It is perpetually difficult to be patient with the level of maturity (or lack of maturity) of the people who are in our lives: spouses, friends, children/adult children, church family, bosses, co-workers, etc. As a relationship coach and a licensed professional counselor (LA & TX), I hear people complain about how someone in their life, “just doesn’t get it.”
- When will my adult child ever grow up?
- I wish my husband would care more about ________.
- My boyfriend always loses his temper over the silliest stuff!!!
- My wife is such a complainer. I wish she would just grow up!
- There are countless other examples …
In close relationships, when a person in our life is immature, we, also, will experience the repercussions of their immature behavior, thinking, beliefs, and coping strategies. Their immature behavior is like a speed boat traveling too fast in a narrow canal and the “waves” they create because of immaturity wash over our water-front property. In order to not lose it with these folks, it is important for us to have a Godly perspective about human maturity. If we can’t arrive at a balanced perspective, the results are catastrophic: we start hating what they do (criticism), then we might begin hating who they are (contempt). If they don’t change quickly enough, in our estimation, we will begin to withdraw from them and break off the quantity and quality of our time with them.
Word pictures are wonderful tools that can help one grasp a theoretical concept. For example, a wife complains about some quality of her husband that she deems an example of his “immaturity.” I might say to the wife …
- Murphy – “Do you have children?”
- Wife – “Yes, I have four children. Timmy, Tommy, Johnny, and Joe.”
- Murphy – “How old were they boys when they started to walk?”
- Wife – “All of them were about 12 months old, except Joe. He was my late bloomer. He did not really start walking until 13.5 months. I thought he’d never get the hang of it.”
- Murphy – “When Joe did not walk at 12 months, did you take a ruler and beat his little legs to make him ‘get it’ sooner?”
- Wife – (astonished and shocked” “NO!!!!! Of course I didn’t do that!!!!!”
- Murphy – “Why not?”
- Wife – “That would not have helped. Joe was not ready to walk until he was 13.5 months old.”
- Murphy – “You are absolutely right. He wasn’t ready yet!!!! His bones, muscles, tendons were not ready. It’s possible that his desire to walk had not fully come into play. But, when everything was at just the right level of “maturity,” … His muscles, bone density, tendons, ligaments, balance, and desire were all at the perfect level, Joe did walk!!!!”
Is it impossible for “force” someone to grow up? Can we use our personal will-power to make a person mature?
As much as we would like to, we can’t control others. We can pray that they will mature, but then, we still have to wait for everything to come together at just the right moment. ONLY GOD KNOWS WHEN A PERSON WILL “GET IT” AND BECOME MORE MATURE. We are relegated to a posture of hoping, praying, wishing, waiting, and watching.
Is there anything else we could do? Maybe so …
We can attempt to understand and accept our limitations in the lives of the people we love.
We can encourage the person we love. We can cast a vision of their positive future. We can love others and choose to believe the best of them throughout their journey. We can be compassionate with them when they fail.
God may or may not create a moment of conversation where we can speak into another person’s life. If that opportunity arises, by God’s unending grace, we won’t sermonize, lecture, be-little, criticize, condemn, or abandon the person.
Everyday we all need to pray, “Father, help me grow up more into the fullness of Christ this day. Let me focus on me and not those around me. Help me place the people I love into your loving arms and allow you to do your “God-Thing” as only you can. Amen.”
Love you guys,