The topic this week for my collaboration with Ruth is growth.
As always, check out her ideas here.
I felt daunted when I first heard this word, a word that encompasses so much. It carries within its meaning so many universals, yet is still tailored to each individual; unique in the paths it creates to every one of us. But what really got me is when I started thinking about my physical growth and drawing parallels to my ‘growth’ in every other area of my life.
No one can tell when they are growing. I honestly couldn’t tell you how I got to be as tall as I am. I just, well, I just grew. I guess. I don’t remember it; I can’t recall any specific jumps up in my height. One day I woke up and I was taller.
And there were several things that contributed to my growth.
First off, I have been endowed with a predisposed potential. My body is engineered to grow, to endure, to heal and to move. All of these things it can do just fine on its own. Without me thinking about it or learning how, I have an affinity towards natural movements and habits.
While not having to teach myself to grow up from baby size, or how to regenerate skin, I do have some influence over how well I naturally perform these tasks. And this influence comes from a myriad of things; what I eat, how often I move, even the people I surround myself.
Those two things, my genetics and my physical lifestyle, contribute to the physical man you see before you. But what of my growth in other areas? What of the condition of my heart, my mind, and my soul?
I should certainly hope those grow along with my body, and although I find the term baby-soul somewhat endearing, I would prefer not to have one. (Although, arguably, that’s all anyone ever has, if put into context..)
Just as I will physically reap the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, I will spiritually reap the benefits of a life lived more engaged with God, a life more open and compassionate to the humanity around it. And, just as I can’t realize the act of my growth physically, I won’t be able to consciously realize the steps I take in my spiritual life.
I recognize that I have physical and health goals, but will not reach those until I put the proper nutrition into my body and train the right way. I recognize that daily prayer is an important aspect to sustaining a healthy relationship with my God, but I will not reach that point without discipline and daily reflection.
There is a difference between intellectually recognizing something to be true, and actually having that ‘thing’ engrained in your beliefs and actions. The young boy will grow up healthy and spry, or unhealthy and lethargic. And his path to either of these destinations will be riddled with choice after choice after choice, all of which seemingly don’t matter in the moment, but collectively add up to a very tangible result.
Our personal and spiritual growth doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t kick into effect the second we recognize what we believe to be right. It is always in effect. Our emotional and spiritual direction is being guided, daily, by the little things.
Growth. By God’s Grace we have been given almost limitless potential. The form he has supplied our bodies mirrors the form he has supplied our spirits: capable of more than we realize if we approach our own selves with discipline and vigor and joy.
And when I stumble, when I enter into that dark room where I fall into habits that treat my body poorly, and worse yet, when I fall into habits that abuse my spirit, it is by God’s Grace I can still see hope. It is by His Grace that I can still see what He has allowed me the opportunity to become.
And the grace that carries me out of that room?
So strange its mine.
Growth. The unseen mixture of a Design and Purpose more grandiose than we can fathom, and of personal choices seemingly obscure. The mixture of the Transcendent and of the intimate. The perfect balance of His gifts, and our will.
Do not discount His Hope, nor your own strength. For we may not see the progress, but if we continue the fight, we will reach heights unknown.
So eat your veggies, kids. It’s working.