How Do I Define Growth

Author - Emma Stanley

How have I grown since the start of The Fellowship? Well, how do I measure growth? What aspect of my life do I even look to? I don't know. I honestly have had a really hard time adjusting back into the routine that we barely started to establish before going to Maui. I still feel exhausted, not getting much sleep and trying to figure out how to balance my church people, family, and fellowship life. This program is immersive for a reason. There's a reason why we live together and don't just come in and out like you would a regular 9 to 5, and sometimes that is just so extremely hard. You'd think I would have figured it out by the first week, right? We're supposed to be here and get on each other's nerves so that we can work through how to biblically handle conflict. We're here to learn how to live in a Christian community and put each other first, how to have the hard conversations and love each other with all that we have, while also learning all the "Bible aspects." You know, the whole narrative, Christian living, worldview thing.

I sat on a call with my Momma and my Daddy, utterly distraught and confused, trying to find even a minuscule area from which I have grown. I sat in tears, tearing apart the month I've been here looking for growth and just finding more and more conviction. That's when my sweet parents so graciously began to tell me how they have seen growth manifest in me, how my conviction and my questioning are signs of growth. They shared how growth isn't so one-dimensional. It's not just a search for the fruits of the Spirit manifesting in my life. It's how God is changing me and shaping me over time.

So I'm learning what growth looks like, and how I've defined it in the past does not encompass the kind of growth I've been granted in this time at The Fellowship. I often am left questioning what we've discussed, yearning for more answers, and investigating what we've spoken about. I've struggled with what saving faith is, weighing John 3:16, James 2:16-17, Hebrews 10:26-27, and Hebrews 6:4-6 to understand the fullness of salvation and how we are to live out our sanctification. I mean, what a concept to look into in its completion. I have never been challenged so much as I have to defend what I have believed and been taught as I have in the past two weeks. I've had to seek out the passages that support my beliefs more than I ever have in all my 20 years. I've found myself frustrated with the lack of understanding I have inhabited and my want for answers. Then add not knowing how to speak what has been so confusing to me or not knowing how to reignite a conversation that I have finally found the passages to back on top of it all and multiply that by five, and you might understand where my brain has been. I am learning what it is to build the strong foundation laid upon His mighty name. What it is to rely on His strength and to take up my yoke with Christ (Matthew 11:28-30).

I'm learning how to wrestle with my questions, to take these passages I don't understand and go back to them as the Holy Spirit leads me to study The Word. Gaining an understanding of them instead of continuing in an "I don't know, but that's what the Bible says and I shouldn't question it" attitude. I'm growing in my understanding of when to question and when to let it rest because we aren't given the answer.

My life here at The Fellowship has been sweet and joyous, don't get me wrong on that, but it's also been challenging and not in the way you may be thinking. I came in with a theology backed by much of what I grew up with. Formed from what I've discussed with my parents and the countless sermons I've listened to and not nearly enough from what I have studied and pursued through Scripture. I have found that although my theology may not be wrong, it is weak without the scriptural backing it needs. So, the Lord has been taking my weak theology and reinforcing it. Taking it from the unsteady structure it has long been and pointing me to His Word so that the foundation and beams on which my faith is built are made of steel, scripture written on every inch of the space.

This probably wasn't the kind of blog that Arlie was expecting. He probably thought that it would be more along the lines of detailing the Maui trip and how that had impacted me so greatly, as I have detailed in my past blogs. Perhaps detailing how I've applied our time learning the hand signs and how I've been sharing them with my nephew and baby cousins, or maybe how the makeup of mankind has given me a divine revelation into how I commune with the Holy Spirit. He might even be wondering where in the world this all came from. But my story of growth has been much more quiet than all the happenings around it. More honed in on the Selah time that I've had, the late nights pondering, and the drives to and fro where I broke down our lessons and my time in The Word. My growth has been quiet, quiet enough for me to have to redefine my beliefs of spiritual growth to truly be able to see what the Lord has done in my life so far. I couldn't be more grateful for how He has already so graciously worked.

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