ON HOW WE GROW

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


I start a fresh document as we drive away from English camp, labeling it “Europe Diaries 2017.” At the very beginning of the post, I write down the following question:

How does one grow & mature?

We arrive at the place we’re staying at for the night, so I don’t get much further than that, but I still think about it over the next few days. And I’m still thinking about it now.

Out of the millions of things we learn in life, only a few of them are actual conscious epiphanies. Sure, we can look back at our past selves and analyze how we acted, but rarely is the decision to become different intentional. Sometimes it just happens by the grace of God. Which is great. And other times, we come to actual realizations, moments where we consciously notice some particular life lessons and try to alter our behavior.

Over the course of the English camp that I helped at this past week, I've felt myself changing, but not due to any particular epiphany. It could just have been the general culture of the camp, and it might be temporary, but that made me wonder: how do you mature?

Even looking back at my past actions and thoughts last year, much of which was chronicled in “Europe Diaries 2016” (none of which will anyone ever see), I have to say: I know I changed. But how was that change brought about? How did my character develop? How does one degrade or improve in character? And how do I communicate that to the characters I write, the stories I write?

People can be complacent, but we can’t be static. We change a lot. So I’m basically just going to analyze a couple of different ways I’m different now than I was before.

Self-Control.
Any time I lose control over my speech, I almost always end up regretting something that I say. Any time I lose control over my actions, I almost always end up regretting something I do. A lot of my instincts are correct, but my impulses are more likely to be wrong, and they’re stronger than my instincts when they assert themselves. The couple times I follow my impulses, I’d say that one-third of them make me do something I end up apologizing for or something, and so as a result, I’ve been trying to practice more self-control.

HOW I LEARNED: trial and error, making mistakes, etc.

Finding Comfort in the Uncomfortable.
I still would prefer not to be in long lines, but I don’t loathe them like I used to. Defusing awkward situations is a skill that is acquired by practice. And I’ve learned that I’m not going to always be comfortable on this earth. If I’m honest, I’m probably only comfortable when I’m at church or at home with my family. In any other situation, I feel uncomfortable, but that’s just because I’m me, and being me means being A) a Christian, B) an introvert, and C) a human. And any time we strongly identify with a particular worldview, we’ll feel uncomfortable in any situation that forces us to address alternatives or opposites of that which, for me, happens every single day in a variety of different situations (i.e., school). That’s just the way it is—and the fact that I feel uncomfortable as a Christian gives me hope in the fact that when I die, I’ll be content in heaven. 

HOW I LEARNED: a slight epiphany precluded by an obsession with Andy Mineo’s album Uncomfortable, which had insights that greatly widened my perspective

People Matter.
This is actually very terrible, but I’m neither a thoughtful nor selfless person. I’m not great at giving gifts, and I’m not good at putting people first. But I’ve slowly been trying to invest in others, because besides Jesus, people are the most important thing on this earth. And I’m trying to do better.

HOW I LEARNED: Still learning.

There are a million things that are wrong with me, and not all of them will ever be solved. I’ll never reach perfection, which is okay, because I can’t expect it from myself. All I can do is rest in grace, and keep moving forward.

How have you grown/matured in the past year? What has caused you to change as a person?


1 comment

  1. This is such an interesting, thought-provoking post, wow. It's really cool to look back at yourself and observe the ways that you've grown and changed. I think that I've just been learning a LOT (and am still learning) about fully trusting God and knowing that He has a plan, and not putting so much of my own efforts into controlling things. My lovely Type A personality is struggling with that, but it's a work in progress.

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