It is not spring yet, but I am having a clear out of stuff that is no longer useful to have in my life. Some of this is physical clutter such as old lecture notes that I haven’t looked at in over a decade, some is digital stuff like the 2,000 web clippings in Evernote about blogging that I’ve deleted. Books I’ve kept but obviously will never read again, clothes no longer fitting, hobbies not pursued.
Then there are the old dreams and ambitions that have lain mouldering for decades, a few more recently shelved and now accumulating dust. These are taking longer to sift through, many need to be reckoned with before tossing them into the fire:
Why did I ever think that was a possibility?
How did I forget about this one?
Can I not keep a few, just in case?
Just in case of what? In case I get younger? In case I can undo the wasted years? In case these weaknesses, this personality, this life I’ve lived, is not really all I’ve got?
No. They have to go, despite what has been spent on some of those dreams in the past. Time and events cannot be undone, I am not a redeemer – these illusions need to be put to rest and space made to live and breathe in the life I currently have.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
(Ecclesiastes 3:6 ESV, emphasis mine)
It may sound overly dramatic, but what I’m doing is looking at my inner life of desires, motivations, dreams, anxieties, worries, priorities, fears, insecurities and assessing whether they fit who I really am. Are these the things I want to define me or am I wearing a life that is a few sizes too small (or too big)?
Childhood is many years ago for me now, yet plenty of childish things continue to influence how I think and act. I have been a Christian for 27 years but in some ways still think as an unbeliever. I lived single and without responsibilities for a long time, now I consider my wife and children first when faced with choices.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV)
Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. (1 Corinthians 14:20 ESV)
At a superficial level, social expectations enforce a certain level of maturity in adults. Yet many childish ways can endure and I think God expects us to do the work of identifying these to replace them with maturity and wisdom based on His revelation in Christ.
Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. (Titus 2:2 ESV)
The significance of this image is that one of my childhood dreams was to become a scientist. In reality I partially fulfilled that dream but not in the way my child self imagined.