During this past season, growth has seemed far-off in the distance for me. It’s like when the hero in an action movie sees that tiny glimmer of light at the mouth of a dark cave, but there are a million and one obstacles before he gets there. You know what I’m talking about, too. It’s like I’m Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The ark is the growth I’m striving to grasp and I’m doing whatever I can to feel like I’ve reached it. Truthfully, striving to grow has created more exhaustion and more criticism in my own life than I’d like to admit. Even though we know Indiana Jones saves the day, I often don’t feel that same assurance when it comes to my own growth. I feel as though this season of waiting will forever be a plateau: a never-ending desert of flat land.
A few weeks ago, Ryan shared an example of how he’s seen growth in his own life, that looking back at fourteen years, of course we can measure growth. So why do we get caught up in the here and now and not feeling like we are where we desire to be? Why do we treat growth as if it happens overnight? Sure, I could blame our instant-gratification culture and our microwave society, but I still don’t think that’s enough. As I’ve continued to feel stuck on this plateau and unable to grow, I’ve done the hard work of realizing that growth is a process.
And as uninspiring as “process” is, I know that it’s true. For example, I’ve learned I appreciate things more when there’s hard work put into them. I deeply love the people around me because of our intentionality, vulnerability, and the effort it takes to create and maintain a friendship. I appreciate things like my car because it took years to pay off. Because I was, and still am, willing to put hard work into these things, shouldn’t I approach spiritual growth in the same manner? The answer to that question is an overwhelming “yes”. But this, friends, is where I get stuck. I compare my growth to the growth of people around me in areas like careers, relationships, children, and everything else. I have to remind myself that my growth is not your growth, and your growth is not my growth.
So, if you’re feeling bummed, 1) sorry about that, and 2) I want to offer some hope. Even though this season has been rocky, difficult, and way more work than I wanted it to be, I know that God has been shaping me. Once I recognized that God is working out the deeper issues in my life and in the false expectations I had for myself, I knew that growth would be coming soon. Even though I may look at myself in the mirror today and get frustrated that I’m not where I feel I should be, I know this is exactly where I need to be. As God works in me to look more like him, I can’t argue, complain, or get frustrated that I’m operating on my own human time schedule. The growth process is never-ending, always ongoing. The season you’re in is exactly where God wants you to be. Soak that up. You won’t get this season ever again. Enjoy growth as it happens. And if you’re like me where you feel like the plateau will never end or the light in the cave is too far away, that’s okay too. The plateau won’t last forever. Growth is coming.
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