The other day as I came in from the garage to the laundry room, I marveled at how messy the garage became over the winter. Too cold to do anything, everybody moves quickly through there and nobody picks up after themselves it seems. Combine that with two 100-lb Labradors who like to come in and wreak havoc, it looked like a small tornado had hit near the landing. I briefly remember the garage that I had so daringly cleaned last fall and garnished a frustrated look from my husband…the look that said “what did you do with my stuff?” How could so much get so messy that “clean” was just a memory?
Another memory caught my eye as I opened the door. I hadn’t noticed it in a long time. Hadn’t even thought about it really. There on the garage wall, just before you go in the house, were straight-line marks written in various pens, each with a corresponding name and date. As the kids have grown over the years, we’ve put a mark on the wall with a date and their name. It’s interesting how reality doesn’t always match up with my memory! I recall a couple of them growing so fast it seemed impossible. And yet, as I looked at the wall, while there were some remarkable growth spurts, there were a lot more slow and steady, bit by bit, marks than I remember. An inch here, an inch there.
One of the twins asked what the marks were. I explained that was how we kept track of how everyone grew in the house. But it’s something they’ve never experienced. In the constant moving of their short lives, we hadn’t taken the time or even remembered to mark their growth on the wall with everyone else.
Olivia immediately came in and asked her dad to mark how big she was. It took him a minute to realize what she was talking about. So he took them both out and marked the first mark for these identical twins on the wall.
I thought about how a daddy does that. I wondered if he looks at the lines the way I do. The year they first mowed a lawn, or played their first solo. The year they played soccer, or won a trophy, or started working. Each line by their father not only marked their height, but it set a level at a place in their life that commemorated growth in general.
The verse came to mind of Jesus in the temple, growing from a boy to man, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). The verse before even references how his mother treasured it all in her heart.
Sometimes we need a measure of our growth. We forget that we are not to just keep on doing, but we are meant to keep on growing. Marks on the wall. Marks on the heart of others. Marks the Father himself puts on a virtual wall that says “yes, they’ve grown, in wisdom and in favor” with God and man. Maybe it’d do us good to write down exactly where we are today…in our faith…in our ministries…in our families…. And maybe it’d do us good to check it in a month, in six months, in a year. Because memory of where we’ve been and where we are doesn’t always match up with reality.