Everyone grows old, but not everyone grows up. Growing old is easy; all we need to do is nothing. On the other hand, growing up takes choosing to mature regardless of what we’ve experienced in the past. It is not someone else’s job to make sure you grow and mature into a healthy person who will actually live for a purpose; that’s your job. It’s not our parents’ responsibility, our pastors’ responsibility, our spouses’ responsibility, or even a mentors responsibility.
We are the ones who are responsible for our own personal growth. Mature men/women don’t blame other people for problems they can actually do something about. While God is certainly our protector and our provider, God does expect us to choose to renew our minds on a regular basis. This allows us to remain qualified for the destiny He’s got planned our us.
Maturity is what happens when you go through the fire and come out of it encouraged. Many times God will put us through a test to see whether or not we’re really ready to handle what we’re asking Him for. Wisdom and maturity aren’t free; there’s a price to pay for them.
The Painful Maturity Purification Process
God tests us in a similar way that gold is tested with fire. If gold remains in it’s natural unmodified form, it doesn’t look very nice and it may not be worth hardly anything. We all have gold and beauty within us, but that beauty will never be revealed unless we’re willing to go through a character refining process. The refining process could include maturing and gaining wisdom through terrible experiences like going bankrupt, molestation, rape, abandonment, suicidal tendencies, betrayal, physical abuse, etc.
You can’t control the things that happen to you in this life, but you can choose to either respond or react to what happens to you. Most people choose to react to what happens to them which stunts their growth and causes a regression in their character. Maturity can never happen if all we do is react to what happens to us in our lives.
People who live in reaction to problems will constantly live in “fight or flight” mode whenever something happens that reminds them of the problem.
My Own Maturing Process
In 2013 I dated a woman for a short period of time, and eventually, that relationship came to a terrible and dramatic breakup. After we stopped talking to each other, I dreaded even driving by the coffee shop her and I used to meet at. I used to take side roads just to avoid driving past that coffee shop because I didn’t want the memories of that terrible relationship to plague my mind.
But then one day I heard God tell me to not only start driving by the coffee shop on purpose, but He also told me to start meeting with friends for coffee at that specific coffee shop. While doing the very thing that I was afraid of doing may not sound like a good idea, over time, I created new memories at that coffee shop and the terrible memories I used to have no longer plagues my thoughts.
I don’t think I will ever forget the terrible things I experienced in that dating relationship, but the memory that used to be extremely painful is now just a mental scar. When fear no longer controlled my life, I started to even see my own imperfections and how they contributed to that breakup. At the end of the day that dating relationship simply wasn’t God’s will for either of us, but facing my fear helped me to see her as a beloved daughter of God.
What happened was that I allowed God to reprogram my brain so that I was not controlled by a fear of bad memories, but I was transformed by the love of God. I wish I could say that once we face our fears, it gets easier to face them every time thereafter, but unfortunately, that’s not always true.
While it may feel nice if I were to say that maturity gets easier the more we choose to grow, the truth is that maturity gets harder as we continue to push and break through a greater level of glory. It’s not called breakthrough for nothing. As we move through the purification process, the pain intensifies. There may even be sleepless nights on the road to maturity. But if we stand firm to the end, we’ll gain the wisdom and strength required to mature and become a catalyst that will reshape the course of history.
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