“What? Are you kidding me?! You can’t sell the house!” My friend was heartbroken when her parents announced they would soon be staking a For Sale by Owner sign in their front lawn, but she wasn’t upset for the normal reasons. She wouldn’t have to change schools or make new friends. No, my thirty-year-old friend, married with two kids and living in a different state than her parents, was upset because they were selling what she felt to be all of her childhood memories. “They are selling my childhood, Scarlet. It’s where I grew up, where every memory is held. If you go in that garage today, you will see pencil marks on the wall where every six months my sister and I were measured. You can look at the progress, the growth, all that life lived.”
Can you relate? Was your childhood a happy one? Or one that you try to push down in your thoughts and are relieved that you will never have to be in the midst of again? No matter how our individual childhoods differ, we all have one fact in common. As we progressed through our pre-adult years, we were growing. Each year we were taller than the one before, each year we probably weighed more and had outgrown a shoe size and our teeth configuration changes were also declaring growth. As we hit our adulthood size, no longer could our height bursts be seen and acknowledged with shock and awe by our distant relatives’ yearly observations.
And now we are adults. Same shoe size, same height, same permanent molars. And yet if there was a way to measure our internal spiritual growth, what would be seen? Are we the same guy we were ten years ago? Are we still wrestling with that gossip habit, dismissing it with the acceptance of “that’s just the way I am”? Or maybe it’s an area of always having to be in control . . . MY way or the highway! I just want to challenge and encourage all of us believers today that spiritual growth is part of our spiritual DNA. As we walk with the Lord throughout the years, we should be noticing a difference in our spiritual maturity. Just like a newborn’s diaper smell is somewhat tolerable, when that kid hits three years old, everyone in the room is ready for the potty training to be mastered.
I love watching the people in my life change right in front of me. Family arguments that used to arise over a specific topic have now become mute. Gifts of leadership are being displayed. Fresh discussions with friends about what new aspect God has been revealing to them challenge me. Their growth inspires me to grow.
But how? How do I grunt out growth? Just like a child can’t force her big front tooth to grow or a teenager can’t stretch himself three inches taller, the same is true in our spiritual growth. Our job is to surrender all areas of our lives to Him and abide in Him. When we are spending time in His word and prayer, before we know it we are looking and acting differently than we did the year before. He does the work and the pruning of the plant of our lives.
So whether your growth as a child was surrounded by adults who were great caretakers or those who were negligent, you can rest assured that your spiritual growth is being nurtured and tenderly taken care of by the great and awesome God and divine parent. I can’t wait until the next time we see each other so we can gasp and report, “WOW! You sure have grown!”