By Jasmine Baucham
I’m Not a Baby
I went out to catch the mail truck yesterday, and the postal worker asked me if I could get my mother to move her car…
Which is actually my car…that I own… because I’m old enough to drive… and conceal a handgun inside… if I wanted to.
(I’m a Texan, so it’s perfectly normal to me to talk about concealed carrying license age instead of drinking age).
I just smiled at her, the same way I smiled at the woman at the airport who told me I didn’t have to show her my ID to board the plane, the same way I smiled at the teacher who asked me if I was on campus to interview for a spot in the senior class when I was actually there for a sub job, the same way I politely smile at 13 year old boys who throw me the nod.
Apparently, I have a young face, which I’m told is a good thing.
But, sometimes, it doesn’t feel like a good thing. I just want to be taken seriously! I just want to be seen as an adult! I just want you to respect me.
A Common Ailment
Apparently, I’ve been living under a rock, because regardless of an active Twitter feed, an Instagram account, and a Facebook page, I missed Miley Cyrus’s scandalous performance at the VMAs until last night.
My exposure to Miley’s antics occurred through the various reactions of others -the outrage that such a “little girl” would hop up on stage and make such a sexual spectacle of herself. And though many have blamed the hyper-sexualized nature of our culture for what went down on that stage, I tend to see where Cyrus and the fallen Disney girls who have come before her are coming from: they don’t want to be little girls anymore.
An Unwitting Role Model
I am only a couple of years older than Miley Cyrus, so I’m still young enough to feel a bit indignant on her behalf when people expect her to still be acting like Hannah Montana. She’s weathered a life of fame, public growing pains, and public heartache enough to be considered as more than the 13 year old pop princess/everyday girl that she portrayed on the Disney channel several years ago.
The discomfort was similar when Brittany Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Lindsay Lohan were trying to shed the little girl images that seemed to follow them wherever they went: the public didn’t want to see them as sex symbols when we were used to viewing them as sweetly virginal role models.
Except they never really were role models, nor were they marketed as such. They were marketed as “average” girls who struggled with the exact same things other girls do: boy problems, relational strain with parents, pesky siblings, and a really terrible blonde wig.
Okay, maybe not the wig.
But just like the rest of us, eventually, they wanted to grow up.
In Defense of Innocence
Paul’s advice to Timothy, who may have seemed much too young to serve the church, the same way I seem too young to teach, to drive, or to pose a security threat at an airport, was: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
He doesn’t tell Timothy to swagger around demanding respect, somewhat like the 2 year old who stamps his foot and demands to be acknowledged as a grownup. He doesn’t tell Timothy to boast about how he is way more experienced than he seems, somewhat like the 20 year old who gyrates on stage to convince the masses that she knows what she’s doing in the bedroom.
He tells Timothy to be an example of maturity, of love, of faith, and of purity. He tells Timothy how to serve.
Our culture has raised masses of young women who despise innocence. We want to stand up and prove that we know what we’re doing, that we’ve got more life experience than other people think, that we can hold our own.
What Is a Grown Up?
Baby faces fade. Experience comes. Growth occurs. There is no need to force it, either by demanding that others take us seriously with our words or trying to show them how seriously they should take us by our actions.
In fact, love, which Paul tells Timothy to be an example in, doesn’t demand anything (1 Corinthians 13:5). Love is long-suffering, unassuming, and service-oriented. Love realizes that we have a lot of growing up to do, and that we don’t have all of the answers (1 Corinthians 13:11-12).
Miley Cyrus is suffering from a common malady: all little girls want to grow up.
I know how that feels.
But, in Christ, our journey to maturity can be a beautiful, gentle sight to behold, not a jarring, televised spectacle that actively demands, but a service-geared growth that happens all on its own.
Focus on carrying yourself like the prized daughter of a holy King. Focus on serving, and not how you can be served. Gear your heart towards purity, and not proving, in the words of another pop princess who scandalized us, “I’m not that innocent.” Focus on nurturing the faith that will withstand you through very grownup trials. Focus on nurturing a heart of purity.
Focus on the finished work of Christ, which allows you to walk in all of these things.
And people will see you as a grownup. I promise.
Most of the time.
Just you wait.
Jasmine Baucham is the oldest of Voddie and Bridget Baucham’s eight children. She is a homeschool graduate, holds a BA in English Literature, and is currently pursuing an Master of Arts(Biblical Studies) at Reformed Theological Seminary in Houston. Jasmine currently serves as a fifth grade teacher at a classical/university model school in Houston. She is the author of Joyfully at Home, and loves living at home where she continues to learn from her mother, enjoy her siblings, and assist her father and others in research.
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