Growing Pains

Growing Pains SmallThe year I was in kindergarten, I grew six inches. I started out as one of the smallest kids in my class and ended up being one of the tallest. (Impressive, especially since now I tower over even the biggest kindergartners at an enormous five feet…)

I remember laying in bed awake late into the night with my legs aching, just wanting to turn off the pain and go to sleep. My mom would hear me crying and come tuck hot water bottles around my calves and say, “It’s just growing pains, sweetie. You’re growing, and that’s a good thing.” It didn’t feel like a good thing. I just wanted to stop hurting.

We’ve been in Papua New Guinea for almost ten months, and in our new home in the Eastern Highlands for almost seven. We’ve taught through transition stages enough in our former role in the States to know that we’re in the hardest phase right now. Six to eight months in is when it all tends to come crashing in. Honeymoon’s over. Culture shock is at its worst. Naked reality arrives, and it’s not pretty. This is a hard place to live.

The last couple months have been intense. We were preparing for our high school spiritual retreat, praying passionately for God to show Himself strong and work in our students. And then the retreat came, and, boy, did God show up. Kids worshiped, hands in the air. They prayed for each other, battling on their knees for each other. They left changed.

And we left weary.

Yes, we were grateful for the way our students met God. But we were unprepared for just how intense the spiritual battle during the retreat would be. And we were drained. We needed rest.

I think I expected God to pause reality for a bit to let us regroup and refill.

But reality is not a gentleman, and God didn’t put life on hold for us. The days after rolled in like merciless waves, bringing illness, relationship struggles (yes, we missionaries are a mess), an emergency open heart surgery for my mother-in-law, the death of my precious grandfather, an intense desire to be at home in the U.S. with family… All of this piled on top of “normal” life stresses, like a water shortage due to the severe drought and a rat trying to chew through our daughter’s bedroom door, pushed me beyond exhaustion into the realm of get-me-outta-here.

Right now life here hurts. It burns deep in the bones, sometimes keeping me awake at night begging for the pain to stop. But running away wouldn’t stop the ache. Because the ache is in me, in the deep places where God is stretching me as He leans in and whispers soft, “You’re growing, and that’s a good thing.”

It isn’t fun. Growth always leaves us feeling awkward and out of proportion, unsure of our new height and muscle mass. It takes a while to stand steady again. But the steadiness does come, and so does the strength to run the race He has set before us.

And like everything, growth comes in seasons. Eventually the pain will lessen, and this place and these people will feel more familiar.

There will be new seasons of rest along the way, sweet ones full of fulfilled promises and clear vision. And there will be more times of hard-won maturing. Through both, the truth of who God is will not change.

He is good.

He loves us.

He will never leave us.

So, for now, when the ache stretches long into the night, I can rest in the hope that this pain has a purpose.

I am growing. And that’s a good thing.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” James 1:2-4 (NIV)

4 Comments

  1. Anita
    Oct 27, 2015

    Thanks for the new entry – it was getting “Blog-dry” and now we know why…although we should have realized it – we have been praying, and will continue. Those growing pains are oftentimes so incredibly hard – but when we look back, after God has accomplished His good work in us – for this time – we always see what an awesome God He is – and how He was there all the time guiding our steps. I’m sorry you were not able to be with your family – but your sacrifice will not go unrewarded… but you already knew that, didn’t you? God bless you all – and keep those blogs coming…they certainly do encourage me.

  2. Stacie
    Oct 27, 2015

    Beautiful! And oh, so painfully true. My favorite line…”but reality is not a gentleman.” Beth, praying for you and yours.

  3. Annemarie Salisbury
    Oct 27, 2015

    Love you lots! Hugs & prayers from SC.

  4. sasha
    Oct 29, 2015

    Beautifully said!!!

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