Searching back for things learned and to learn, the past few years have revealed weaknesses in me I would hardly have realised.
As I look back, I feel either embarrassment or courage — maybe both — and, as I consent to God having His way in me, I’ve learned every failure was His will. So, therefore, I’m not embarrassed, even if I did think I was further along the road to maturity than I was.
In Christian faith, we crave maturity. We want to ‘be there’ already. To have arrived. To be sought after. To win praise. To know in both head and heart that we have it all together. These are the yearnings of both the Spirit and the ego within us. The Spirit in us wants us to serve and to bless people. The ego in us wants to avoid the painful ‘pitfalls’ of growth and is happiest when failure is saved for others.
Yet, maturity is nothing about having ‘arrived’ at all — for we never ‘arrive’.
Maturity is about dealing maturely with immaturity…
In ourselves, without shame, guilt (unless it evokes repentance) or embarrassment; with fortitude and patience. We want to deal with ourselves in the mode of acceptance that reflects how we see ourselves — as a person made preciously in the image of God; we’re on a journey with God through a life that deals with us. How we deal with ourselves when we fail and fall is symptomatic of how humble we are. We are responsible in how we call ourselves to account, but we’re also gentle with ourselves, committed to our recovery.
Maturity is about dealing maturely with immaturity in others. We deal with them in the manner of grace and patience, without judgment or condemnation. We want to deal with others, also, in the mode of acceptance that reflects how we see them — as persons made preciously in the image of God; persons on a journey with God through a life that deals with all persons. How we deal with others when they fail and fall is symptomatic of how mature we truly are. We gently hold people to account, but we’re also quick to encourage them as they recover, believing in them, offering them a redemptive pathway.
Amid failure, mature people deal gracefully with themselves and graciously with others.