November 19, 2012

Growing Pains

On and off for the last year Isabel has been complaining of pain on her legs. It wakes her up at night. It is worse after she has had an active day. It is overall uncomfortable for her. Worried mom, I took her to the pediatrician who smiled reassuringly, patted my arm and explained that Isabel is suffering from growing pains. I told her I thought that was an old-wives tale but she assured me they are very real, especially in children of elementary school age.

And these growing pains are a good thing, she said. They mean her bones are stretching, doing their job to make her taller and stronger. Doing what bones were created to do. But, to the suffering little girl, this is only partially good news. Because the bad news is that there is not much to do but let them pass. She can take some pain killers to ease the pain temporarily, but these growing pains are part of the life of a child who is following the natural progression of growth, just the way God intended it. The pain she is going through means a more mature Isabel by next summer, both physically and emotionally.

Lately, I’ve been having growing pains as well. The spiritual kind. The kind that comes after a fruitful season of praying and seeking the Holy Spirit’s movement in my life. Be careful what you ask for, they say. For when I open myself to growth, Jesus begins to prune. And the pruning process is painful. Growth hurts. With each stretch of my spiritual bones and muscles I am uncomfortable. And at first, I protest, try to get away, raise my voice in indignation. Yet these pains are good news. The pains mean I am going through the natural progression of growth, just the way God intended it. The pain I’m going through means a more mature Gaby by next season, both spiritually and emotionally.

Isabel’s growing pains are deep inside her leg, beyond the muscles, right into the bone. My growing pains come from the outside. From dealing with difficult people and keeping a humble attitude. From silencing my pride when it has been injured because someone has stepped on my toes. From apologizing when I am not to blame, for the sake of a relationship. From allowing Him to teach me that my rights, my wants, my comfort are not as important as the greater good of his Body and his Kingdom. From admitting when I am wrong and changing my way or my perspective. None of this comes easy to me. Yet his grace is sufficient to show me just how to get it done. But it hurts. And stings. And keeps me up at night.

Unlike Isabel I have a choice to go through this process or not. I can tell God to forget it, that I really did not mean that I wanted to grow closer to him, that I was fine and comfortable just the way I was, thank you very much. And He would let me be. But just like a child who fails to grow, I would become stunted, underdeveloped, useless for the purposes that He intended for a more mature, strong, healthy me. So all I can do is let this season of growth run its intended course. But I wait actively, abiding in him as I learn from this pruning. Bringing my frustrations to him and letting him comfort me like I do Isabel in the middle of the night when she wakes up hurting.

Growing pains are not enjoyable. Yet like refining fire that purifies and cleanses, this scraping of my rough edges, of my resistance to be molded to his image, is what I need to do just what the Lord requires of me: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my Lord. 

**Joining with Jen and the sisters of Soli Deo Gloria ***


Barbara said...

However painful they are, they are so necessary! Thanks for this post!

Kathleen Jaeger said...

Ahh, yes, growing pains...I've had lots of those spiritual ones, too, lately.

soulstops said...

So much wisdom and love in your words, Gaby, as you surrender to His pruning so you may bear more fruit (John 15:1-5)...I can already see the beauty of humility as you surrender to His process...I agree with is painful, and I don't like it, but in hindsight, the fruit is always worth it...wishing you and yours a most blessed Thanksgiving, and God's grace and peace in the pruning, my friend :)

P.S. Praying grace for Isabel in her pain.

Jean Wise said...

Beautifully written and illustrated. Great lesson here, Gabby. By the way I had growing pains as a child and now have restless leg syndrome. Knowing what I know now I think I had RLS then, too. I hope she gets over this and that you continue to grow too. I smiled when you wrote: watch what you pray for. how true!!

Debbie said...

I loved this line:

"From allowing Him to teach me that my rights, my wants, my comfort are not as important as the greater good of his Body and his Kingdom. "

I'm continually having those same growing pains. It's that continual growing process of dying to self. You're so right that we have the choice about them, and I choose to grow!

Nancy Franson said...

Somehow, I think your Father loves you to much to allow you to say no to the growing--painful or not. Seems like that's the way He is with me. He just won't give up and let me stay stunted. Sigh.

Good thing He is good.