There is an old Wayne Watson song called Growing. The chorus goes ... "I'm growing, I don't like it, I'm growing, but it hurts. I love You, but I'm tired. I guess I've got a lot to learn ... I guess I've got a lot to learn." It is a song about growing pains.
I know what I am about to share will be totally logical for some of us and totally foreign to others. Some of us are full ... satisfied ... perfectly good with the status quo ... having an "I'm good" mindset. Others are seeking to be filled ... striving to go toward the new that God has planned for you ... having a growth mindset. Which is you?
When I was in seminary and even after seminary through counseling training we had to read a book called Generation to Generation by Edwin Friedman. While the book is useful to understand family processes happening within Church congregations, it is embedded in a classic attitude of "we are who we are." Modern philosophy and modern education has been stuck in this attitude for at least the last 200 years. This attitude says we 'are who we are' ... our character is either inherited or part of our genetic makeup ... we are hardwired to be the person we are. I could talk here about theological ideas like predestination and even the inevitability that we are all going, hopelessly, toward our genetic programming. I won't go there for two reasons. First, there is a new line of thinking that totally disagrees (scientifically) with this concept. That new genre' is called brain-plasticity and it holds promise for all sorts of disorders including Alzheimers and stroke victims. Second, I will place my believe in Scripture which says ... "Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:2). God seems to believe we can change ... from old to new ... from sinner to saint ... from death to life.
I recently heard the story of Josh Waitzkin. This chess master and genius was at the top of the world. But Josh had something special that many I meet do not seem to appropriate. In the midst of intellectual and academic success (age 21) he decided that it was a good, healthy and holistic thing to challenge himself with new learning. He suffered injuries and broken bones to learn and master martial arts. He became a world champion at Tai Chi by seeking to grow, learn and expand. And he did this (I believe) because of three things I find in this wonderful passage from Romans. He 1) knew people were not designed to be widgets made to conform to the world ... we each have a spark of the divine, 2) he realized that renewal of the mind was not only possible ... it was part of the beauty of how people are made, and 3) he realized that the attitude of entitlement that tells us 'we have arrived' was a lie ... for Christians this lie lets us stay in the stasis of inaction and stagnation (I believe much to Satan's delight).
We will revisit this spiritual discipline from a different direction during Lent (based on Psalm 139) but for now we will stay with my belief we can grow, learn and change from our entitlement to our commissioning. God didn't make us to stand on our entitled pedestal and look down at a world that we say is dying and being led astray. I think God made us to become guerrilla warriors that see their surroundings as something to adapt to, overcome and even win. Our minds were created to grow ... our Savior is calling us to change ... our world needs us to become those who are so transformed (process ... not event) that the world looks at us and says, "That is exciting, that is appealing, THAT is living!" Randy