by Morgan Callaway
I had a great childhood, but it wasn’t without its bumps and bruises. Skinned knees and sunburns are no joke, but I think growing pains were worst of all. I vividly remember waking up in the middle of the night, feeling like my bones were being stretched like Laffy Taffy. My muscles were on fire and I had to beg my mom for medicine, sometimes at the point of tears. I remember one such time when I couldn’t even stand because I was in so much pain. She would explain to me that the pain meant that my body was growing – my legs were getting longer and my bones were getting stronger. I did some research, and there’s no evidence to support her theory – most doctors think that so-called “growing pains” are actually just muscle cramps due to overuse as children run and play. However, I think that the growing pains I experienced as a kid are quite similar to the kind of pain I, and most of you, go through as we move through life.
Do you ever feel as though you’re never going to get where you want to be? Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in the mundane with no hope of escape because you’re weighed down by time, or money, or lack of energy? Me too. In fact, my journal is full of words describing this very thing – describing how stuck I feel and how bleak everything around me seems. It’s almost like a dull ache that won’t go away. A constant, teasing reminder of what my life could look like or a haunting eulogy of what I might have already lost.
The truth is that these feelings are not invalid. They are not rare and they do not make you less of a person for having felt them. But the good news is that we don’t have to let them take up space in our hearts forever. Have you ever looked back at a particularly tough situation and wondered how you ended up on the other side? I have. Maybe you were in need of a job and every opportunity felt like it was falling through. Or maybe you were stuck in an unhealthy relationship with no hope of resolution. I can tell you that struggles aren’t fun. No part of me has ever said, “I enjoyed that so much! I should totally do that again!” In my case, I felt empty and overused and exhausted and every part of me was screaming to break out of a cycle I thought would never end. But I realized that the only way to move past where I was into bigger and better things was to look up and reach out to the only One more powerful than what I was going through.
Our Heavenly Father is not blind to your pain or your frustration at being where you are in this moment. He is right next to you, fighting with you to get through the next day, the next hour, the next minute. Friends, I know what it’s like to pray and pray and only hear radio silence. I know what it’s like to feel stagnant and dull and unsatisfied with the pace of my life. But I also know what it’s like to look back and see myself molded and shaped and stretched and pushed forward into the future that I was designed for. I can remember the pain I experienced and see how it led me, by the grace of God, to grow into a better version of myself – a version that may not always look or feel better, but that I know is slowly and steadily becoming better.
I recently read “How’s Your Soul” by Pastor Judah Smith (an EXCELLENT book that I would highly recommend to anyone and everyone), and a paragraph stood out to me:
“Yes, following Jesus produces genuine changes in our lives. That’s inevitable. But our outward behavior and internal emotions might not always measure up to who we are on the inside. We are all in a process and we are all on a journey. At times, we won’t live like new people or feel like new people. But that doesn’t change the reality that we ARE new people.”
As Christ-followers, we have been born again into the family of God. That means that the old version of us is gone, and a new, fresh version of ourselves has replaced it. Just because you feel stagnant doesn’t mean you are. Just because you feel broken doesn’t mean you are. Your new self mirrors the qualities of Christ whether you feel it or not. Our hearts and minds will always be a little skewed because that’s how humanity is wired, but we are all in process and God’s grace and mercy covers the parts of us that we see as flawed or scarred by pain. Don’t let the world tell you that you will never be anything more. You are already more. Jesus says so. The journey is slow and long, but it is not in vain. Nothing you go through is wasted. It all produces growth. As my pastor says, “You grow through what you go through.”
When I think of growth, I picture flowers pushing up out of the ground to become beautiful, vibrant, intricate displays of color. They are fragile and easily trampled, but that doesn’t mean they refuse to exist out of fear that they might be stepped on or pulled up by their roots. They start from a tiny, often unassuming, and sometimes ugly seed. Then, it takes a special combination of factors like sunlight and water and soil to coax them from their tiny shells and encourage and fuel them to expand and change form until little by little, day by day, they become something worth marveling over. You and I are no different. But unlike flowers, we have hearts and souls that allow us to be consciously, and sometimes painfully and deeply, aware of the growing process.
Don’t let that scare you, but rather choose to trust that God knows what He’s doing and that His timing is perfect. When He seems silent, know that He is always listening. Embrace the pain, embrace the loneliness, embrace the discomfort and let it propel you further into His open arms. A quote I read recently stated it so eloquently: “How lovely the silence of growing things.” The purpose of growth is not about arriving, but rather knowing that in the silence and the pain of the in-between, you are becoming more beautiful, more like Jesus, and more like the person you are meant to become.
Morgan Callaway is a native Texan and a 2015 graduate of Texas Christian University (Go Frogs!). She's passionate about Jesus, design, baseball, pizza, useless trivia facts, and her Golden Retriever named Jazz. In her spare time, she loves to write, travel, cook, read, go to concerts, and spend time with her friends and family. Be friends! Follow her here: Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest & Website