When my kids were little and learning how to walk they would get frustrated each time they would fall. But, with resilience, they kept getting back up to try again. Each one of them conquered the wobbly steps and face plants. Early on I would rush to them to pick them up, and then I realized that getting back up on their own with just my encouragement was what would drive them to achieve taking those steady steps. At that age kids don’t have a fear of not being able to walk, they simply keep trying until they “get it”. That is just one of the aspects of how our children can teach us.
Fast forward to the teen years. The drivers license is the right of passage in our culture. And, even though intimidating, most teens will boldly get behind the wheel and start out with confidence in their ability. Shortly after, they realize that there is more to staying in your lane than what they had originally thought. Even so, they keep practicing, with the parents knuckles clenched in the passenger seat, while giving them “pointers” along the way. And, just like walking, they simply keep trying until they “get it”.
I was thinking about how I sometimes get stuck in fear of getting back up after stumbling or crossing over the line into the wrong lane. We all come across obstacles in our lives that require us to keep trying until we “get it”. I have personally faced those obstacles in my marriage, friendships, career and even my faith. Honestly, there have been times when an area of growth seemed so hard I didn’t want to ever “get it”. It seemed easier to stay right where I was at. The problem with that is the pain of sitting down in defeat hurts more than the pain of persevering.
So what changes along the way that replaces a determination to never quit with self-doubt and fear? I have heard that as we get older our mortality sinks in, or that our experiences along the way impact our confidence. Although I believe that both of those contribute, maybe it’s something more basic that is missing. Maybe it’s that we loose encouragement along the way as we grow. The toddler learning how to walk has hands that reach out to pick them up, and encouragement to keep trying until they can run. The new driver receives instruction over and over until they can drive on their own. Even if they perceive that instruction as pestering or complaining, they are given valuable lessons that help them develop the skill. I wonder how many obstacles we would conquer quicker or easier if we had that consistent encouragement and instruction along the way.
Too often our obstacles remain hidden. Sometimes it’s because we don’t like admitting we have an area of growth, other times it’s because we’re afraid of rejection and criticism. When we look at what God has to say about it, we are called to encourage each other. To walk along side those who are growing, and to build them up. But, we cannot forget that we need others to walk along side us as well, receiving encouragement to overcome our own obstacles of growth. Who is in your life that you can offer encouragement to today? Who needs to know that they aren’t alone? What are you struggling with? Who are you being honest with about your own growth areas? And now, the bigger question … what are you going to do about it?
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Peter 4:8-10
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.