I often use stories from my family for my blog. However, in this blog, I had decided to go a different direction, and I was not going to use any stories in relation to my family as an illustration. But then my 4-year-old does something this week that was just too good to pass up.
My family and I went out to eat this past week, and as usual, Grayson says in the middle of dinner, “I have to go potty.” Jennifer and I have now potty trained three children, and it still amazes me how each one of them always had to go to the bathroom right after our food was delivered to our table.
So, I get up and take him to the bathroom. He takes care of his business and then washes his hands. He goes over to the hand dryer that is on the wall and he begins to wave his hands underneath the dryer. The problem is, this dryer is not motion sensitive. It is one of the old-school hand dryers where you actually have to push the button. I realize that Grayson has no idea how to turn this dryer on
I said to him, “You have to push the button.”
He said, “What button.”
I said, “The big button on the front.”
As I finish washing my own hands, I turn back around and I see him touching the button on the front of the hand dryer with his finger without applying any pressure. Basically, he was touching the button the same way he touches the touch screen on my phone or iPad.
I said to him, “No Grayson, you have to push the button all the way in.” I walked over to the dryer and I pushed in the button and said, “Like this.”
In this moment, I began to see even more the way things have changed. When I was a kid, the push button hand dryer hanging on the wall was a technological advancement from paper towels. Then I remember when the motion activated dryers came out. These dryers were not the norm, and I would see people try to figure out how to get them to turn on. Now, the motion activated dryers are the norm, and for my son, the idea of actually having to make the effort to push a button with force was a foreign and confusing idea.
What’s the point? In our lives, our history is very important to how we do life.
Grayson had no history with the push button hand dryer, so he didn’t know how to use it. Then as he tried to figure out how to use the dryer, he put it in the context of what he knew. In his world, the only buttons he’s ever had to push are on touch screens. So, he tried to push the button on the dryer like a touch screen. I, on the other hand, had experience with these types of dryers, and I knew how to use one.
As we grow in our relationship with God, we will inevitably rely on our history to help us navigate our future. This is not specifically a bad thing. Our history can give us wisdom as we step into our future.
But we must be careful not to allow our history to become more of a hindrance than a help. Many of us have experienced some dark times in our past. And if we’re not careful, these dark places from our past can become weights that stop us from growing the way God wants us to grow.
So how can we make sure our history is a place of wisdom for our future instead of a wall that blocks our growth? Face it, and deal with it.
One of the most common mistakes we make is refusing to examine our painful life experiences. Everything from our history has helped to shape who we are today. When we refuse to look closely at our history we cannot become self-aware. And if we cannot become self-aware, we cannot grow.
With over 20 years of pastoral ministry experience, along with my observations of my own life, I am convinced that the single greatest obstacle to spiritual and emotional growth is a lack of self-awareness.
Psalms 139:23-24 (NKJV): "23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
When David writes this Psalm, He is not asking God to search him because God needs to know if there is any wicked way. God already knew everything about David. David is asking God to search him and reveal to him any wicked way in his heart. In other words, David is saying, “Show me my junk.” David then goes on to say, “and lead me in the way everlasting.”
The only way God can lead us into spiritual and emotional growth is if we start with self-awareness. And the only way we can find self-awareness is if we are willing to face the dark places of our past, and let God take us down the journey of victory.