Sunday, January 22, 2012

Growing Pains

My baby brother is growing so fast. He went from diapers to size 13 shoes in what seems like an instant. Last year, he had such a massive growth spurt that he was in physical pain, causing him to don crutches for awhile.

Talk about growing pains.

My dear friend Emily posted an encouraging comment on a recent blog post of mine about how she's loved seeing me grow. I couldn't help but think, This is growth? Because it feels more like I'm bumbling along blindly. It takes all my courage to post my least embarrassing efforts on my blog. However, the next line of her comment struck me the most:
While I know it seems like there's always, always room for improvement - and that's true - we have to remember at all times that our Lord (mysteriously) takes DELIGHT in our efforts.
I'm always asking God to bring things to light that I may improve on, no matter how difficult, so that I can continually move closer to becoming who he created me to be. This prayer is so important to me that I named my blog after it. God has been faithful, gently bringing to light my struggles and flaws and giving me the grace to understand and alter them so that I constantly grow. In my silliness, I forgot to check in with Him for a progress report. I brought this to prayer and reflection. Do You really delight in my efforts? Is this possible?

I received a resounding YES. I allowed my own perfectionism and mental self-flogging to make me blind to the most basic understand of God - love. Although growth, especially of the spiritual nature, can be painful, it is fruitful. The only unfruitful pain I was experiencing was that which I was inflicting upon myself.

Refiners don't hone and shape with fluffy white clouds. They use fire to make something beautiful. God is the Great Refiner.
And yet, He is also our Father.
I've watched my husband in just his first year of being a daddy. He's swaddled, soothed, shushed and paced until his arms ached and his voice was hoarse. When all efforts failed to remedy her pain, he just cried along with her. As she is learning how to walk, he sets firm but tender boundaries. He's rejoiced at her growth, no matter how small, and encouraged her efforts.
How could I ever doubt that our perfect heavenly Father would do at least this?

I think I have subconsciously thought that my goal was to be more independent, only needing to turn to Christ when I was failing, but I was mistakenly viewing Heaven with earthly eyes. The pain of our growth comes not from learning how to be self sufficient, but learning how to hand over our will and become completely dependent on God.

Growing pains are inevitable. His grace is sufficient.

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