During my preteen and younger teen years (i.e. middle school and perhaps freshman year of high school), I always thought I had a sound moral compass. And, relatively speaking, I did.
But now, in retrospect, I see the areas in which I was lacking. (And golly, I’m sure I’m still lacking today, as we all are!) Today, I have some young friends who are at this awkward age of discovering the self. And I see in them the same exact things I see in the younger me.
The maturity modern society teaches is very different from the maturity we can infer from the teachings of the Church. Preteens and young teens are at such a susceptible age– they’ve gotten their first taste of self-awareness: they want to figure out the world and their place in it. And where do they find answers? Well, they start with the world around them, which is NOT a good influence. But they don’t always realize that. I didn’t, anyway.
Marks of Maturity According to Society:
-crass language, swearing even (While I never actually swore around others during this awkward time, occasionally I would swear in private and in my diary. LOL- I can’t see myself ever doing that today! That kind of talk just doesn’t give glory to God!)
-girls, show off your bodies (I didn’t do this because I knew it was wrong…but I sort of wished I could. Never acted on it though.)
-Sense of Invincibility (The modern world does NOT teach that you need God.)
-Strive to be rich and famous (This was probably what I had the most issues with at that vulnerable age. The fame part mostly. I felt like if I didn’t do something amazing in my lifetime, I wasn’t special. But everyone has a purpose even if it isn’t something that makes you famous. And God loves you anyway.)
Society doesn’t teach us true maturity. I think you have to undo the “maturity” of the world in yourself to attain actual
maturity. (Or if you’re super-fortunate, you never even embraced the world in the first place.)
Marks of True Maturity:
-You realize how much you need God.
-You have clear and unambiguous morals. You don’t have to decide on the spot how you will handle certain sticky situations. Instead, you know what you believe in, and you follow that.
-You can withstand the pressures of the world without falling into them.
Can you teach someone to be truly mature? I honestly don’t think so. I think that has to come from the Holy Spirit working in that person.