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Junior high years are known for their bittersweet growing pains. Not only do our bodies go through a complete physical and biological change, but they also begin to juggle questions of identity. Who am I? What do I like? Who do I want to become? For some, the answers to these questions unfold seamlessly, and for others, answers come through refinement.  Similarly, our first few days, months, or even years as a new believer can look and feel in many ways to us as our junior high uncertainty once felt. Whether it’s an expected radical change that didn’t happen, life’s problems not magically vanishing at the close of our salvation prayer, or our tempers not yet being an issue of the past, new believers can become discouraged in this beginning season. Why do I seem to be the same? You may be asking yourself.

Remember how I mentioned a complete physical and biological change occurs in junior high? Well, God has made you new (2 Corinthians 5:17) and placed His Spirit within you (Romans 8:9-11)! When you become a believer, you are born again. You have died with your sin and are given a new life in Christ. You have found the source of where your identity comes from. The foundation of your strength. The joy in your mornings. Your hope for the future. You have found your Redeemer! Amen, amen, amen. That is a lot. A lot has taken place within your body and soul that you may not yet see, but don’t allow the enemy to fool you. Change has occurred. The Spirit is within you, and now it is time to allow His Spirit to grow within you.

Growth. We often forget that there is a middle between every beginning and end. We remember the beginning for its excitement and newness as we remember the ending for its satisfaction and fulfillment. Still, truly it is in the middle of growing where we need to keep our eyes wide open, for that is where all of the beauty takes place. The middle is where we experience the presence and promises of the Lord. In the middle, in the waiting, in the growth.

So here you are, a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), but you look the same, have the same problems, live in the same world, and still feel exhausted from carrying your heavy heartaches. As a new believer, and truly for all believers, it is essential to remember these three truths.

1. The Truth of God’s Promises:

God did not promise to take away our problems in this world or change our circumstances. Quite the opposite, He said we can expect them. However, God is protective over His children. He equips us with everything we need to live, unwavering, in this world. From the beginning of time, God has held true to His promises. Protecting Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and many others, He remembered His promise to them as He led them through joyous moments, deep pains, and seasons spent wandering in the wilderness. He rescues us from our pits of despair and sets us on solid ground to walk with Him as our Shepherd. (John 16:33, Ephesians 4:11-16, 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

2. The Truth about God’s Spirit:

While we’ve been made new and received His Spirit to live within us, we can learn to call upon eternal gifts from the Spirit even on this side of Heaven. Allowing us to hear His guidance and experience the freedom He desires for us. As we come to our Father in stillness and quiet, seeking His heart in His Word, and deepening our relationship with Him, fruits of the Spirit within us will grow out of our lives and into the lives of those around us. We will experience His transformation powers. (2 Corinthians 3:18, Galatians 5:22-25, 2 Peter 1:5-8, Psalm 1:1-3)

3. The Truth about God’s Faithfulness:

He is faithful. God is faithful and working all things together for your good. God knew the exact timing of when you would give your heart to Him. He is prepared for you and has been working in your life long before now. Trusting in His timing, His great plan, and His faithfulness in this new life you’ve been given is the best thing you can do when lies creep into your mind saying you should be anywhere other than where you are in this very moment. God created time, time belongs to Him just as we do. Our trust in His desired goodness for us calms our hearts to know that where we are today is where He needs us to be. Remember, you are a whole new person stepping out of the beginning and into the middle of your story of life with God. You are the Lord’s and have been set apart for Him, He will answer when you call to Him. (Romans 8:28, 2 Thessalonians 3:3, 1 Corinthians 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 4:3)

As you hold onto these three truths, I encourage you to find someone in your Christian community that you trust. Write down all of your thoughts, fears, expectations, worries, or beliefs on what it should look like now for you as a believer and share them with that person. Pray, inviting the Spirit, who now lives in you, to receive guidance and clarity, peace, and excitement.

Don’t be discouraged, my brother or sister in Christ; our God is alive in you! We get to walk together with Him and grow His Kingdom, sing His praises, and bring Him all of the honor and glory. We are all together in the middle of our growth. As quickly as our first round of awkward junior high years flew by, so will this seemingly similar season of spiritual growing pains.  You are awakening the Spirit that has been sewn into your heart, lighting the wick to candle that never burns out. For He is Light, and His Light burns forever bright in the hearts of His beloved. Open your eyes with me, my friend, let’s walk together in faithfulness for the plans He has set before us, finding rest in His promises.