If you ever get to come to my house to visit, over near the front door, in the living room, there’s a little stub wall that helps enclose our wood stove. And on that little wall, there are some incredibly important lines, carefully drawn over the past few years. The lines aren’t long. Barely noticeable, unless you know where to look. All of them have initials next to them, and dates when they were drawn onto the wall.
The the space between the lines records the periodic growth of two of my grandkids, Silas and Linnea.
I know that lines like the ones drawn on that little stub wall next to our wood stove probably don’t mean much to anyone else but us. But, they aren’t exactly unique to our family, either. You may not have a stub wall. You may not have a wood stove. But you very well could have a place of your own that marks growth, year by year, in the lives of your children or perhaps, your grandkids. In fact, when you were a kid growing up, you may have had your height and growth recorded with a line, and your initials, and a date carefully written next to some line. Lots of families enjoy looking back and noticing how growth has happened. Lots of homes have walls with lines drawn on them.
It’s interesting, I think, that those lines on the walls of our homes represent a precious reality. Little Johnny used to be this tall, and now, wow, look how he’s grown. Can you believe it? We protect those walls. We cherish those walls. Even when they need to be painted, we draw boxes around the ‘vital’ information, so it can be spared, saved, revered. Somehow, we don’t want to cover up the documentation to growth and change we’ve seen in the lives of our kids and grandkids.
Silas and Linnea came over the other night for pie. They’re getting a lot taller. Silas is in the third grade, Linnea is in the 6th. And as part of our evening together, I thought it might be good to take some time to measure, investigate, and, well … draw another line on the wall. Turns out, as both of them took turns standing up next to the wall with their backs extra straight, almost proud of how tall they were, when I measured the tops of their heads, they had both grown more than three inches since the last time we made a mark on the wall. Now, new lines have been freshly drawn to celebrate the growth of two extraordinary people.
Both of my grandkids were proud of those new lines. Pleased with the progress and growth those lines on the wall represent. As they left to go home, both of them paused slightly as they passed that stub wall over by the front door. Silas smiled a bit, and touched his line. Pleased. He seemed very pleased with himself, and how much he had grown.
I noticed some different lines when I shaved this morning. Lines in my face that marked the day-to-day-ness of where I’ve been all my life. Pretty rare for me to notice one of those lines and take pride in it. More often than not, when I notice a new wrinkle, take note of a new ‘line’ on the wall of my life? I rarely associate that kind of line with something like growth or maturity.
I wonder why that is? Seems to me those lines were meant to be displayed on our faces because they mean something, not only to us … but, perhaps even more importantly, to other people we may encounter who need encouragement. And the space between those lines is called ‘growth’ and ‘experience’ and ‘trust’ and ‘faith’.
The Apostle Paul must have thought that, too. He wrote to the Philippians about his own life:
“ … if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” If lines on a wall represent growth and maturing in the life of a child? I only pray the lines on my face, and the space between those lines in my life demonstrate ‘growth’ and ‘experience’ and ‘trust’ and ‘faith’.