How We Grow

I was at a high school reunion a last month. Fifty years later almost all of us were recognizable–the women more than the men! It was crazy. We all had added wrinkles but for the most part we all looked the same as we had. We went to a small school so we had known each other fairly well.

What I noticed was that eyes were different. One set told of allergies, but the look was the same, just more confident and secure. Most eyes told of more security, more sense of self, less needing to hide. One set showed new peace, one, bitterness, coming out of similar situations. Almost all of us had been through a divorce. All of us through death of at least one parent. I think all of us have children.

It was so interesting to see the choices of how we had related to life happenings. We had all suffered, and come through different, but I was so grateful to see that for most of us, our faith and self was in tact.

The five who still had intact marriages (two of them married to each other) had suffered too, but seemed more settled, more secure, and they hadn’t let their looks go either. That was good to see.

When people asked if I was married, I said “presently.” And they all were understanding. Most of them were eager to hear about my writing, and eager to share things that were exciting to their understanding of God, It was a great time, especially enhanced by getting to be with my three sisters too, and a close friend on her birthday!

It was a great reminder of how we grow. Not grow up as in age, but grow in attitude. You’ve probably heard you just get more like you are, so when you are old if you were self-centered or angry, you are more self-centered and angry as an old person. Time doesn’t necessarily modify that. However, experience can. It depends on our choices.

The past two days we’ve been dealing with fires here again. On either end of our city, and the wind has been in our favor. We feel so cared for, so blessed, but I wonder. What if we had been one whose home had burned? Would we feel cared for and blessed then? Would we choose to feel unloved? abandoned? bitter? It’s so easy.

Or would we choose to feel honored because God trusts us to go through something so hard? When we choose to go through something hard gracefully, trusting in the goodness of God, we grow.

We also have parents who lost college-age children this week in a random mass shooting here. That has to be the hardest experience of all. I don’t know if you can go through it with grace. I hope I don’t have to find out, but I know God can carry you at really difficult times–They have done it for me. I experienced it when my little brother died at 22. And my parents did well, as far as I could tell.

All of us will go through pain here. It is the nature of the turf. But if you know God is filtering your experiences because He knows what you can and can’t handle, it makes it so much better. Pain is pain, no matter, but how do you choose to see it? How do you choose to understand it?

Victor Frankel wrote about surviving concentration camps and said the people who got through it are the ones who can assign meaning to it. They can come through without bitterness. He did, and made a great contribution to psychology in Man’s Search for Meaning- a very readable book.

I watch my daughter and am amazed at her resilience! The things she goes through with a great attitude! It isn’t just her personality. I know her. It definitely comes by choice.  It’s how we grow.

I know we are caught in a war between good and evil. I also know good is going to win. (I read the end of the book.) God, let me be one of those people who takes what comes as You trusting me to speak well of You no matter what. I want to take the honor and give it back to You. You’ve honored us with vindicating Your character–claiming we are capable of knowing You, of suffering and still loving. And You will win. I want to choose love.

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