By Joyce Holdread
Special to The PREVIEW
Green apples, caterpillars, rising bread dough, tadpoles, adolescents — a real variegated jumble. What do they all have in common? They are in-betweeners, all shimmering stages in the process of becoming who they were created to be.
We are all in this same progressive journey, but at times we can feel stuck or discouraged by our immobility or lack of progress. Or, we may feel pressured by others, and even ourselves, to conform to certain standards of virtue or maturity we do not authentically possess at that time in our lives.
I remember it clearly: I was sitting alone on the piano bench in our living room, thinking with God. I had been feeling the pressure — mostly from myself — to be or act a certain way that I perceived was valued or expected from other believers in my life at that time. Also, I had a childhood filled with the awareness of lofty Christian ideals, so I recognized that the esteemed behavior was indeed selfless and mature, but I was not truly “there” yet.
“OK, God, I’m just a green apple,” I thought. I was feeling like God might even abandon me for my lack of mature desire. However, my longing to be genuine was stronger than the temptation to conform without authenticity. And then a quiet but firm sense came to me, “Joyce, green apples are good just the way they are.”
Our Creator made most life forms to progress through various stages. With human beings, this is more irregular and complex. Each of us grows at a varied pace or depth and in a different sequence, and God pulses alongside us at each step. He does not intend that we remain forever “green,” but that while we are in each station of growth, we are honest — and also free to relax and shine.
We slow down our growth when we refuse to trust God or cooperate with Him, but I don’t believe we can do anything to speed it up. Nor can we skip stages and expect to grow in a balanced and integral way. Growth takes time and comes when we are open to the Spirit of God. It flows forward (sometimes spurts or lags), adjusting to the pressures and predispositions of our lives. God has different loving and wise progressions for each of us, so trying to live according to the expectations of others only hampers our growth.
Apples are green during seasons of growth, until that first ripe red blush. But, this makes me wonder — whatever happened to Granny Smiths?
By Joyce Holdread