Growing in God can be hard and super uncomfortable.
Did you have growing pains as a kid? Or maybe you have a child now who is going through them? I didn’t experience the aches until I was a teenager. I remember laying in bed and doing my best to rub the pain out of my knees (which, of course, didn’t really help).
Some say you get growing pains when you’re going through a growth spurt, or rapid growth.
Spiritual Growing Pains: Growing in God
As I’m starting to see, we can get spiritual growing pains too. Christ already provided all of the things we need. But growth comes as we deepen in the realization of how His finished work at the cross impacted our identity and potential. In other words, it comes from us renewing our minds to what God says and what He’s given us.
Around October 2016, I started going through a season I called “The Great Correction.” Recently, I’ve had a friend explain her experience as spiritual bootcamp! Let me explain and see if you can relate…
It all started when I couldn’t run anymore from the reality that my fear of others had become a huge problem. As I submitted, God began to change my fearful heart. Easing the fear then revealed how prideful I had been and how deep my unbelief and distrust in God really were. And what goes hand in hand with unbelief? Disobedience. I suddenly realized saying “no” to God had become a usual thing for me. Annnnd, as if all of that wasn’t bad enough, I also began to see that I wasn’t unconditionally giving my love. Not really. How could I when I was so full of the fear of rejection?
One after another, deeper and deeper, the Holy Spirit began revealing all of these things (and more) to me that I hadn’t even realized were a problem. Did going through the correction make me perfect? Wow, I wish! But it’s allowed me to keep growing. God’s plowing the fields of my heart, planting new seeds, and pruning back old branches.
The more I say “yes,” the easier it gets when the next thing pops up.
Correction vs. Condemnation
At first, I fought God. I went kicking and screaming the entire way because it hurt to realize the areas of my heart that were still so off. But why did it hurt so much? I was correlating correction with condemnation. But here’s what Scripture says about that:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1 (ESV)
If you’re experiencing condemnation when God is correcting you, that’s the enemy trying to make you pull back from growing. The beauty of no condemnation is we can face correction without shame. We can open ourselves more easily to a normally painful process because we know the One correcting us also unconditionally loves us.
The Holy Spirit, the One who is teaching us and growing us, is called the Comforter. Can the process be uncomfortable? Yes, but it’s so so much worse when we aren’t discerning the difference between correction and condemnation.
Encouragement During Growth
Here are a few things to keep in mind that will help us along the way:
1. Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith.
The most important thing to remember is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. No matter how He’s asking us to step out or what He’s prompting us to change, He’ll be there. He’s the One who made change possible. He’s the One who supplies all of the power. All we have to do is say “yes,” step out, and let Him work. He’ll reveal every area of our lives that doesn’t line up with His plan of victory, He’ll work the ground of our hearts, and He’ll give us the strength to get through it.
2. The Word of God is alive and active.
Reading the Word gives God a powerful avenue where He can speak to us.
Have you ever read Scripture and thought “what the heck did I even just read?” Yeah, me too.
And other times, it seems like everything just unfolds without me having to exhaust too much effort. That’s what you can call a “now word.” It’s something that God is speaking directly to you in that moment.
Every time I open the Word, even if I’m reading a passage I’ve visited before, I see something new. Holy Spirit speaks something fresh to me. It’s not the same old stagnant stuff. It’s alive because Jesus, the Word of God in the flesh, is alive!
3. There’s strength in numbers.
I’ll be really honest with you–it took me quite a while to get revelation on this in my own life (just another step of The Great Correction). I’ve always been a class A introvert and try my hardest not to lean on anyone for anything. I’ll smile and be friendly to anyone who crosses my path. I’ll listen intently and be a shoulder to cry on for anyone who’s having a hard time. But telling someone else what personal struggles I’m going through is the last thing on my “To Do” list. So this one’s tough for me. Really tough. But there’s Biblical emphasis on fellowship for a reason.
“Two are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)
The word “tribe” is coming to mind. I love that word. A tribe is larger than a family but just as tight-knit. It’s similar to a village, but it’s less domesticated. It’s a little wild, a little rough around the edges. I hear the word tribe, and I see warriors. Like in the passage above, one lone warrior is more easily defeated.
The enemy loves it when we separate ourselves from the body of Christ. It makes it easier for him to slither in, undetected while we’re in the midst of our growth. Stand together, and we can help protect one another during attack.
4. There’s a purpose to your growing pains!
This is always the most encouraging thought for me. He hasn’t brought me this far for nothing. Father isn’t an arbitrary God. He’s intentional. Every season that He brings us through can be used for a specific purpose.
There’s a plan way better than we can even begin to imagine.
It’s an elaborate tapestry that our God is weaving, allowing each of us as strands of thread to play a part by adding the color He has given us. Only He can see the full picture and knows completely what is coming next. We can trust Him and know that any tugging is for the overall masterpiece. We can have joy knowing that because we have said yes to Him, we get to be a part of the big picture.
Sure, growing can be hard, but there is no condemnation for us. And the greater joy always outweighs any trouble along the way.
Until next time,
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