07 January 2009

Growing pains

Generally speaking -- very generally -- as a mainliner, I grew up in, was ordained by, served, and still attend a pretty feel-good church. We occasionally indulge in some guilt, but we tend to prefer it to be as institutional and generalized as possible. But personal pain, we don't do too often. And pain as part of God's will or purpose for us -- nope.
Over the last few years, I've questioned that a lot. A whole lot. I've felt as though whatever God is doing inside of me was this tumultuous process of pushing and pulling. Pregnancy is perhaps the most apt analogy, much like a baby growing, stretching, kicking, turning, pushing to get out...only I'd add a whole lot more prolonged round ligament pain to the analogy when talking about the spiritual growth side of it :). (round ligament pain is a very sharp intense pain, for those who have not been prego).
Anyway, recently I've been realizing that there's a reason that the Bible, in various places, refers to God's actions in an individual's life as... scourging, flaying, sharpening, refining, groaning, aching, burning, hammering. Because, as it turns out, real, honest spiritual growth can be really, really painful. And rather than be frightened by the idea that God intends for us to encounter these periods of great pain, I find it very comforting to find in scripture the hundreds of examples of God's people encountering just that. And then there's the thousands of stories of saints and mystics and servants who in 2000 years of Christianity have found purpose in the midst of suffering.
It doesn't make this growing any less painful, but I have found out that I sure am in good company.

1 comment:

Holly said...

Oh my goodness, April. Yes. YES!

The last few years I have likened it to being fileted.

But the place it brings you to is GOOD. And better than where you were.