By Hannah Whatley

When I was a child, I spoke as a child;

I acted and thought and felt as a child,

But then I turned seventeen.


Seventeen—Oh, the great and glorious mystery,

Between the realms of infancy and maturity;

The questions of life that shape our future history

Are laid unadorned before us—Oh, the treachery

Of life! It offers dreams, adventures, and stories

Of hope, of freedom, of love, of passion and glory;

Childhood passes blissfully by; we think victory

Will come to us because we wake up in the morning.

Unaware are we of the future tears, sweat, and blood

It will take to learn if our next step brings dry land or mud.

Our lives become enigmas, riddles misunderstood:

“If we could, then we should, and if we will, then we would.”

Alas! What hope or peace can there possibly be

For the creature suspended twixt sixteen and eighteen?

Where can an answer to this age-old question be seen?

Oh the blessed, infuriating age of seventeen!

But now, my soul, the great Way-Truth-Life enters the room;

He alone is the world’s song, the unending tune;

He alone is the sun for the day, the night’s one moon;

He lived the way, died as the truth, and brought life from the tomb.

He has always held the future in His gentle hands,

And never ceases to laugh with me, and understand

Where my wild, roving heart goes, what mysterious lands

My mind wanders to. He’s not moved by the shifting sands

Of the age of seventeen.

hannah-whatleyHannah Whatley is a homeschooled senior who loves writing but knows that she has a long way to go in learning the art. When she writes, she tries to remember what a wise woman of God once told her: “Your writing is not from much study, not from your head, but your heart.” She has been a believer for most of her life, thanks to Jesus “knocking on her heart door” and her parents’ devoted teaching. She lives in Mississippi with her parents and her dog, TJ, and enjoys dancing, playing violin, and acting out Shakespeare with her best friend, Shelby, in Shelby’s barn loft.

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  1. I think this applies to eighteen and nineteen too. 😉

    Beautiful poem, Hannah.

  2. Having just come out of seventeen and being stuck still trying to wrap my head around eighteen, I definitely relate. 😛 Thank you for this. It’s beautiful. I love the simplicity in its depth. 😉

    • I’m so glad, Kate; it’s so awesome to know that people take away something meaningful to their own life from my writing. I so appreciate your compliment!

  3. “Oh, the blessed, infuriating age of seventeen!” Oh, how well you captured it 🙂 And oh, how perfect the last verse is. “He is not moved by the shifting sands of the age of seventeen” – or any age. This is beautiful, Hannah 🙂

    • Haha! Thank you so much, Cindy; I really appreciate that. I agree! It is true of any age; I’ve experienced that in my own life. I’m so glad you have too! : )

  4. Your expression of the struggles of being seventeen was amazing! Thank you for sharing, Hannah.

  5. Beautiful!

  6. This. Is. So. Accurate.
    Glad to know someone else feels the same! Very few people understand anymore; people usually go with the tween misfit image, but I really do think that 17 is more accurate. ;P
    We’re growing up– but the adults still look on us as children. We want to stay young forever– but the young ones look up to us as adults. *screams of agony* WHY CAN’T IT BE A LITTLE MORE SIMPLE???
    *deep breath* Okay. Anyway, thanks so much for sharing; I really enjoyed this, and the last paragraph was especially encouraging! It is so true, and so amazing to think that our LORD was once a seventeen year old like us.
    Like us, except He was perfect. Though He went through all the same struggles, He never gave into their temptations.
    And that’s why He’s worthy of our worship.

    • Corissa, I know exactly what you mean. And the tween years are difficult, but in a totally different way than seventeen (and eighteen and nineteen as Daeus mentioned).
      I so agree; sometimes I wish it were more simple! But hey, at least once we go through the process of growing old (in body, never at heart) and dying, we DO become young forever! So we as believers have a win-win! : )
      You really have a lot of insight; thank you for sharing your thoughts with me on God. They resonate with me. <3

  7. I LOVE LOVE LOVE! How beautiful, so full of hope and relatable for any age!

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