"Growth is evidence of grace."
When my kids were little the only time that got measured was at the doctor's office or the school nurse's office. It's not that I didn't care how much they were growing, it's that I was in denial of the fact that they were growing. With each inch gained I knew that it inevitably was taking them one step closer to not being with me all the time. And while selfishly I look forward to the day when it's just my husband and me again, I can not imagine not tucking them in or giving them a good-morning kiss.
As kids get older their growth rate slows a bit. In the beginning it seems like you can't keep up. Then they hit middle school and it's slow, but continual, and you don't see it until the jeans that fit them on the first day look like floods on the last. And heaven forbid they go from a cute kids haircut to more of an adult style. You might as well push the daggar straight through the heart because it'll break the minute you see them look more like a woman or man child than your baby.
And like a good parent, God is continually aware of our growth in Him. But I swear we never see it. We live inside of heads too much, using absolutes that have no business being in our vocabulary. We say things like You will never stop! You are stuck this way forever. You always fail. The mental tirade is relentless, particularly in a season of difficulty.
The problem is we can't chart our growth in typical ways because it isn't measured in inches, and we can't put it on a scale to see if we've gained (in a good way), to assess progress. We are at the complete mercy of the Spirit of God in us to bring our attention to the non-scale victories.
As I was challenged earlier today to look at a series of eight questions that I can use to help me surrender my thoughts, I began to wonder if we could make a chart to monitor our growth in Christ-likeness. Now, clearly we can't make ourselves grow like that because it will be a natural progression of the work of the Spirit. But I think we can put something on paper to encourage us along the way.
What if we honestly took a look at the fruits of the Spirit and wrote out where we are weakest and what those weaknesses look like in our lives. Are we lacking patience and we snap? Are we lacking kindness and assuming the worst about people? Are we lacking faithfulness and not following through on anything? Whatever it is, put it down. Then, what if we looked at it at the end of every week to recall anything we faced where our response was better. Not perfect, but better. Wouldn't that little bit of reflection help us see what we could have done differntly and then pray for ourselves more effectively?
The beautiful part is that when we see the growth, we will be staring at the evidence of God's grace, because it's through His grace that we change into the sons and daughters He intends us to be. And maybe through the glimpses of progress we will begin to look at ourselves the way He has seen us from the beginning: as His precious and loved child.