Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Adulthood (07/30/09)
TITLE: Spiritual Maturity
By Jacob Drollinger
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It seems that my first and foremost goal in life has been to please my father, to make him proud of me. Even now, at the age of thirty-eight, I am still trying to impress the man who gave me his name. Now that I have reached adulthood, the struggle continues.
I have never been the best, great, or even really good at anything. I have, truth be told, perpetually taken second or third place. It’s not as if his expectations for me were very high; he never pushed me to succeed. He never demanded perfection, only that I give whatever I tried a chance. “You can’t just give up, you haven’t even tried it yet,” he would always say as it pertained to something as insignificant as trying a certain flavor of salad dressing, or something as important as attending college.
I have tried in the recent past to get a feeling for what he thinks of what I have done with my life. I wrote him a letter asking, “Dad, have I made you proud of me?" His response was a vague one. “I think you’ve done the best you could, with the hand you’ve been dealt.” Not, “You’ve made me so proud of you, my boy,” or even, “To be honest with you, I don’t think you’ve accomplished all you could have.” His reply had no motivating effect at all. It did not compel me to want to keep on doing what I do, nor did it make me wish I was doing more.
Becoming an adult was a very difficult process for me. As a young man, I was sheltered, for whatever reason, from the real world. He once asked me, “How do you not know how an internal combustion engine works?” after my first car simply conked out on me. I felt like answering with a question, “Aren’t dads supposed to teach their sons about how engines work? It’s because you never taught me, dad.” Things such as how air conditioners cooled the air and what an individual retirement account was remained a mystery to me.
Next to my dad, I am physically a very small man. No matter how mature in stature I get, I will always be a scrawny little boy. Years ago he and I would arm wrestle, and of course he would let me think I was winning before slowly bending my arm over. I am fairly certain that if we were to lock hands today, I would be able to throw him down. But I am terrified to try, scared that I would find out that I still don’t have the strength that an adult man should.
He is the smartest person I know. He is a master of one language, that being English. I know infinitely more than he does about math, probably more about science, and possibly more about the arts. Yet the one subject that he is an expert in makes him a far more learned man than I. I will forever be in his shadow, and I will never be an intellectual adult because I will never be able to write as well as he does.
Now, being married, having a daughter, and owning my own home still don’t feel like enough. Because no matter how hard I try, I can not come close to being the husband, the father, or the master of the house that he was.
I consider myself to be a born-again Christian, a spiritually mature person. My dad, while professing a belief in God, has never had a personal relationship with the Son of God. I can speak to the Lord whenever I wish, but my father must rely on himself, on his own understanding. He was born on January 16, 1937, and has never been born again. Unless I can reach him by letting my life speak to him, he will quite possibly never become spiritually mature. I can not make the same mistakes he has made. I must keep encouraging him to believe and can not withhold the knowledge of the truth. I have to help my father reach adulthood in the one area I can, and forget all of the places and all of the reasons why I have not grown up.
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