Someone once said if you ever stop growing you are dying. I guess that’s true. Can you be at a standstill for long periods of time? Or does decay sneak in undetected and begin to break down the foundation of who we are?
So a couple of weeks ago, I was with friends. Being an external processor, I shared some angst I was feeling. We discussed different solutions, offering suggestions on how conversations might be formulated. After one rehearsed conversation, my friend said, “That would make me really mad.” I said, “yeah, me too.” And then I realized we weren’t talking about the same thing.
She noticed that the content of my imaginary converstion was passive aggressive and that kind of interaction would be upsetting to her. It would be to me too.
I said, “I feel worse now.”
She said, “I didn’t mean to make me feel worse.”
I said, “It’s okay. I need to feel bad a minute.”
And she was right.
The conversation I rehearsed in my head, rather than being direct and loving, was passive agressive. That bothered me.
A few days later I was having a different conversation with a different friend. Again anticipating a difficult conversation, we rehearsed scenarios. At one point she paused, tilted her head and said, “You seem afraid. Are you afraid?”
“Yes. Yes. I am afraid. Afraid that if I am myself I won’t be accepted.” And there was the faintest flicker of light on the horizon of my mind. I saw that the two conversations connected.
There are times I look to the people around me to fulfill my core longings. Without realizing the subtle shift, I pull away from the Table of the Lord and moved toward the table the world sets.
And then dysfunctional behavior takes over. I am afraid others might not like what I say, do, think – so I withhold what I really want to say and convey through passive words meant to push you aggressively in the desired direction.
Today I confess that I’m not there yet. I haven’t achieved the maturity I look toward. Paul’s words are my anthem today:
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.Philippians 3:12-14
Be encouraged! Growth is a process and, while we want it to be linear, it is more often an upward spiral. We spiral around back to the same issues but just a bit more mature than the last time. If we are alert and willing, we can always take one more step in the direction of wholeness.
Be patient! God isn’t finished with you yet!