“Are we there yet?” That is how I wanted to start this piece, but there is a problem. When it comes to personal and spiritual growth, I perceive some confusion about who is driving the car and who is a passenger.
We begin our growth journey organically, as young humans that are continually observing, exploring, and experimenting. But as social beings, we realize at some point that people are watching (and evaluating) us. A little further down the road, as our self-awareness grows, we begin to engage in self-assessment. Questions about worth, significance, and belonging grow increasingly louder. “What if I’m not enough?” becomes a familiar, though submerged anxiety.
Maturation has always been part of God’s plan for humans. It is evident in the design of bones, muscles, cognitive abilities, mastery of skills, and so many other aspects of our being. It is a process that Jesus too underwent as part of God’s plan for him (which seems to draw a distinction between the concept of “incomplete” and “inadequate”). When believers are born again, they are not immediately transformed into their final glorious state. Rather, they embark on a new process of being refined and matured through blessings and trials.
But that submerged anxiety of not measuring up casts this growth process in a new light. We are haunted not just by our shame but by the fear of being exposed as inadequate. And this brings us back to the question of who—or what—is driving our growth process. Is it driven by shame and anxiety—a perpetual struggle of passing one “test” only to be confronted by another? Is it driven by a holy longing—an unquenchable thirst to know Jesus more deeply and be conformed to his likeness? Is it driven by the person or the Holy Spirit? For most of us, these are questions that can only truly be wrestled with among honest and discerning friends.
So, “Are we there yet?” In true Christian fashion, the answer of course is “already, but not yet.” As those who have been crucified with Christ, our worth, significance, and belonging are forever and inseparably defined by His own (Gal. 2:20). We cannot improve upon that, so in that sense, we have arrived. AND…there is so much of my being that has yet to fully embrace that reality, so the journey continues.
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