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Monday, September 13, 2010

Arriving.



In my early 20's I naively thought I was almost there. I could see it and touch it and ignorantly (and arrogantly) assumed I'd reach it by 30. Delusions of spiritual grandeur filled my head. God was near; I was a tested, approved workman for Jesus and I was not ashamed. I knew I needed to grow some, but certainly I'd arrive within a decade.

In my 30's I came to the realization that I hadn't reached it but someday I would. It was out there--waiting for me. Struggling through ups and downs of marriage and child rearing, dealing with moves and job changes and all the stuff of life, I felt like a veteran. Surely a few more "life lessons" and I'd be there. There: at that magical place of faith where communion with God is easy, vibrant, natural and dieing to oneself is the norm. Sure, there would still be things to work on, but God would show me and we'd correct them and we'd keep moving ever forward.

Now, as I approach my 44th birthday (still 5 months away but looming in the near future) I don't think it's possible. I don't think we ever arrive. I think we're forever in the process of arriving...and by that I mean sometimes we're standing still.

In this life of faith, we never arrive. There's never a point of maturity in any area that won't still need growth. And not just tweaking, but full out growth. We don't/can't master anything. 10 years ago, I might have conceded to this idea but I know I would have assumed that if you don't "arrive" or at least keep moving forward at a steady, fast-ish pace, it's your fault.

But is it? Are we to blame for slow growth, stand-stills, detours and delays? Certainly, yes, at times we're the ones who inhibit growth. But always? I'm tempted to say that God holds us back knowing what we can handle and when we can handle it so He allows for growth to be slow or even at times non-existent. But I'm not sure that's true either.

Perhaps the fact that we'll never arrive is simply because we have an unlimited capacity for growth.

Who knows. All I know is that just when I think I'm pulling into the station I realize I'm actually pulling out.

4 comments:

Nancy said...

WOW! I had to back up a few times and re-read some lines in this post! Thank you for the depth, yet the clarity that you put into this one. Thank you for telling me it's "ok" to never arrive... that takes the pressure off, when you know that you haven't, but feel like you should've a LONG time ago. I remember years ago someone asking me: is there such a thing as "good enough" in the Christian life? We will always be striving, because God "has set eternity" in our hearts. Thanks, Patty! :)

Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus said...

" ... forever in the process of arriving ..."

I like that a lot. Some might find that bit of truth frustrating. But I find it rather comforting.

Thank you for this, Patty.

ibecome said...

In spite of the semi-unfortunate fact that I'm just entering those arrogant 20's about which you wrote first, I do know what you mean. Every day I realize a little more how little I understand.

It struck me awhile back, reading through a chapter in Proverbs (15?) that the "wise man" is commended, not for having it all together, but for "heeding correction" - which he apparently still needed. I found this so ... I don't know. Liberating. Encouraging. Like your post. :)

Carey said...

Ah...so true! In my early 20s I thought when I was "as old" as 30, by then I'd have it all together. Nope. Not 40, 50, or 60+ either.

"unlimited capacity for growth." Great statement. We know God's not done with us yet...we're still breathing.