Thursday, March 20, 2014

Biweekly Bits #4: Outgrowing Things is Okay

You outgrow some things, and that's okay. Sometimes it's a pair of jeans, or shoes, or a shirt. Sometimes it's a friendship. Sometimes it's a place. Sometimes it hurts. But growth is key to life, and in the same way that it would be silly to torture yourself by wearing a pair of shoes that's too small, it's not prudent to hold onto other things that you have outgrown either. (See also Genesis 13)

Do you ever remember having an item of clothing that you really liked, but it didn't fit anymore? Maybe you got bigger or taller, or put it in the dryer and it shrunk, or you lost a lot of weight. Regardless of the reason, you couldn't wear it anymore, because it didn't fit anymore. Weren't you a tiny bit upset though? Sigh...

However, I'm sure that you understand that life changes, and growth is part of that change. In the case of the things we wear, that's a given. Growing up, means growing (duh, right?). Things that fit perfectly when you were five years old, don't fit at all when you're thirteen. 

If we're talking about apparel, this is an easy concept to understand, but it becomes much harder to accept when it comes to outgrowing other things: like friendships, places, churches, jobs. 

But I'm going to say it: sometimes in life you outgrow things. And that's okay. Growing is a part of life. You can't bear fruit if you don't grow.

Granted, it's not easy. It's hard to take a step back and realize that the reason why you and a friend no longer have the same relationship is because one (or both) of you has grown and diverged from the other. It's a struggle to understand that the reason why you don't fit into this place that you used to be so comfortable in is because you've simply outgrown it. It hurts to realize that you might have to leave your church because you've outgrown it. (Hopefully the latter doesn't happen to you and your church because you are all growing together, but alas, it may.)

Navigating this unfamiliar feeling of outgrowing things is tricky at best. It takes discernment and wise counsel to know whether you don't fit anymore because your roots and branches need more space for you to flourish, or because your head has become swollen in your own self-importance. One of these requires you to be transplanted into new soil with more room, the other requires a large pin. But chances are, if you have grown, and it's time to leave somewhere or something, you'll know, and those around you will too.

Think of what happened with Abram and Lot (Genesis 13). They literally outgrew their association. They each had so much livestock and such that the land could not support them both. There just weren't enough resources available for them both to survive and flourish. Once they recognized this, they parted ways to avoid fighting and quarreling over space and resources.

Maybe you've outgrown something in life, but you're trying to cling to it. In the same way that it would be silly (and painful) to wear a pair of shoes that is a size too small, it is not prudent to hold onto other things that you've outgrown. Take some time to evaluate what this means. Pray about it. It is God who gives the growth (1 Cor 3:7), and he is faithful to provide wisdom when we need it (James 1:5).

Or perhaps there's someone in your life who has outgrown something (or someone). It may be your role to encourage them as they transition to whatever new thing they must move on to.

Don't be afraid of growth. If you start growing a tree in a flowerpot, once the tree begins to truly grow, it must be moved into a new environment, for it will use up all the nutrients in the pot and begin to falter for lack of nourishment. 

We have to grow. We need to grow. Let us embrace growth. Even when it is uncomfortable. Even when it means letting go of things near and dear to us.

Be blessed and shine and grow!

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A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
and how good is a timely word! -Prov 15:23