G is for Growth

Growth is the most natural thing in the world. Plants grow (especially weeds), children grow (faster than we think), minds grow (if properly stimulated), faith grows (as we feed on God’s word), and so on. Much growth, maybe most growth, occurs in the unseen realms—seeds sprout below the soil, babies grow in the womb, faith grows in the spirit, knowledge and wisdom grow in the mind and soul.

Last month I planted my vegetable garden. The first month or two of a garden project is excruciating for me. Will it fail? Will all the work I’ve put in to this patch of dirt be completely fruitless? What if the seeds are duds? Why are the weeds growing faster than the seeds? (Perhaps we should be eating the weeds.)

My “fairy” garden.

Most everything has sprouted now, and I’ve filled in some of the blank spaces where seeds simply disappeared … eaten or washed away, who knows? The urge over the last month to dig in the dirt to check on the seeds that hadn’t sprouted yet was strong. I resisted.
Mostly. It seems that “helping” things grow is not helpful at all.

Artificial aid in the natural process 
results in weakness and deformity.

Knee-high on the 4th of July.
If you’re a Barbie doll. 

Move a little dirt to let that bean sprout come up and it gets too much sunlight and dies. Pick that dry seed shell off the squash sprout and the leaves never quite finish maturing, leaving the plant weak and pale.

I should know better. Somewhere I read a story about someone who tried to help a butterfly that was struggling to come out of its chrysalis. The butterfly died. The same is true for baby chicks coming out of their shells. The process—exhausting, painful, and difficult as it appears—is critical for healthy growth and maturity … and not just for butterflies and bean sprouts.

Lettuce on June 12

How often do I jump into situations to rescue my children when they really need to work it through on their own? (For the record, I have done all of these things at least once.)

  • Not letting an infant fuss and cry while he or she learns how to roll over, or pull up (or sit back down), or crawl or walk, or tie her shoes, or put on his own clothes.
  • Serving as a live wake-up call for children who are old enough to set their own alarm clocks so they won’t suffer the consequences of being late to school, work, or church.
  • Finishing a science project, 4-H craft, or other assignment for him or her because they are “too tired” or it’s “too hard.”
  • Selling the Girl Scout cookies, chocolate bars, or whatever, yourself, so your child won’t “feel like a failure.”
  • Intervening in minor disagreements with your kids and their friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc. because you “just don’t want them to get hurt.”
Lettuce on July 4

Even worse, how often do I run around looking for someone to bail me out of uncomfortable, difficult, or downright unpleasant situations? Instead of asking for grace to grow, I start looking for the quick fix and the easy way out.

  • The winning lottery ticket instead of trimming the budget.
  • The magic fat-burning elixir instead of the boring diet and exercise plan.
  • The one, particular miracle church service instead of the read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year, Scripture-memorization, time-on-your-knees-in-prayer program.

(Please don’t misunderstand me… there are situations in which “assisted growth” can be necessary, appropriate, or an answer to prayer. It is not, however, conducive for long-term growth and healthy development.)

We have become a culture that despises the process. We want prepackaged, prearranged, prefabricated, pre-appointed everything.We don’t want steps, stages, or “some assembly required.” We want results. Immediately. Now. Yesterday. That mindset has made us much, much weaker physically, mentally, and emotionally than our pioneering forefathers.

New seasons of life always require growth and change—internal, external, or both. Let’s determine to accept the processes that new growth requires, not with a hangdog face and sour attitude, but with joy and anticipation. We’re going to have to “go through” sooner or later, if we want to have enough strength to stand and fly when we get to the other side!

A quick shout-out to Patty Wysong for coming up with this terrific meme! For more “From a2z4u & Me” posts, click the picture below.

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