What is it about being a grown-up that makes it so hard to be yourself?
My little brother’s 7th birthday party was ten years ago. It was held at a really fantastic place called BounceU— the stuff kid dreams are made of. We spent that whole Saturday morning jumping and sliding and bouncing through a room full of giant inflatables. Y’all, I wore myself out. And it was awesome! I’ll never get as much exercise as I did that day ever for the rest of my life. But I didn’t even know it was such a workout because wow it was fun!! I played so hard that when it was time for my brother to open presents, my hair was a disaster and my face was practically purple. And I was so, so happy.
I was thinking about that party the other day, about how much fun I had, and how messy and ridiculous I looked, and I realized— that day, 10 year old Amelia didn’t care one single bit what anybody thought about her. She just played and ran and bounced her heart out. It didn’t matter to me that I might have looked a little too excited or that my hair was starting resemble a mad scientist’s or that my face was turning the color of a overripe tomato. I never worried about what other people were thinking about me or about what I looked like. I was just 100% happy to be myself. No worries. No insecurities. No comparisons.
How different that is from the world I’m living in today. A world of constant “does this outfit look okay?” and “can you take another picture, I look weird,” a world where not a hair can be out of place, where too much time is spent wondering what she thinks of you and judging what you think of her and let’s not even throw in what he could be thinking too.
When did we lose the joy of bouncing without fear? When did growing up mean that we had to bury every carefree minute of being wonderfully, uniquely, crazily happy under a thin disguise of perfect outfits and a carefully curated Instagram feed? What is it about being a grown-up that makes it so hard to be yourself?
Matthew 18:1-4 “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”
How can you “become as little children”? The joy of being a child is innocence, freedom, a spirit that’s quick to forgive, an unprejudiced view of people, an honest and loving and sweet soul. The joy of a being a child is the freedom to dream whatever you want to dream, to see the world with wide open arms, and to be yourself.
Jesus looked at a group of stubborn, prideful grown-ups who were bent on comparing themselves to others, who had just asked Him “Who is the greatest?” And Jesus, undoubtedly to their great surprise, brought a little child to them and said unless you change and assume the demeanor of this child, you cannot be part of the kingdom I am building.
How long are we going to let insecurities and comparison and fear keep us from doing the work of the Kingdom? God created you, with your face and your hair and your laugh and your every unique quality just exactly as you were meant to be. He designed you beautifully. He is the maker of good things, and He made you. And He made you with a desire to know Him, and a capacity to experience every good gift He wants to give you— a life of love, joy, fearlessness, and peace that surpasses understanding. And He made you to be part of the Kingdom, His church, and to be a diligent worker within it.
Insecurity, worry, comparison, and fear don’t line up in a life that is filled with Christ. Oh, they are present. Jesus warned us that the father of lies would make his every effort to bring us down. But Jesus said, “I am the Truth.” And the Truth is that child-like faith—humble, trusting, innocent, joyful faith— is what God desires most in us.
So what do you plan to do about it? What will you do with a Savior that says, “Let the little children come to me”?
I say, go for it! Live like you did when you didn’t care that anyone was watching. Live like a child! Live like you’re bouncing your way through an inflatables paradise— with great joy and love and laughter. Be free to be who you are in Jesus. Let your hair look a mess. Take happy pictures with your friends without bothering what you look like. Post every blurry, poorly edited, unfiltered photo on Instagram if you want. And most of all, live a true faith. A faith that is so unafraid to live for Jesus that you couldn’t care less if people think you’re weird or crazy for doing so. A faith that is so ridiculously joyful because of who He is and what He has done that it can’t be contained. A smiling, sharing, loving, genuine faith. A humble, obedient, trusting, peaceful faith.
That’s the life your gracious Father wants for you. It certainly won’t be perfect. It won’t be free of struggle or heartache or tears. But it can be real. And in Him, it can be so easy to be yourself.
Perhaps growing up in Christ is really about growing more and more into the children He wants us to be.
1 John 3:1 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”