If we listed our key responsibilities, would paying attention to children’s progress make the list? It should. What if we listed the responsibilities we should have toward ourselves? Would paying attention to our growth make the list? It should.

Yet, in our busyness, with many important tasks at hand, much to be aware of, and no eyes in the back of our head to help us, do we consciously examine whether our children are maturing? Do we consider whether their responses to today’s difficulties are different from how they reacted six months ago? What about how they’re affected by good news? Any differences between then and now?Knowing whether we’re maturing might be even more important. How are we coping with less-than-great news? Have we been whining lately, or hosting pity parties? Do we turn to God more than in the past? Do we question Him and/or complain to Him more or less than we used to? And, what about when we get good news? Are our responses different from six months ago? Better, worse, or the same?
Several years ago, after a week’s speaking trip in Wisconsin, I arrived home one night at 7:00 p.m. The trip had gone well, but I was glad to be home. After being in my house for just a minute or two, I realized I heard something.

I walked toward my bathroom, and was alarmed to see the toilet tank overflowing! My first thought was about my Mom warning me against carpeting the bathroom when I bought the house. My second thought was something related to my lack of knowledge about toilets. Actually, I think I was screaming inside, I don’t know anything about toilets!! How can this be happening? I haven’t been here for days! I did know enough to try to turn off the water, but was unable to do so.

I decided to call the plumber. (Brilliant, I know!) Fortunately, I’m friends with his wife so I felt very comfortable calling their home. Mary answered immediately. I’m sure she heard the panic in my voice. She said she’d send someone over.

I went back to the bathroom and was finally able to turn off the water. By now, there was standing water in about three fourths of the bathroom.

Within minutes, a plumber arrived. He was great! He quickly fixed the toilet and then he asked me how I was going to take care of the water. I think I groaned. Inside, I was thinking, I leave in 20 hours for San Antonio and I’ve got tons to do. I don’t know what I’m going to do!

I left the bathroom to get my checkbook. Before I knew it, Buddy had lifted the carpet up and tossed it in the tub. Next, he borrowed a scissors, cut the pad, and tossed it in there, too. Now I’d be able to mop up the standing water.

I praised God, thanked Buddy, and asked him what I owed. I was amazed when he said, “Nothing. This one’s on the house.” Wow. What an unexpected blessing.You know what was really encouraging? My thoughts during this incident, including when I dragged the heavy carpet outside and struggled to hang it on the line, surprised me. Maybe they shouldn’t have, but they did.

I realized I wasn’t thinking or muttering under my breath, God, why did you let this happen? You know I’m tired and I have to leave again soon. I don’t think I deserve this.

In the past, I’ve reacted to similar incidents with exactly these thoughts. So, this time, when my only thoughts were prayers of gratitude to God for the amazing timing of my overflowing toilet, I was taken aback. I still remember smiling, on the way back in from the clothes line, as it hit me. I had matured.

I was encouraged by my attitude and response. And, I was overcome with a deep gratitude for God that surprised me. He had grown me. He had answered prayers that I would trust Him and please Him more. Praise Him!

I was reminded that one purpose in struggles is to see how far we’ve come . . . or not. But, since this event, I’ve purposed to examine myself much more regularly. I don’t want my response to challenging circumstances to be the only time I know if I’ve matured.We need to pay attention to our progress, and our children’s progress, too. We need to teach for it, expect it, affirm it, and be encouraged by it. Are we more quickly aware of our sin? Are we contrite? Are we more humble than we used to be? More ? Less argumentative? Less ? And, when we don’t experience growth, we need to ask why and we need to make changes so progress becomes the norm.

Hopefully you’ll recognize growth. I’m grateful for mine. To God be the glory!