Recently, I found myself in an incredibly frustrating and exhausting place: I was truly growing – learning to hear God clearly, stepping out to follow him fully, seeking the whole time to honor others, including and especially those who objected to my chosen path. More than ever before, I was thinking and acting like an adult. Yet certain people didn’t see me as an adult or treat me as an adult … because all of us have been caught up in a system that does not count me qualified for ‘adulthood.’
Even when I appealed to those people, even when I looked in their eyes and tried to explain the truth, they could not hear me. From their one-up/one-down perspective, my appeal sounded as foolish as if I were a six-year-old, pleading to take the car out for a spin. So they rejected my plea and continued trying to beat down the boundary I had set. If I responded by getting angry and throwing a fit, they were even more convinced that I’m no older than six.
How, then, do I attain full adulthood? How do any of us get counted as adults?
We cooperate with God, Spirit-to-spirit, in the maturing process he’s tailor-made for each of us.
I had missed a key step in that process, a step Henry Cloud describes this way in his book, Changes That Heal: “coming out from under the one-down relationship that a child has to parents and other adults and coming into an equal standing as an adult on his or her own.”
Until God showed me the truth, I had not realized how much I still remained under this system of thinking – how much I was struggling to find my place somewhere in the world of one-up/one-down.
As I sat before the Lord, undone by what he was revealing, he began to instruct me what to do in response. Here’s what he said:
Keep cooperating with ME in the maturing process. That process is ongoing as long as you live. Yet, you can reach a place of adulthood in this process. In fact, something’s wrong if you don’t. I designed you to grow up spiritually, as surely as I designed you to grow up physically.
Stop agreeing to act as if other adults are your parents and you are still a child. Listening to wise counsel is vastly different from seeking parental approval. Honoring your leaders does not mean looking to them for permission to think, feel or act. Repent for agreeing with a sinful, hierarchical system that categorizes adults as one-up/one-down.
Do not agree that you must live your life one-down. Renounce the lie that says a seminary degree qualifies you for adulthood. Renounce the lie that women are too emotional and too easily deceived to be able to hear the Lord for themselves. Know in the depths of your being: Womanhood does not disqualify a person from adulthood. Refuse to live as if it does.
But also, do not agree to the lie that you’re to be one-up. Repent for every attempt you’ve made to live toward other adults as parent-toward-perennial-child. Beware of relying on a title or position to make you feel grown up. Beware of counting either gender “less than” the other. Refuse the lie that your adulthood hinges on other adults being one-down to you.
Instead, actively affirm the adulthood of others. Ask ME to teach you moment-by-moment, from your heart, to see other people eye-to-eye.
As I’ve begun to walk out what God has showed me, I’ve seen a remarkable thing. Wherever people treat one another with eye-to-eye equality, we’re all affirmed in our adulthood. We all become more adult.
People caught in a one-up/one-down system may still rebuke me for walking in maturity. They may still pressure me to stop. But I’ve renounced agreement with that system. Now I see: The perceptions it creates are illusions. The people to whom I had looked for approval aren’t one-up at all.
As I relinquish all need for permission from anyone other than God, I no longer feel battered by others’ attempts to pressure me. When nothing in me is pleading for their approval, nothing in them has anything to push against.
Adapted from chapter 12, What About Women? A Spirit-to-spirit Exposé, © 2013 Deborah P. Brunt. All rights reserved.
Changes That Heal by Henry Cloud (Zondervan, 1990, 1992), Mobipocket Edition March 2009.