How do we go about gaining spiritual maturity?

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Answered by: Carol, An Expert in the Christianity - General Category
Gaining Spiritual Maturity

Dear Dad,

Can it be these many years have passed and I've never

told you about a memory I carry deep within me —a

memory about us, one that continually warms my heart

toward you and toward God in a very special way? You've



always been my hero, but on one extraordinary day you



became my superhero.

My teenage years were difficult. I struggled with peer

pressure, an unsteady faith, battles with immodest fashions,

and attention from the wrong set of boys. As if that weren't

enough, I was highly conscious of my role as “model”

pastor’s daughter. I really wanted to please you in this role

because I knew you desired to be an effective pastor.

During this time, however, I began to see you in a

different light. Instead of having a dad living at home, the

pastor lived at my house. The pastor rushed to and from

meals, coming home late from board meetings… the pastor

was often away on trips… the pastor rushed to emergency

calls… the pastor needed to be alone to concentrate on

sermons, board agendas, and church programs, not to

mention the daily tension of carrying the burdens of the

people. I missed my old, fun-loving dad. Instead of

receiving attention from him, I felt the scrutinizing look of

the pastor when you looked my way. “Are you being the

example you should be?” was the unspoken question I

heard.

I've always known that you were deeply committed to

God, and I didn't doubt your commitment during my

adolescence. I had complete confidence in your faith and in

your commitment to your Christian heritage. You loved the

ministry, and often I felt a daughter’s pride while hearing

you pour out your heart and soul with the abundant energy

that characterizes you. But sometimes I was jealous of your

“first love.” I had a pastor, but where was my daddy when I

needed him to listen to me?

I longed to talk heart-to-heart without the fear of being

rejected. Maybe my questions wouldn't be important

enough for such a busy man, I reasoned. Maybe they would

be irreverent and alarming to my dad, the pastor.

I had so many questions, most relating to my identity

and my developing value system. Mom and I often had

great chats about boys, about God, about the church, and

about things I would hear at school, but somehow I felt that

I couldn't get the whole story unless I heard it from you. I

longed for a dad who would give unconditional love.

Fear and disappointment built a wall between us. When

we were together— at dinner, during trips, and at family

prayer—I felt the frustration of both of us. Real

communication was awkward; you often spoke in haste,

and I thought you didn't really hear what I was trying to

say. I knew you meant well in your concern for me; but

instead of seeking your conversation, I avoided it. Alone in

my room, I would think, “Dad just doesn't understand me.

If we could ever really talk, he might see confusion,

insecurity, and honest searching in place of rebellion.”

And then came that special day in which you turned

into a superhero. What a memory! I'm curious as to

whether you remember it, too.

One night after supper the family was seated in the

living room for devotions. I remember now with shame that

I was sitting in my chair, defiant and withdrawn, hoping

that devotions would be over in a few minutes. Shortly,

though, I realized that the schedule would be different that

night. You sent my sister out of the room, and I braced

myself for what I thought would be a major “bawling out”

of threats and heated prayers. But I'll never forget what

happened next—I don't think I've ever gotten over it.

With the most beautifully broken spirit I've ever seen in

a man and with many tears, you poured out your heart

apologizing for not being the father you meant to be, the

father God wanted you to be. You said you were sorry and

pleaded for my forgiveness. You committed yourself to

seeing that things would be different. Your specificity and

sincerity in that confession pierced my heart; my wall of

resentment crumbled quickly. You disarmed me. Our

battling was over. I will never forget how good it felt to be

close and important to you again.

That night was a turning point in our relationship. You

said things would be different, and they were. As time

passed, I became convinced of your sincerity. Many times

since that night, you've laid aside your busy schedule for

me, proving your awareness of my needs and your choice

to make your involvement in my life a priority. Through the

years you've been sensitive to keeping the channels of

communication open, and I treasure that.

In fact, you proved your love to me again this morning

in a long distance phone call. I was moved to tears when,

voice filled with emotion, you said you loved me and were

praying for me. Dad, I can go on the strength of that for a

long time. Living with your love and your approachability

has helped me know that my Heavenly Father is also loving

and approachable. This is gaining spiritual maturity.

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