By Wendy Choy-Chan
My elder daughter will turn seventeen in a few months. “Seventeen” sounds so much more mature, ready to conquer the world than “sixteen.” No longer my little baby. For one, she is taller than me now. She takes (borrows) clothes from my wardrobe — well, those she deems fashionable. She is also driving now (thank God we don’t have an extra car for her!), so she is ready to venture out all by herself, literally.
Spiritually, she is growing and finding herself, asking some tough questions: What is her purpose in life — especially when she is planning for college? Why did God place her where she is? What should she make of the suffering and injustice in the world, including the few instances that she has experienced herself? What does it mean to have a relationship with God?
I am grateful that she likes to talk about these subjects with me. She is not looking for me to answer her questions though. I am there to help her process her thoughts, so that she can hear God’s answers more clearly. She is taking ownership of her faith. Believing in the God of her parents no longer suffices; God needs to become her God.
I remember a conversation we had when she was around three:
Caden: Why does Daddy go to work?
Me: Because he needs to earn money to buy food for us
Caden: But we have a lot of food in the fridge!
I miss those easy questions and her simple logic. As she is growing up, I too need to grow up, adjusting my role in her life. When she was little, I held her hand firmly; but now, I am slowly loosening my grip, so that she can learn to hold onto God more tightly.
She needs someone older and wiser, telling her what to do… No, that someone is not a “seventeen going on eighteen” boy. That someone is beyond age and wisdom; that someone is God Himself.
[I thought it would be interesting to hear her point of view too.]
Adjustments: Sixteen Going on Seventeen
By Caden Chan
I cannot believe I will soon be 17. People still think I’m about fourteen, though. It gets annoying sometimes when people ask me if I’m sure I’m old enough to drive, or if I’m really a junior in high school. A lot of times I wish I were entering college already, so that I could have more freedom. But nearly just as equally I wish I could be a child again, adorable and without responsibilities.
Everybody tells me the real world is exciting and fun and fantastic, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve also realized some other aspects of it. They teach you in preschool and kindergarten to share, in elementary school to make friends and not cheat, and in high school to support one another. You’d think that adults would have their morals straight, but I’ve realized that even they can be selfish, harmful, and even cruel to one another. When I first realized this, I was angry at first and defiant, saying that I’d rather not join this world at all if some people in it were so horrible, but I guess eventually I realized that that would just leave me stuck nowhere.
Part of me is excited, and part of me is fearful, but I am also incredibly blessed to have such amazing mentors in my own life who have helped me and will continue to teach me as I grow. But most of all, I’m thankful that I had been taught about God since before I can remember. I know that no matter what is out in the world waiting for me, I have an all-powerful, all-knowing God who loves me and will protect and guide me forever just as he has since the day I was born.
Wendy Choy-Chan came to North America from Hong Kong when she was 15. She is now a full-time mom and part-time student at Fuller Northwest studying for her MA in Theology. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Seattle, WA.