What age is maturity? 20, 35, 70? Many days I do not act or feel like I am any more mature than a thirteen-year-old. On others, I carry the weight of the world, evident in my wrinkles, drooping shoulders, and overall fatigue. I believe maturity is a constant growth device triggered by life experiences. Some people gain those early and some struggle to accept them and bathe in immaturity a while longer.
This week I thought about Elizabeth Elliott Lestarjette in her role as heroine in all five of the Revolutionary Faith novels. I tried to put myself in her shoes and circumstances. I really do not think I would have fared as well as Elizabeth. But perhaps when faced with the circumstances, my personality flaws would have matured more rapidly to cover my insecurities.
Elizabeth enters the scene as an eighteen-year-old young lady in 1772, Charles Town. Marriageable age. Studious. Garden and cat lover. Musician (teacher). Loving, obedient daughter. Sister and friend. Upper-middle class family. On any normal day, I would guess her to behave as an average teen. What made her maturity level elevate?
The Pre-Revolution decision—
Loyalist or Patriot
The series spans ten years, until Elizabeth is twenty-eight. I look back to my twenties, and I do not shine with any outstanding level of maturity. Why does Elizabeth’s level rank higher than her years?
The American Revolution
in her hometown
I watch the news of war. She lived it.
I might have pinched pennies for groceries. She managed with hoarded food.
I teach school. Her school closed.
I have two children. She did, too, but she had to protect them with her life.
My husband works. Hers impoverished them by supplying the war effort.
I lock my doors. She lived with blackout drapes and curfews with a pistol by her side.
It intrigues me to wonder about the effects of war and famine, of disease and poverty, of death and prison on a young family. Did Elizabeth age physically? Did her face show the signs of distress? Did her mind collapse into a mode of survival with no intellectual outlet? Did her emotions plummet into depression and woes?
My theory after living for many more than 28 years is that the human experience of living takes on a day-to-day existence when faced with calamity. We have a pandemic with all its shortcomings, of which many are emotional. Elizabeth had a war, including a siege and occupation. The big picture with no answers is too much, too daunting, too unbelievable. It’s doable if in little pieces.
I look at the covers of my books to Elizabeth as a young, dreamy, carefree girl to a young, mature woman. Ten years with the experience of a much older woman. I’ve been challenged by Elizabeth—by all women facing the unknown, all pioneers in history. I strive to be a mature being who somehow maintains a portion of the fun-loving, spontaneous, joyful moments.
Please follow Elizabeth on her journey in the Revolutionary Faith series.
Wait for Me (#5) will be released February 9!
Can you think of other characters that have “matured” in the book(s)?