It is a truism, but nonetheless true, that change is inevitable whereas growth is intentional. Even as I say this I am reminded of two seemingly contradictory, and yet equally valuable, perspectives on this. Francis Bacon said, “It’s not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong; not what we gain but what we save that makes us rich; not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned; and not what we profess but what we practice that gives us integrity.” He underlines the fact that growth is the product of the decisions we make. Henry Miller, on the other hand, said that all growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without benefit of experience. I would argue that they have both succeeded in describing facets of growth.
We need to make a decision to, as the proverb says, grow where we are planted, but as John Maxwell rightly points out, “If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” I agree with Jean Vanier that growth begins when we begin to accept our own weakness; and have found that the more I let go of inflated or distorted notions of myself the more I am able to see the ways in which I have been created in the image of a creator who’s fingerprint is a limitless capacity for intelligence, imagination and wonder – all of which can be unlocked and stewarded by grace. As I make my way on this neverending journey I find myself better understanding what e. e. cummings meant when he said, “We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”