My boys can you tell right now…growing hurts. It stretches your muscles and makes your limbs ache from the inside out. Even with all of the pain involved, our oldest son is rather excited. He has this great desire to span the gap between his father and me, and eventually pass DaddyFoster. The pediatrician says he won’t be taller than Dad, but that doesn’t stop him from dreaming.
I remember carrying each of these boys in my womb. It was a wondrous time as I felt the little flutters and kicks in my belly. But it was also a rather uncomfortable time. The kicks got harder, I was sure Boy #1 was using my ribs as a jungle gym, and I think boy #5 bruised my tailbone. My body stretched and moved to accommodate these temporary tenants, leading to aches and pains. But what an awesome reward we receive at the end of all those “growing pains”!
Growing pains aren’t always physical, though. As a human development professional, I am familiar with the varied and intricately intertwined domains of development. We are forever changing and growing physically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively. The day we stop growing is the day the Lord takes us home.
One of the areas I am growing in is learning to be more assertive. I actually find it kind of humorous. I am a very outgoing person. After having to wait for me to finish a conversation in the grocery store, the boys (or husband) will ask me, “who was that?”, to which I reply, “I have no idea, I just liked her shoes and we started talking.” My family now asks if my conversation partner was even someone I know. I will start a conversation with anyone, and often share my life story. This is nothing new. My Mom will tell you I have been doing this as long as I have been speaking.
But gregarious does not equal assertive. When faced with an individual with a strong personality, I often step back and let them have their way. After all, I don’t want to step on any toes. Even when I believe I am right, it is difficult to speak up. I just want to be liked. But I am learning, and I am growing. And sometimes this growing hurts.
Recently I have found myself in a situation in which I feel justified, and supported, in my decisions. Yet I am met with strong resistance from another person. Of course, there is a part of me wanting to shrink back and let this other person have their way. Let’s not make any enemies. But I speak my mind, (stretch!) and I state my reasoning (more stretching!), and we continue to discuss.
DaddyFoster has been anticipating some growing pains of his own. You see, his company is transferring us 2000 miles away from our current home this summer. And he gets to go before the rest of us to find the new house. I have always dealt with the house hunting duties in this family. But this is not just a man lamenting his new duties. This is a very shy, quiet guy, having to (gasp!) meet new people. This is the man that will sit in one place after Sunday service waiting for his butterfly wife to return from all her little conversations. I collect all the information and bring it back to him. This has worked quite well for us for the past seventeen years. Now our system is being shaken up and this causes a bit of anxiety. While I will anxiously await the great pictures and information he will send me on all of the great homes he will find, he will still have to find them (stretch!). He will have to talk to the management (more stretching!), and ask all the important questions (even more stretching!).
That is what the Lord does in our lives. He stretches us, He pulls us, He grows us! He molds us to the purpose He has for us. Philippians 1:6 says “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Maybe we should be more like Boy #1. Excited about the stretching, the aches and the pains of growth. Excited about spanning the gap between who we are now and who we are meant to be.