"And what do YOU want to be when you grow up?"
We are all asked that at some point, or many points, in our development, but for the most part, it stops being serious around 12, and it stops being a joke around 25, after which we don't hear it much at all.
Why is that?
Because when we reach physical maturity, we are considered, at a superficial level, to be 'grown up.' Any further inquiries about a future 'grown-up' seem condescending, as though talking to the former small child. The future is now. Your completion, if not your optimization, is assumed.
I disagree, not because I am condescending, although I can be. I differ because, until I started to feel old, I never felt grown up. This was not too long ago, when I started to pay attention to the crumbling ruin of my once lithe, athletic physique. I never felt 'finished.'
In spite of my increasingly obvious physical decay, in my mind, I am that same goofy guy trying to figure out how to do - everything. I feel worn and tired and beat on, in some ways, but I do not feel 'finished.' Not even close.
However, I am 37 years older, and while I am not exactly wise, through (often bitter) experience, I am able to discern a few things, including:
When someone is pushing my buttons
When I am stretching toward something unworthy of me and my talents
Related, most things are unworthy of me or my talents. Not everything is good for everyone. One size does not fit all.
When I have forgotten salt in the mashed potatoes. Well, it's important to me...
When a stage of life is over (still working on seeing that before the ride ends)
When I fail to let God direct my steps
This last one is important. God will use anything, (even my disobedience) or anyone (even unrepentant sinners) to mold me, and He is patient and persistent. We are an intricate mosaic of all of our experiences, thoughts, triumphs and setbacks. We're a mosaic of all the people we've met, some positive, some not. God is the artist. You are His masterpiece.
He does not force me to follow His direction. His guidance comes in the forms of suggestions, hints or notions that cross my mind. His guidance is voluntary. It is often the hard way, the complex way, the painful way. He uses everything for our good, even things that seem awful. But it's my choice. And my consequences.
The bad news is that the enemy works in a similar way, but in the opposite direction. He tempts. He competes and argues with the guidance of God. He suggests easy ways to do hard things. He suggests immediate gratification, immediate pleasure, and usually, sin. He even disguises his temptations as God's. Giving the devil his due, he is good at temptation.
Satan's ethics are zero. His only goal is to ruin you, leading you to sin and away from God. And if he can't get you to actually sin, he will distract you with nonsense that is beneath you, wasting hours of what could have been productive living. All he wants is to make sure you die without finding Jesus. It's like a game of keep-away.
The good news is, God knows all of this. And He's not worried. No matter what calamity Satan brings on, God will turn it into a good thing for you. A door closing can be a blessing. Rejection, failure, accidents, health problems, career crises, relationship woes and every other thing that brings stress, pain, worry, disappointment and doubt? God uses it all for your good. For your ultimate blessing.
Will you see problems and setbacks as 'good for me' immediately? Maybe not. In fact, probably not. But you will eventually see. Trust Him.
God is playing a long game. He wants you to trust Him in all you do. He will take incremental progress, because his timeline is eternal. He doesn't need to 'finish' you during this lifetime. And he doesn't worry about failure. Yours, or his. He knows that His masterpiece will be created, and finished in His perfect timing. Trust Him.
Are people perfect when they die? No, not yet. But if they died with their sins forgiven - that is, they confessed them and were sincerely contrite - then they are cloaked in the spotlessness of Jesus and the salvation He earned for us on the Cross. And they are admitted to Heaven.
The devil, by contrast, is in a big hurry. He has got to keep you from saying 'Yes' to Jesus for your entire life. It's only 80 or 90 years to keep you away from your savior, so you can instead spend eternity in constant agony, with him.
You keep the devil in constant agony by trusting and sticking close to Jesus. His only reason for being is to prevent your finding and trusting and loving Jesus.