‘A bit more every day’

Published 8:12 am Thursday, January 10, 2019

I grew up in Gloucester Point, at the mouth of the York River. My parents still live in the house they bought when I was a year old. It was a brick rancher under a canopy of towering, long-needle pine trees. Every morning we would come down the bedroom hallway into the kitchen, through an open doorway. On the frame of that doorway were pencil marks (I didn’t do it!).

Each year at birthdays and the New Year, Mom would have us stand up against the doorframe and mark off our height. Heals back, head up straight. Let’s see how much you’ve grown. Now, almost 50 years later, that doorframe still stands, notched with names and dates. It is an archive of the ways we have matured, whether fast or slow, over time.

I’m no longer growing upward and trying hard not to grow outwards (oh the challenge of all those Christmas cookies!) But how else do we grow? If you and I were to measure ourselves from a year ago, would we notice any change?

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I am a Christian. This means that I am a person who relates to God through the love shown in Jesus, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. It also means that I am striving to follow Jesus’ example in the way he lived and to learn to be more and more like him. I confess that some days I do better at this, and some days I am way off. The gift of each day is that God gives me another chance to get back in the game and try again. It’s a learning process, and I learn as much from my stumbles as I do from my successes. A great teacher once said that we don’t truly fail as long as we learn something from the experience and apply it.

So what have you and I learned in the past year? How have we grown? Are we wiser? Kinder? Gentler? More gracious? More patient or reflective? More loving? More forgiving? The writer of Ephesians framed our purpose as Christians this way: “We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

Imagine if we took this to heart every day this year. It might surprise us how much we mature. Certainly, if we take it to heart, it will change us. It will also change our world.

REV. MICHAEL P. KENDALL can be reached at kendallmp@aol. com.