I’ve always loved flying in planes For me, the best part is getting to see landing and takeoff from the window seat. These last two plane rides were no different; well, except for one thing.
I could tell very clearly that I was entering a new phase in life.
While I was sad to see Miami, my hometown, get smaller and smaller as we ascended into the sky, seeing Phoenix right before we landed made me proud. Here was my new home and, for the first time, I was really happy to call it that; “HOME”.
It made me think about the many phases I’ve been through in life, both before and after knowing Christ. We all go through phases, sometimes for the better, and sometimes not so much.
For instance, when I was first saved, I found myself at a church that would scoff at the doctrines I hold close to now. But for the phase I was in on April 25, 2010, the day everything changed for me, that church was more than okay. It, too, has gone through its own phases. It has a different lead pastor, associates with a different group of people, and seems very different from the one I attended back in 2010.
When you have children, you can see some of these phases more clearly. My youngest daughter is a little over a year old, but I can clearly see how much she has grown when I look at newborn photos of her. The same can be said of my eldest daughter. This past week in Miami, many family members who hadn’t seen my almost 4-year-old for a while said the same thing upon seeing her; “wow, she has grown!”. Each phase has its blessings, but each phase also has its own unique set of challenges.
Politically, we can go through phases as well. In 2008, when I first started college, I was a proud “College/Young Republican”. I read conservative sites, watched conservative news, and thought Democrats were stupid and naive (we’re talking Pre-Jesus here, so please give “B.C. Christina” some grace). Now? I don’t consider myself a Democrat, but I am certainly no Republican. Both parties have issues, especially along their retrospective extremes. I think there is some good in both, but also some bad. I consider myself a Christian Independent who leans left on some things, but leans right on others.
Marriages go through phases. Relationships start with two people not knowing each other very well and, through time and work, getting to know each other better. Then you get married and you really get to know people! You grow as a person when you realize God can (and does) use your marriage to make your own flaws obvious. And while I’m not there yet, I know that marriages can (and do) blossom into lifelong partnerships that have withstood the test of 25, 50, even 75 years!
Friendships go through phases. In 2011, I had a core group of friends that I believed I would stay friends with for several years to come. Now? I’ve lost touch with many of those same people. Moving throughout the years, to two cities no less, has made it harder to not only keep old friendships active, but create new ones. I just now am beginning to feel more “settled” in Phoenix, but trying to create friendships that last as a stay at home mom of two kids, with one family car, who lives 20 minutes away from church is proving to be a bit difficult (to say the least).
We even go through phases in our walks with Christ. When I was first saved, I knew little about theology and doctrines, but like a young infant, I was hungry to get to know my Lord and Savior. I read every book I could get my hands on (which is a good and bad thing). I was always in the Word, any chance I could get (a blessing of being single with no children? Time). Then there was a phase when I knew of sound doctrine, but I belittled every person who didn’t agree with everything I believed (because Christina always knew better than everyone else). Not exactly the most “Christ-like” way to approach theology, but thankfully, the cage-stage is over. Now? I still believe in those same five points (jokingly referred to as “7 points”), but I don’t belittle those who don’t. I can feed the homeless alongside someone who believes in “free-will” and know we are both glorifying and serving God. I’d love to have a conversation with them about election and how the Bible supports it, but I’m not going to condemn a brother or sister in the faith because of it. And “election” shouldn’t dominate all my conversations with others; Jesus should be at the forefront, not simply doctrine.
Life goes through phases. Sometimes, we do need a friend to point our flaws in our thinking and lovingly guide us back to Christ (and Gospel-centered teaching). Sometimes, we’re that friend to someone else. Sometimes we’re right. Sometimes, not so much. Sometimes, we can feel loved just sitting with someone else over coffee for a few minutes and talking about trivial things like music or movies. Other times, we can be in a crowded room for hours and still feel completely alone.
The body of Christ will never all be in the same phase together…and that is a good thing. How can we learn from one another if we all have the same strengths and weaknesses? If I am prideful, it will take a humble Christian to point that out. If I am angry, it will take a level-headed Christian to help me with that. If I am selfish, only a selfless person could guide me. If I am prone to gossip, the one who isn’t will be the one to keep me accountable. If I want to learn about doctrines, I go to the one who has already known for quite some time. And if someone else wants to learn, and I know, I can teach them. If I am straying away from the Bible, it will take someone who hasn’t to bring me back. And if I see a brother or sister straying from sound teaching (on those “close-handed issues” that the Bible is very clear on, it is my staying firm but loving with them that may, indeed, bring them back. And if we begin to disagree on an open-handed one? It’s not my place to become angry and see them as suddenly unsaved, but to love them despite our differences and come together for the sake of Christ and the Gospel.
We all go through phases and, while I am sad to see some come and go, I am excited to see what God has in store for me and my family, in our new home, here in Phoenix, AZ.
Grace & Peace.