forward, letting the past be past. Because of the atonement, you don’t have to be bound there by your mistakes or the agency of others that may have hurt you.
Since you are a grown up, you have also learned that you can’t control everything that might happen in the future. You can dream. You can hope. You can prepare. But you don’t let the future crush the present because it holds some uncertainties.
You have learned you are safe because you are in the Lord’s hands.
You recognize that nothing matters more than drawing close to the Lord. You have given up the guise of being self-sufficient.
If you are grownup, you have probably come to the time in your life when you were standing before the impossible and furious Red Sea with the Egyptian army thundering in chariots behind you, armed with spears to kill you. In other words, you have probably come to an impossible situation.
If you have loved Him “with all your might, mind, and strength”, you have probably already felt His rescue. If you have felt His Spirit you have found out that nothing on this earth, nothing that the world has so tantalizingly to offer can compare with the sweetness of the light that cascades into your soul from the Lord.
Because He first loved you, you have learned to love Him with all your heart and make sacrifices to demonstrate that.
You are emotionally resilient in life’s storms.
You have learned that God can comfort you no matter how difficult the way. Your relationship with Him has strengthened you day by day and line upon line. It is not just your strength you are calling on, but His as well. Thus, nothing is as hard as is might be. You are cushioned, comforted, guided. You see that this storm will be followed by a flawless morning.
You have the gift of optimism because you have learned to see clearly.
Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton said, “Optimism is true moral courage.” Optimism is also spiritual maturity. It is knowing, as President Gordon B. Hinckley said, that things work out.
You have learned the fine art of laughter because you take neither yourself nor your situation too seriously.
You have learned that much of your happiness or unhappiness is created in your own powerful mind by the things you think and the way you perceive the world. You have chosen to walk in the light and therefore you see more clearly.
You are grateful in all things.
You have developed eyes to see the gifts that life constantly showers upon you and your soul stays awakened with gratitude. You do not believe that you are just entitled to the good things around you, but have the distinct joy of knowing that you have been gifted because you are loved.
You have learned to be grateful even when life is difficult because you trust what God is doing with you and for you.
You are no longer so preoccupied with yourself.
Instead of seeing the entire world as a mirror that reflects you, you now have windows so you can see others with more clarity. You find that one of your biggest joys is in serving with compassion.
You tackle nagging tasks without dreading them.
You remember to bring an umbrella.
You write thank you notes.
You tip the morning server in a restaurant generously.
You get down to their level to talk to little children.
You have an extra set of keys.
You smile readily.
You can travel broadly, but understand that the richness might lie in your own garden. Smell your own apple blossoms.
You don’t sweat the small stuff—and you recognize that almost everything is small stuff.