Since I started writing my Blog, several people have asked me if I have always wanted to write or have previously done any writing. My answer is an emphatic , “absolutely not!”. I actually never enjoyed writing, or reading for that matter, because I am ultimately an extrovert. It’s hard to read or write with other people. I also consider reading and writing to be a form of “work” (even if it’s a novel) so I try to avoid either if at all possible. I guess I also believed I didn’t really have anything to offer. What in the world would I write about that anyone needs to hear? The other day I was pondering all these things, perplexed about the positive feedback I receive from what I write and how in the world I ever write more than one insight that has any worth, and I realized something. Even though I have never desired to write, I have told these type of “stories” in my head for as long as I can remember. The problem is, I try to TELL them to people and it just doesn’t come out right because, well, OTHER people want to talk too! It really interrupts the continuity of the story and distracts from the “punchline.” 🙂 The details that I like to give before I inform people why I am giving them really matters to me. But when I say them out loud, people just really want me to “cut to the chase.” Well, now I have about 3 minutes to “talk” without interruption and it comes pretty naturally. But of all the reasons I have not written until recently, was because I just hadn’t “grown up” yet.
Recently, I took my daughter to the doctor for some knee pain and they diagnosed her with a disease called Osgood-Schlatter (we call it “Oshkoshmagosh” because we can never remember how to say it). It’s a fancy, German sounding word meaning “growing pains.” There isn’t really anything you can do to cure it (aside from stop growing), but she feels validated now that there’s an actual diagnosis behind her whining. Naturally, because of how my crazy brain works, I started thinking about the concept of “growing pains” in our emotional/spiritual lives. The book of James talks about these kinds of pains: “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete (a “grown up”), not lacking anything.” Most of us probably know, though we don’t like to admit, that the times when we “grow” the most is through suffering. We don’t necessarily want to do it again and again, but we can see that our self-awareness, our depth of character and our desperate dependence on God are acute during these times. Agreed?
However-it also occurred to me that there is a difference between “growing PAINS” (which are passive and out of our control) and “growing UP” (which requires proactivity and is something that takes intentionality). We have all said it to someone: “Oh, Grow UP!”. Translation: “Stop acting like a baby, you idiot.” We will all experience “growing pains” because God tells us that “in this world we will have trouble.” But the good news, the hopeful news, is that He also says to “take heart, I have OVERCOME the world.” When we trust Him, we too can overcome. To overcome means to “grow up.” A lot of people suffer growing “pains” and never actually grow “up” as a result. This makes the those “pains” even more painful the next time around. Growing UP means that as a result of growing PAINS, we morph. We become more trusting and trustworthy. We extend tolerance and kindness and empathy to people around us. We become resilient instead of resentful. We are more humble and less likely to need to have it our way all the time. To force solutions. Everyone has different areas of “growing up” that are needed to make them “mature and complete.” I need only to focus on MY areas. It’s awfully tempting to point out how OTHER people ought to grow “up”.
Like I said-these thoughts and stories have been “hoarded” in my head for years. Why are they just now coming out in a productive way? Because through addiction and recovery and Leukemia, I “grew up”. Just a little, but enough that for whatever reason, God decided that I was capable of handling the responsibility to share them with others. I am able to share my heart without fear of what you think or if you like what I say. He has humbled me through all the “growing pains” and given me the strength to “grow up.” Oswald Chambers says, “God does not give ups overcoming life: He gives us life as we overcome. The strain is the strength. If there is no strain, there is no strength. Are you asking God to give you life and liberty and joy? He cannot unless you will accept the strain. Immediately (when) you face the strain, you will get the strength.” People often expressed how my strength during my battle with Leukemia inspired them. Well, the truth is, I didn’t have that strength until I needed it. You too can have it if you ask. God matches the strength to the suffering. I just forget to ask when it’s something I think I can handle myself. So-next time you are privileged to suffer “growing pains”, make the conscious choice and put the effort, prayer and energy into “Growing Up” as a result.