Friday, May 13, 2011


Immaturity can be a major problem in life no matter one's age. An immature individual has a great deal of trouble accepting personal responsibility for any situation or the development of any relationship. This is generally because of their tendency to think that the whole world revolves around their desires and needs. Immaturity is the present day plague of marriages, churches, politics and our culture in general, IMHO. 

I think the overriding characteristic of immaturity very well may be the often accepted, albeit naive, idea that life is intended to be an experience of unending happiness. Unless our circumstances and relationships in life produce that happiness, we assume they are defective and must be changed. [The reverse is also immaturity, namely, that life is never to be happy and there is always only pain and suffering. But that's another blog post.]

We have, as a culture, even bought into the idea that growing old must be pleasant and produce happiness or somehow we have missed out on life as it was intended to be. So sometimes people place unrealistic expectations on themselves as they grow older that leave them searching for people, things, and experiences that they think will somehow help attain their goal of happiness . It doesn't happen, but they keep trying. 

They can become obsessed with a hunger for looks and a body that may indicate, more than anything else, a vain effort to hide from the inevitability of age. This can even lead to multiple surgeries for some because they believe by doing so, they can hold back the aging process. That self centered searching renders them incapable of real life at all. No one is more miserable than an older person who believes happiness has passed them by and refuses to look or act their age. 

So may I say it? If personal happiness is your goal in life, I think it is time to grow up and leave such immaturity far behind... whatever your age. Happiness is, in fact, a by-product of what real life is all about and in some strange way, if personal happiness becomes one's primary focus in life, it becomes so elusive it may never be experienced at all. 

This is nowhere more obvious than when happiness is associated with "being in love."  Marriages suffer greatly unless those involved realize that true marriage is not about "being in love." [happy] It is learning to love one another. Love is an active, transitive verb. An active transitive verb simply means that the word expresses a doable activity and has a direct object that receives the action of that verb. I paint a picture. That sentence shows the meaning well.

So, to say a man loves his wife means he is committed to being involved in some healthy expression towards her in their marriage relationship. His goal in life isn't her making him happy or even him making her happy. It is his being something to her. Love is something mature grownups do no matter the inconvenience of things, the failure of people or the feelings that often have to be fought through. Truly loving others defines and illustrates true maturity.

Don't for a minute think I'm advocating a philosophy that produces a skepticism of pleasure and enjoyment that ultimately creates a stoic realist about life. And I'm certainly far from being cynical about growing older. Not at all. What I am doing however, is attempting to remind us all that true pleasure comes from a refusal to treat one's personal needs and one's own happiness as the highest priority in life

It is a fact that the fallen world is often difficult  and life doesn't always leave us with a lightheartedness that produces giggles like those coming from a little school girl or boy. It can be hard and burdensome even discouraging.

That being so, to enjoy the true pleasure of life, we must view it with maturity. We must grow up. Selfishness always strips life of any true pleasure unless there is an absence of pain which, unfortunately, never happens. But self-giving love always enriches a life no matter circumstances that can sometimes produce an onslaught of pain or heartache for any one of us. 

Jesus is our Pioneer in this kind of life and, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul the Apostle tells us of our guide to Christlikeness. "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you must not look only to your own interests but also to the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus"  [Philippians 2:3-5]

My personal prayer for us all echos the words of the writer of Hebrews..."May we all go on to maturity."


Aussie John said...


I understand Blogger is having some problems, so I am having a third attempt at commenting.

What a well articulated article, and very much needed today.

I can say that, at least half, of those seeking some counsel from me during my years in pastoral ministry had to do with the matter of which you write.

They would invariably tell me that a previous pastor or an evangelist, had given them the assurance that if they became Christians all their troubles would be solved.

Your words, "Happiness is, in fact, a by-product of what real life is all about and in some strange way, if personal happiness becomes one's primary focus in life, it becomes so elusive it may never be experienced at all", echoes the thought which I often tried to convey to folk.

I'm trusting that oldiess, such as you and I, who haven't yet reached the pinnacle, still have a few miles to go on the journey to maturity :)

Thanks again for sound words.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

As always, I get as much out of reading your comments as I do writing the blog post about which you comment. Good stuff.