Growing in Grace

Slow Growth Through Ordinary Moments

My jaw dropped when my four-year-old daughter willingly donned her puddle jumper and sauntered into the water without protest. Holding onto her daddy’s hand, she laughed as the foaming cold waves slapped against her thighs. She yelled for them to go deeper, and eventually I could only make out the tops of their goldens heads.

I snapped a hundred photos, waved at her from afar, and laughed at my anxiety leading up to our beach trip. After three summers of my daughter squalling anytime a drop of sea water dared touch her, she now dove into the ocean like a mermaid.

Sitting back down in my beach chair, I smiled at her growing courage—her willingness to try new things and to take new risks. The change seemed to have happened overnight, but as I watched her and my husband bob in the water, I realized there were little moments of growth leading up to this.

Her recent obsession with mermaids.

Swim lessons helping her feel confident in the water.

Her thriving imagination that drives her to adventure.

Our repeated encouragement that she is, in fact, brave.

Her increasing trust that her parents will be there if she falls.

Maturing in countless little ways this past year turned my aquaphobe into a pink-suited fish. One of the blessings of motherhood is getting to bear witness to our children’s transformation. As a wave crashed over them and I heard her squeals of delight, I wondered if this is what my Heavenly Father feels when he watches his children grow in courage and joy in his good world.

Our culture craves the quick transformation. The before and after weight loss photo. The overnight kindergarten readiness plan. The one product that will change your life. The endless stream of “life hacks” reels. We buy into the marketing—hook, line, and sinker.

I’m not immune to the instant gratification impulse. I want to lose the baby weight, save money for vacations, and achieve my writing goals in miraculous timing. While developments that come slowly and steadily are not as glamourous, quick fixes rarely create lasting change.

The same impatient desires apply to my spiritual growth, as well. I want to finally be rid of my harsh temper and my prideful self-sufficiency. I want to always have the right, gentle answer for my children. I want to finally be bold enough to share my faith on a play date. I want to not struggle each morning to pick up my Bible before I pick up my phone.

Yet God is not in the business of “get-rich-quick” growth. He’s interested in slow, deep transformation that happens in the most ordinary of moments. He builds his kingdom not on the biggest and quickest (yet transitory) changes, but on ordinary and steady (but eternal) flourishing. But since we’re often focused on overnight success, we miss the little ways God is working in us day after day.

A few weeks ago in our small group, the leader asked where we had seen God’s faithfulness in our lives. At first, the big miracles of the past came to mind—provision for our adoption, salvation of a family member, healing for my mother. Yet the question tugged at something deeper, something simpler. While I could have named any one of those momentous events, I shared about a mundane Tuesday a few weeks prior.

It had been a doozy of a day. My childcare had fallen through. My husband unexpectedly had to work late. My kids lost all ability to listen and obey. Yet I was able to pivot and take my children to the playground without feeling resentful. I responded to my husband’s ill-timed news without a passive aggressive word. I served my children dinner at 5:30 p.m. and still had a couple more hours of patience within me.

When I fell exhausted into bed at the end of the day, I marveled at the miracle of that Tuesday. Only a year (or even a month) before, a long hard Tuesday would have resulted in quick anger, harsh words, and sparse grace. Instead, with each day I learned to abide in him more, he implanted in me his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And on an ordinary weekday, God reaped a harvest of his ongoing, faithful, powerful work in me. God’s new morning mercies don’t appear as with flip of a light switch, but as the slow and steady rise of the morning sun.

As the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land, Moses encouraged God’s people to remember God’s past faithfulness to them. Not just the plagues against the Egyptians or the parting of the Red Sea or the victory against their enemies, but also, “You shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness,” (Deuteronomy 8:2).

Remember the bread from heaven and the water from the rock. Remember the guiding cloud by day and fire by night. Remember you didn’t have a single shoe wear thin. Moses knew remembering the everyday ordinary faithfulness of God would inspire the Israelites to faithfully follow him into the Promised Land.

It’s easy for us to see God’s faithfulness in the big moments of immediate supernatural provision. However, we need to stay alert for the little ways he is faithfully leading us. The ordinary ways he is changing us day after day. A desire of the flesh that wanes. Fruit of the Spirit that grows. A growing likeness to Christ himself as we behold him more every day. This summer, my daughter still needs her puddle jumper in the water, and my quick temper still gets the best of me many weary afternoons. Yet, I look forward to the day she’ll dive into the deep end without a floaty in sight. In the same way, I have hope, that day by day, year by year, God is growing me, changing me in the most ordinary of ways, until the day I finally see him face-to-face. “We know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “Ordinary Inspiration”.

4 thoughts on “Slow Growth Through Ordinary Moments”

  1. This is a beautiful reminder for me to search out the little successes of our day – the ones that aren’t always so easy to see when we’re in the trenches. Thank you Bethany for your lovely insight!

  2. Bethany, such a great reminder that our big God works in big ways even in our little and seemingly insignificant everyday things. HE is good.

  3. I just love this, Bethany. Such good words here. 💛 “He’s interested in slow, deep transformation that happens in the most ordinary of moments.” Yes and amen. 💛💛

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