Last week during Christmas, my family spent a couple days down at Megan’s parents house in Castle Rock. For the last few years, at some point during the post-gift exchange lull of the early afternoon, somebody suggests that we watch vintage home videos of Megan’s family. After rummaging through a collection of VHS tapes marked with Sharpie scribbles, somebody pops in the featured film of the afternoon. If you can remember, the early 80’s was the era when recording home videos required real work. Carrying a microwave-sized box on your shoulder took a serious investment of time which means that you end up recording hours of one single shot in order for the moment to be worth it.
In this particular episode, we got to watch a snippet from an hour long episode of 3 year old Megan and her 5 year old brother playing on a swing set. It was hysterical watching Megan try to figure why the teeter-totter doesn’t work with just one person. More amazingly was how much my wife has changed in 30 years. I didn’t know her back then. I only know her has she is now.
But this is how we see growth…right? By looking back at how we used to be, how we used to think, how we used to behave and then looking at who we’ve become since then. Looking at these videos, and even looking back at our last 8 years of marriage, I can see that the Megan I am married to today is more caring, thoughtful, hospitable, loving, generous, and beautiful.
As we reflect over this last year and turn our sights to next year, it’s normal at this time to be thinking about what we accomplished and what we want to accomplish. While there is nothing inherently spiritual about the start of a new calendar year, this is commonly a week where we evaluate and take inventory of our lives and start making resolutions.
But I want to challenge us in what questions we are asking. Instead of only thinking in terms of goals and accomplishments, let’s think in terms of growth and maturity. What if we all spent some time this week asking…
This last year, who have I become?
This next year, who is the Father inviting me to become?
Yep…. Those are BIG questions and maybe a little daunting. Where do we even start in answering questions like that?
The reason these questions are important is because Ephesians 4 tells us that God’s intention for us is to grow into the “fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ.” Meaning that God is most glorified in our maturity, not just our accomplishments. The Father loves to grow us up – still preserving our “child-likeness” but leaving behind our “child-ishness”.
When we only look at our accomplishments and goals, we only leave room to celebrate our victories.
But when we are looking at who we are becoming, we have permission to look back to moments of pain, tragedy, and failure and ask God what he formed in us through those circumstances. This doesn’t mean that God purposefully makes bad things happen to us. But he uses every opportunity to reveal Himself in us. Our growth and maturity is defined when we can identify Jesus more fully in us.
Remember, setting goals is good and necessary, but the fullness of Christ is what we’re after.
In my opinion, that’s the best way to end and begin a new year. Cheers!