by Emmarie May M. Bonganciso | February 2, 2022
Have you ever had one of those dreams where some monster or bad guy is chasing you and you try to run as fast as you can but for some reason, every part of you is moving in slow motion? You spend much of your perceived strength, desperate to move but you’ve barely covered an inch of progress.
That is often how it feels to be a young adult. You look around you and see people falling in love, having babies, moving to new cities, having breakthroughs in their careers. Meanwhile, it seems like you’re in slow motion. Dust gathers in your hair because you’re still where you have always been.
I’m a few months shy of stepping into my twenties and it already looks like my welcoming party comes in the form of crises. I’m suddenly no longer the self-secure teenager who thought she knew exactly what she wanted, who she wanted, and how. But I’ve become a young woman with one foot slowly stepping forward to the realities of bills and expenses, and the other foot still wading through my inexperience and immaturity. Here comes the cliched theme of every coming-of-age movie where the main character is driven by her internal search for identity and a sense of community. The beauty of films like these lies in the fact that it’s neatly packaged for our consumption. They make sure to give what we all hope to see and what we hope to have in our own lives: a satisfactory end, a redemption. But life is often not neatly tied in a bow for us to simply unwrap.
The best stories we know are able to capture a core of the human experience and that is want. We want the extraordinary because ordinary is all we’ve ever known. We want the radical, the revolutionary, the greatness. We want fulfillment and meaning. But there is one redemption story that overrides them all. And the reason for this is that it doesn’t start with our wants. It starts with an eternal God and His pure will for creation, the fall of man and the curse of sin that beset everything made, a promise of redemption fulfilled through a chosen one, and the full restoration of all things broken.
So in light of that, where do we go from here?
You are simply not the main character.
Many have gawked at this and felt offended. But the world does not revolve around you. It’s truly a tough pill to swallow as it pierces the sense of entitlement we have to assume that we are in essence, good people and therefore only deserve good things. But holding to such an idea does not conform to the reality we live in. We betray ourselves in such a lie. No one is ever really “good”. There is always a touch of conceit, a touch of greed, a touch of vanity and so much more. When we come confronted with our sin and the accountability we have before God, we are brought low and humbled. Having a low view of divine authority will only lead to a low view of sin, and vice versa.
The overarching story we live in is in God’s great story of redemption, not prosperity for you, but redemption from the sin that has bound you to desire for nothing but full autonomy without the consequences. We are the ones in need of saving — the traitor, the villain, the lost. But we are not the main character.
Chew your food and breathe.
Our fast-paced society today has made us overstimulated with so much of the media telling you that you need more and you need better. With the abundance of content and resources for everything and anything, we are often crippled just by how much freedom we’re given to pick and choose. But just as we should chew our food properly to get the most out of it, so should we take the time to sift through what we hear and see every day. We know now that not everything in the media is true nor helpful so critically discern what you pay attention to. Your attention is the most coveted thing in the world because it’s what eventually leads you to take action. Invest it wisely.
Take a break, breathe. And at least once, be mindful of where you are now – not what your friends are sharing online, not what the people you follow on TikTok are doing, not the videos you scroll through. But look at how you’re living and pay attention to how you’re thinking. When we’re intoxicated and made idle by shifting patterns and trends, it’s so easy to breed discontentment. Ordinary slowly becomes degrading because we’re made to believe it’s something we should never be. But God gives grace primarily through the ordinary. The reading and preaching of the Word needs no music concert, no fancy lights, no giant stadium to take effect in a person’s life, yet it is in these ordinary means that God ordained His people to know, love, and live in truth. And the truth, no matter how ordinarily delivered is renewing and transformative, especially to us who are naturally inclined to hate the truth.
The highs and lows of adulthood are but a piece to the mosaic of a broken world hungry for a cure they do not want. We want redemption. We want an answer to fill whatever void we have. But we want it on our own terms, outside and apart from God. And that’s the ultimate root of all our problems. Like a sick child wanting to recover from his fever but shutting his mouth from the medicine he needs to take.
It’s nothing new to grow anxious about an unfolding season such as your twenties. The best stories we know capture the core of human nature. But the grand story of redemption captures the core of what it means to live under the sovereignty of God. So chew what you consume. Take a breath. And take away the burden of being the main character of this world. Sometimes, the best realizations come to mind when we’re ordinarily still. We all feel like we’re in that slow-motion nightmare at some point. But to break free from that is to wake up and live in light of the great, overarching story that has redeemed and will ultimately restore.