In the Christian New Testament there is a story that takes place not long after Jesus’s crucifixion. It’s a scene where Peter and his friends have been out all night working hard fishing without catching a thing.
Just days before, they had witnessed the traumatic trial and execution of Jesus (their friend and mentor). During those days, Peter betrayed his friend, denying three times that he even knew Jesus. Jesus, having come back from the dead, goes early the next morning and finds Peter and friends who have gone back to their work as fishermen. It seems that working was Peter’s chosen strategy for coping with his feelings of sadness, loneliness, shame, and guilt. (We are all like that sometimes; to cope with how hard life can be we hide in our work and good works.)
After calling them to shore, Jesus cooks some fish and bread and they all eat together. Then a conversation ensues between Peter and Jesus. Jesus three time asks Peter if he loves him and then says,
Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.
To paraphrase, Jesus, says, “Do you love me? Good. Because I have job for you to do.”
Peter replies says, “Tell me! I’ll do it.”
And Jesus basically says, “You need to face yourself and deal with it. You don’t always know what it best for yourself.
When we are young, we enjoy a freedom to go wherever our whims takes us. We believe we are invincible and flawless and the possibilities are endless (this is as true for people as it is for relationships). The task of maturity is to face that problems we have don’t go away by just ignoring them or numbing them. To heal, change, and grow means having the courage to examine ourselves with another, be honest with what we see, and risk being led. The choice for maturity is recognizing we don’t have all the answers.
Minimally, it could mean stopping your coping mechanisms of depression, addiction, anxiety, shame and contempt and be willing to be led in a different direction.