Growth Happens in the Secret Places

We forget that, sometimes.

It’s easy to think of growth as visible, obvious, easy to point to and say, “There it is.”

But it’s not.

We see the fruits of growth in others. The byproducts. We don’t see the actual growth, because that’s happening deep under the surface, where no one else can see.

That’s where it’s happening for you, too. Under the surface, in a place only you and God can see.

Sometimes only God.

So many times now, I’ve watched my kids struggling for days or even months to master something. Walking, talking, using the potty, sure, but then a host of other things besides. Dancing. Blowing a harmonica. Drawing a picture. Expressing a complex thought. Brushing teeth. Singing. Labeling emotions. Pouring a glass of milk. Jumping. Handling emotions. Turning the pages of a book. Recognizing numbers and letters and pictures. They would struggle and struggle and struggle and then, one day, it was like a switch flipped in their mind and it was all second nature.

But the activity wasn’t the growth. The growth is what happened in a place deep inside, where I couldn’t see. They didn’t just decide to be good at these things one day—they grew, they began to understand things they couldn’t understand, started processing the world in new ways, started integrating new things into the way they thought.

And then it all exploded outward in a way I could see it.

The point is, the growing is always happening. Always. It doesn’t matter if you can see evidence of it in yourself right away. It doesn’t matter if others can. If you stick with it, if you’re trying, it doesn’t matter how many times you feel like you’re beating your head against the wall—eventually, the switch will flip, and “suddenly” (to others, not to you) you’ll discover you aren’t where you were before. You’ve moved forward. You’ve grown.

Paul reminded Timothy to focus on the fundamentals of Christianity—to “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” To “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” Timothy’s job was to “practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:12-13, 15, ESV).

We grow in what we immerse ourselves in. And eventually—eventually—that progress becomes obvious to those around us. But the growth that leads to that progress is like a seed growing in the dirt. A lot of things are happening under the soil before the plant is ready to emerge, and when it does emerge, it always feels like it came out of nowhere.

But it didn’t come out of nowhere.

It was there the whole time. Changing. Transforming. Growing in ways no one else could see.

You are, too.

Immerse yourself in the things that matter, give it time, and you’ll start to see the proof.

Until next time,

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