"enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. for you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities."
the last six summers, for a few days in july, jared and i have had the honor of being apart of meeting with all the staff and spouses of our church for our annual staff advance. the theme this year was "stretch marks" and it was all about the skills it takes to allow yourself to grow and stretch and how we do it together as a church. there was so much wisdom and it really hit a nerve that i feel like the Lord has been speaking to me lately.
a few days before, i had been reading a chapter from a book called "loving the little years: motherhood in the trenches" by rachel jankovic. it's a short book with chapters that read more like devotionals and it is so helpful.
the first time i read it there was a paragraph that stood out. it was right around winnie's second birthday and she was determined to quit naps. getting her to slow down and stay in her room took nothing short of a miracle (and that miracle wasn't coming.)
in the chapter, she's talking about change in your routine and growth spurts in your home and your children and she says:
"whenever this happens, this ambiguous restlesstness in the house, i try to think of it as a growth spurt. it is like all my children have a growth spurt at the same time and develop new needs. this is only a problem when mom doesn't have a growth spurt herself . it's even more of a problem when mom refuses to have one and demands that everyone else gets back into clothes that are too tight. just like the wine and the wine skins, you can't make the old schedule work with the new needs. naps, when filled with children who no longer need them, crack open and make a big mess."
since we were very literally going through the same scenario at the time it stuck out to me, but over time it stayed with me. the picture of my resistance to growth looking like the wineskins that jesus talks about in luke 5:37-38:
"and no one pours new wine into old wineskins, otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. no, new wine skins must be poured into new wineskins."
as we move on to new stages and settle into what is "normal" at each stage of life, it is so easy for me to get comfortable and to want to go back to "old wineskins." and being comfortable makes growth a foreign object, something that like a virus that we fight against.
and the thing is my kids aren't just growing physically. sure, there are physical hurdles to get over, like learning to live in days without naps. but truthfully, for me, the most stretching things go beyond naps and pacis and things that seem more concrete.
like, what about when i realize that my child's strengths line up right with my weaknesses. the things that come so naturally to her are so many of the things that i feel like i am still grasping to learn. and in order to help her grow into who the Lord made her to be, i'm going to have to do a lot of growing, too.
i have to choose that growing and having some stretch marks is far better than not growing and eventually bursting open.
so, with lots of grace, i want to grow well.