If we have learned anything about entering a conflict in the Middle East, it is the importance of having a sound exit strategy. But exit strategies have broad application and should not be confined to military studies. Planning an exit strategy is an important life skill.
Everyone understands what it means to grow up. From birth to adulthood, you are in a state of transition. Every part of your body grows. We see the physical changes, and we recognize developmental progress via language and behavior.
But eventually you stop growing up.
This is where you begin growing in.
When you are in a transitory phase of life, you should develop an exit strategy. Let’s use the “irresponsible phase” for example. This phase begins at the age when you are expected to act responsibly, but don’t (18 months), and continues indefinitely (or until your parents stop enabling you).
Developing an exit strategy for the irresponsible phase requires two conditions be satisfied:
- The irresponsible phase must be recognized
- The next target phase must be identified
For this example, you may identify the “responsible phase” as your target. You can hope to remain in this phase until death, at which point either your meaningless life will cease, or your meaningful life will continue in eternity (depending on your worldview).
When you’re growing in, you are in one of three states:
- Sliding backward
- Moving forward
Stagnation is where many people end up after they’ve stopped growing up. It’s coasting on life without thought or introspection. It’s going with what you’ve always known. It’s apathy. It’s a lack of vision and life without a plan.
Sliding backward is the state you fear. It’s giving in to temptation. It’s doing that thing one more time when you swore you’d never do again. It’s giving in and giving up.
When you recognize being in one of these two states, you must begin planning your exit strategy. Your goal is to begin moving forward. A catalyst can help with the transition. Maybe you’re newly married, or perhaps you’ve celebrated the birth of a child. Your life may be evolving into something even more wonderful than before.
But old habits and rituals may be weighing you down and stunting your growth. Your vices might be part of a phase of life meant to be outgrown. This is where it’s time to ask:
What am I growing in?
Growing In Christ
Christians have a peculiar phrase to describe spiritual growth: to be growing in Christ. To be in Christ means to be accepted into his family by accepting what he has done for you. He paid the price for the laws you have broken, for the evil in your mind, and the impurity in your heart.
Your actions deserve judgment. The verdict is guilty, and the sentence is death. But Christ paid the price in your place. To be in Christ is to know this, accept this, and to live a life of thanksgiving and praise. To be growing in Christ is to reap the rewards of a life infused with humility, where the ever-increasing light of God chases demons from the shadows of your heart.
To be growing in Christ is to move forward towards an ending with unparalleled significance, ultimate justice, and unending love.
What are you growing in?