All throughout our lives it seems like we’re always looking toward the future. Since I was young, I have always imagined what life would be like when I grew up. What would I look like? Who will I marry? Who will I become? Back then, anything seemed possible.

The idea of growing older tantalizes us with promises of wealth, freedom, and control over our own lives. When you’re young, it always seems as if the adults get all the perks and privileges. They get to drive, vote, pick out their own clothes, and even dictate their own bedtimes! The autonomy afforded to adults is what draws young people toward the desire to grow up. However, as we start to age, we also begin to realize how much we wish we savored our youth a little more. This is because we romanticize the idea of growing older, not growing up. While there are many advantages that come with age, we must recognize that with age also comes responsibility. Unfortunately, we don’t know it until it comes.

Sometimes it just randomly hits me: this is life. Growing up, I’ve had to deal with new situations and circumstances that I never had to worry about before: paying my own bills, purchasing a car, saving for retirement. Just thinking about these things makes my head hurt. Yet, even as I dread tasks such as filing my own taxes or even getting an oil change, I relish knowing that these (somewhat) uncomfortable moments are all part of something bigger than myself. As I continue to be stretched by the challenges and hardships that accompany adult life, the growing pains of it all serve as a reminder that I’m getting closer to where God wants me to be.

Part of the journey is knowing that there is a promise in the pain. The way God orchestrates our lives, we find ourselves surrounded with an abundance of opportunities to continuously grow in Him and become more like Jesus. This kind of transformation requires us to step into the unknown, fully trusting that God will meet us amid our discomfort, our weaknesses, and our fears. From there, we can allow Him to do the work He desires to do through us.

In my own experience, growth has been much of letting go of old habits, attitudes, and desires. It means staying consistent in my prayer times and holding myself accountable to God’s Word. It looks like showing up for those in need and making personal sacrifices whenever necessary. The more I submit to these practices, the less resistance I feel when change comes along. At the same time, obeying God has allowed me to feel more at peace when I encounter unfamiliar territory. Now, as I yield to life’s challenges, I can power through with the confidence that God will see me through until the end. No matter how hard life gets, I can take joy in knowing that He is faithful, always has been, and always will be. Growing up is painful, but in the end, it produces an endurance of faith and an intimacy with God that is of immeasurable value and strength.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4