Something I’ve discovered in life is everyone doesn’t know what I know and everyone has to learn for themselves. Of course we have parents, teachers, mentors and friends but it’s ultimately up to us with what we choose to with the knowledge we’ve acquired. With that, I can’t always expect for people to act how I think they should act or even to respond how I think they should respond.
How often do have I expected perfection from others? Sometimes, I’ve found myself expecting everyone to be perfect. I’ve done this with Christians and non Christians alike. Which left me thinking about how often we—myself and included—have expected other Christians or every Christian to have it all together. I recently witnessed something where a newer Christian was involved. Basically, someone condemned them for something they didn’t know. I’ve probably done this too, so no shame at anyone!
That leads me to ask, how often do we expect new believers to behave perfectly? From experience I know all too well that growth takes time—I’m sure we’re all aware of this. And growing up spiritually is a little different from natural growth in that sometimes we don’t have all of the support we received as children. Sometimes, adults don’t receive the same grace from others as babies do. BUT, that doesn’t mean we can’t or won’t receive the help/support we need…
Let’s take a brief look at the natural growing process. We grow through stages. We start as dependent individuals. We need mom and dad for everything. Mom and dad don’t mind because that’s just apart of the process. It’s apart of having a baby. Then we get to the point where we can sit up on our own and not long after we’re crawling. Now mom and dad, because they love us and want to keep us from being hurt, baby proof the whole house. They put up those dividers that prevent the baby from crawling up or down the stairs, etc.
Eventually, the baby tries to stand up and walk. This is exciting! Mom and dad join in and hold the baby’s hands to help with the walking process. The baby falls and gets up and tries again. All throughout this growing process, mom and dad never complain. In fact, they think it’s cute! They’re patient and they realize that this is just a baby. Give them time and they’ll get it. They will be walking in no time!
What if we had this same patience with others? What if we were patient with the new Christian, the unbeliever, the person in the world, and that hard to deal with coworker? All the while realizing that they too are growing. If they’re not a believer yet, consider that they are an orphan that is in need of love. And if they’re a new believer, remember that they’ve just been born and they too need to grow. They need to drink their milk and be fed. They need to be cared for and dealt with fragilely. They are still babies and have not fully developed yet.
I “claimed” Christian all my life. But as I got older, what was seen on the surface did not match my claim. For a long time, I believed that Christianity was something you take seriously when you’re an adult. I realize now that that was a lie but at the time, it was my truth. There’s always some lie presented to us. But if we’re not helped, if we’re incapable of seeing it for what it is or even realizing that it’s there, then how do we change? How do we grow?
We learn by example. This may or may not be true for all, but it is definitely true for me. I believe that is how God is too. Think about it, “We love because HE FIRST loved us.” We learned to love because God loved us first. Not only that but what about in giving and serving? Think about the chain reaction those acts create. I can say for myself that I am beyond grateful for the parents, teachers and mentors I’ve had and I want to share with others in the same way that they’ve shared with me. I want to give out what I’ve received and more. Why? Because they taught me the value in giving by showing me what it looks like, what it yields and what it can do in time. They taught me by example.
I think it’s time that we were patient with EVERYONE. I’m talking to ME TOO!! I mentioned earlier how it seems we lose grace for adults—not all of us do but I think it’s easy to assume that everyone should know what to do. Let’s be real, common sense is not really that common. We have no idea the lives people have had to live nor the things they’ve gone through, it’s ok to help them. It’s ok to be kind.
Here’s the thing, we don’t have to solely depend on others to help us. Help is nice BUT we have the Perfect Helper—the Holy Spirit. I’ve found that when I felt alone in the growing process, He’s been there to help AND God has divinely placed the right people in my life at just the right time. It’s important that we don’t lose hope or allow things to hinder us from growing. People can only do so much, they can only help so much. What I love about God is that He’s so patient with us and He understands our human frailty. Not only is He patient with us but He gives us the grace to grow!