It’s been strange to see pictures of my friends’ kids lately—they are all two months taller than the last time I saw them in person! Of course, my own kids are growing, too, even if I don’t notice the small changes each day. It seems like suddenly, overnight, my daughter was taller than me, or my toddler started using (almost) complete sentences. Circumstances being what they are, we’ve been doing a lot of growing together lately . . . and not all of it has been pretty.
We’re used to physical growing pains. My second daughter in particular seems to suffer with them in her knees. I think there are spiritual growing pains as well, and after two months with only each other for company, we’re all feeling the pains of our virtue and our faith being stretched. Relationships also have growing pains, as anyone with a teenager (or anyone with a spouse, for that matter!) can testify. Growing and changing hurts. Besides the physical pain, it means leaving behind what was old and comfortable, whether it’s a favorite pair of shoes, a friend who is on a different life trajectory, or a prayer practice that just doesn’t resonate anymore. It’s sad to tell those things we are used to goodbye, and sometimes the new shoes need breaking in, or the new prayer takes a higher level of concentration.
Yet as I struggle to find kind words, to listen patiently to one more grand idea, or to break apart the same tiny green and black Legos for the umpteenth time, it has helped me to think of these difficulties as growing pains. It’s hard to control myself and take another deep breath before I speak, but if I’m paying attention, I can recognize that the difficulty comes with the growth, and I can be a little more patient with myself. Each time I make the effort, my soul can grow a little “taller.”
Growing and changing are hard, whether that means moving out for the first time or learning to control one’s temper. But—God be praised!—we have a loving God who patiently holds our hands through it all. May he give us the grace to grow always towards him, whatever the difficulties.