Written by Emily Huggard
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of St Nic’s.
We can feel embarrassed about growing. We might be resistant to change or hesitant to admit that we had some growing to do. When someone notices that we have grown, it can seem like a backhanded compliment about our previous flaws. Yet, there is an innate feeling inside of us all, that we do actually need to grow. Every year, in the lead up to New Year’s Eve, we are encouraged by those around us to think about what our New Year’s Resolutions might be. A New Year means a fresh start, an opportunity to change, a chance to grow.
The Bible is clear that growing is a good thing. In Paul’s letters, he is always full of joy when he sees people growing in faith. He encourages Christians to see that it is good to grow. And he is always encouraging the early churches to keep on pursuing growth in Christ. He causes them to reflect on whether they are posturing themselves with an openness to grow. In Colossians 2:7, Paul urges the church to let their ‘roots grow down into him [Jesus], and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth’.
A month or so ago, I rediscovered an old diary from 2014 – written during my first and second year of university. It has been SO fun to remember what it was like to be eighteen and to rediscover the thoughts and feelings of ‘past me’! And aside from finding this diary immensely entertaining to read, I have been continually struck by the ways that I have changed and grown in these last six years. Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say – the ways that God has grown me.
I have grown in Biblical convictions. It’s easy to come to university, stubbornly settling in the beliefs we have grown up with. There are accounts in my diary of me arguing an opinion that I would now believe the entire opposite of. Whilst some of my convictions and beliefs were strengthened at university, I also grew in new convictions that I had never even thought about before. University is a time where we have space to explore and form the values we want to live by. Perhaps more importantly, it is not a time for stubbornness, but a time where we should be open to listening and learning from others and, most importantly, from God.
I have grown in rest. My method of working was so bitty when I was in my first year of university. I was always finding pockets of time to work in, and I never took a day off. Through my second and third years, I learnt the importance of resting and, more specifically, the importance of taking an entire day off each week. As a result, the rest of my working time became far more efficient and I learnt that the world keeps on going even when I stop (surprise).
I have grown in friendships. It’s fun reading about the people I spent time with during my first year of university. There are friends that I was close with then and am still close with now. There are other friends that I no longer see (other than on social media!). And there are accounts of meeting people for the first time, who have since become important friends to me. Friendships change. And that’s okay, we don’t need to keep hold of every friendship we ever have. Sometimes friendships are only for a season and I have grown in being okay with that!
I have grown in seeing the bigger picture. It has been fascinating to look back on the thoughts of my first-year-self with the beauty of hindsight. When I think back to the drama of finding housemates and a house, or notice the small everyday choices I made about choosing church over work, or letting my work time be interrupted by friends in halls, I can now see the bigger pictures that God was weaving. The bigger picture of God using me to bring others to Him and of developing His calling in me to the students of Nottingham. I’ve grown in looking out for the bigger story and to reflect on the present with a wider lens.
It’s good to grow. As I head into the next year, I’m confident that God will be doing His work of growth in me again. My confident hope and prayer is that we will all look more like Christ by the end of 2020, than we did at the start.