I was skeptical at first. It didn’t sound like a legitimate medical diagnosis — more like the kind of thing moms say, when you’re whining and they want you to leave them alone and go back outside and play.
Sometimes I felt a sharp, shooting pain – out of nowhere. Other times a dull, throbbing ache that just wouldn’t go away. My eleven year-old self was fearful and anxious and worried.
But it turns out my mother was right.
They went away eventually. We didn’t know it then, but I was almost done growing – almost my adult-sized self. Physically, that is.
I’m still waiting to get there spiritually…
Lately I’ve been experiencing some of that sudden, sharp, shooting pain again – but on the inside this time. There’s also been some dull, throbbing, aching pain. It comes on more gradually, so I tend to ignore until it reaches a tipping point, until I can’t ignore it anymore.
I’ve talked about it with my friends, and quite a few of them report they’re experiencing the exact same symptoms…
As we’ve compared notes, we’ve determined it’s growing pains.
We’ve discovered we’re all in seasons of life where we’re really being challenged to grow.
- Challenged to see ourselves as we never have before – the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. To embrace grace and repentance. To walk in brokenness and humility – and a commitment to obedience.
- Challenged to love and give and serve others sacrificially, for the love of Jesus, more than we ever have before.
- Challenged to endure hardships and persevere though seasons of suffering.
- Challenged to live in uncertainty, to wait on God for long periods of time, or to work without any signs of reward or result.
- Challenged to navigate unfamiliar scenery and unpredictable circumstances.
- Challenged to step outside of our comfort zones and do new things – or do old things differently.
We’re being challenged to learn, when we thought we were done learning. Move, when we thought we were done moving. Stretch, when we thought we’d already been stretched to our limits. Grow – because (it seems) we’re never done growing.
God is answering our prayers to make us more like Jesus. He’s answering our prayers to draw us closer to Him, into a deeper relationship with Him. He’s answering our prayers to teach us to know His voice, His heart, His will.
He’s answering a lot of other prayers we’ve prayed, too – and all this is somehow part of the process.
So my friends and I – after comparing all these notes – are giving each other a bit more sympathy than our mothers did, when we complained about our growing pains years ago.
Sympathy and empathy.
And GIFs. We send each other lots of those funny video clip things (because we need to laugh — and using this-here-new-fangled-technology is one of the ways we’re growing).
We’re making time to laugh, to cry, to talk things over and pray together — pray each other through.
And to remind each other of three things that are true about growing pains, in a spiritual sense, at least:
- Growing pains are necessary. They’re a natural consequence of being alive and growing. The alternative is to become spiritually complacent, stale and stagnant — and / or dead. Um… I choose growing?
- Growing pains are temporary. They come and go. Our lives have seasons of growth, seasons of maturity and fruitfulness, seasons of rest and renewal. No season lasts forever, no matter how long it feels. We will get through it.
- Growing pains lead to growth spurts! There is a reward for all of this – there are rewards. Physical, emotional, spiritual. And it will be worth it. He is worth it. What happens when we answer the call of God, when we walk in obedience to Him, when we experience that sweet fellowship with Him – it will be worth everything He has asked us to endure. One day we will be awestruck when we see just what it was that He was doing in us and through us, all that He used our growing pains to produce.
So what about you? Are you going through some growing pains today? Please let me encourage you to hang in there, sweet friend…
Need some prayer? Comment below and we’ll pray together.
I’d love to hear what you’ve been learning along the way…