A friend just asked me about this. Specifically if post-grad is different than college, if the feelings are different.
Is the air is clearer or murkier, softer or thicker? More pristine; more confusing? Have I arrived in the Promised Land?
I told her that I had to Facetime my family for my little brother’s tenth birthday. I watched him score the final two points of his basketball game through a pixelated screen. When I called him later that night he told me that being ten hadn’t sunk in yet. Not fully, at least.
And the funny thing is that not much has changed. Twenty-three hasn’t fully sunk in for me, either.
It’s just little chips of everything, compiling and crossing and blending one on another. Emotions gather together for a dinner party, and I can't tell who's cooking the main course.
I told my friend every answer is different. Every life is unique.
* * *
The common thread in life change seems to be its different-ness. Whether for the better or for the worse, life is an irrevocably foreign territory than it was only weeks, days, moments before.
Nine-year-olds turn ten and twenty-two-year-olds turn twenty-three and an invisible wall is scaled and vaulted. Full-time jobs and full-time relationships. Buying credit cards and considering down payments. First dates and covering the tab and falling in love. Each a different divide, each an unknowable reality.
It all just seems so foreign, unknown, intimidating. It feels like the Israelites being promised milk and honey but only seeing the giants.
The Promised Land may be promised, but its walls stand awfully high. Its inhabitants seem awfully foreign.
* * *
But it also occurs to me, as I continue talking with my friend, that the players in this game of change are the same.
Excitement, anguish, loneliness, comfort.
The excitement I felt about my birthday as a ten year old.
The anguish of my dog, Pocket, running away and being hit by a car.
The loneliness of my bedroom on a summer day with no plans.
The comfort of reading and talking with my mom and eating a big meal with loved ones.
The same feelings remain; they have just donned adult pants and coats and ties. They now use words like “colloquial” and “budget sheets.” Some are even attempting to grow facial hair in an effort to be seen more “mature” (I’m looking at you, curiosity).
They have gotten dressed up in different ways, but they are still the same companions I’ve had for forever. The same companions my brother had when he was nine two days ago and has now that he’s ten.
I march once, twice, three times around this Promised Land, with its wall of change, trying hard not to take forty years to do it.
I look to my right and see my little brother, all of ten-years-old, still trying to feel ten. I am still trying to feel twenty-three.
We march together, in the common joy of birthdays and the common loneliness of growing older.
It seems we are both feeling the similar feelings of fear and excitement and bewilderment and wonder.
* * *
We read that Jesus experienced life-change and the gamut of emotions plenty in the Scriptures.
He grew in wisdom in stature.
He talked with his friends.
He began his ministry.
He cried in the garden. He transfigured there too.
And the entire time he accepted the life that came. He accepted the Father’s will, with its excitement and anguish and loneliness and comfort.
He marched around that wall, embracing all of thirty-three, and expected it to fall. He saw the Promised Land and didn’t allow the giants to detract his eye line.
He accepted his lifelong companions of emotions and transcended them through faith in the God who transcends.
Faith in the Father who comforts.
Faith in the One who heals.
And eventually, the walls did fall because he agreed to fall too.
He forgave on the cross. The veil tore and the wall crumbled.
And then, from beneath the rubble, my ten-year-old brother and my twenty-three-year-old eyes watched as he emerged. New. Fresh. Redeemed.
He is risen.
He emerges still.
* * *
So I guess my answer to my friend ended up being that yes, life outside of college and in the new world of adulthood is different, but my companion-emotions are the same, this time just a bit more dressed up in nine-to-five attire. They are the same. And so is God.
And so my ten-year-old brother and I learn to embrace life amidst the torn down walls. We both pursue the promise for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus. We both pursue that in our own way with the same emotions.
Our emotions walk with us, and so does God.
And God is still in the business of transcendence and redemption.
He is still in the business of breaking down walls.