SARAH HOLLIMON STAGG

Even though the talk around town has changed multiple times since the snow we got in February, the life lessons attached to that winter weather just keep coming. 

Earlier this month, as I passed Level Ground Fellowship out in North Crossett and noticed them tearing down what was left of their sanctuary, the thought occurred to me that sometimes progress looks like destruction. The weight of all that snow on Level Ground’s roof had made their sanctuary a dangerous place to tread. I heard early on through the infamous small town grapevine that that part of their building was a total loss and they were better off removing it. But it’s still jarring to see when the bulldozers and tractors show up and start tearing a church down.

On the surface, that is exactly what is happening. But a deeper look will show you what looks from one perspective like a church being torn down is — from another perspective — a structurally dangerous place being removed.  

And then when you take an even deeper look, yet another perspective shows you that destruction can actually be progress. I know a few church members at Level Ground, and if the theory that a group is a reflection of its leader is sound, then the pastor at Level Ground is a passionate and creative man. I have no doubt this tearing down will become a building up.

Might you have examples of this in your life? Times when you felt like your foundations were shaking in the wake of a large change? And in order for the changes, or progress, to be made, certain habits and situations had to be destroyed? Sure. It is part of the ever-happening growth process. 

None of us are exempt from that. Starting in our very early years, we are inundated by declarations of our growth. It surprises our cheek pinching aunts and hair mussing granddads. After summer vacation our classmates will notice things like new haircuts that make us look older. And our siblings will turn growth into a competition by saying things like, “You are shorter than me,” “Bet I can run faster than you,” and “Bet you can’t spell ‘elephant’.”

 That last example might not be so universal, but to my second grade self it was a perfect way to put my little brother in his place while illustrating to him my growing intelligence. After all, shortly after saying it I showed off my ability to spell it.

Perhaps growth is not more obvious than in classrooms around the nation. During my time as a substitute teacher at Crossett Elementary School, growth abounded. That goes without saying for the kids as the whole point of school is growth, but for the substitutes? I think I did more growing than the students. 

Not one known for patience, I swear I left the building after the last bell every day with marked improvement in that area — and the improvements came with what felt like destruction. 

During my time working for the City of Crossett as the assistant director of Parks and Recreation, my abilities in event planning evolved, giving way to an even larger platform for, among many other tasks, missions planning at Mt. Olive Baptist Church with the added layer of an honorable, God-minded mission. But during the difficult decision process to leave the city, it felt like destruction. 

Everything grows...or it dies. And sometimes in order to grow or progress, destruction has to happen.

Just before the Crossett City Pool reopened two summers ago, the pool and surrounding yard looked a complete muddy mess. But in that mess was progress. In order to lay perhaps the biggest upgrade to our pool, the grounds had to be dug up. The new pipes were put in, and the ground re-laid. The pool walls and floor were resurfaced and painted. The water was put in, and we soaked up the progress in sunbathing and swimming. 

As the pool manager that year and the next, I noticed that it wasn’t only the ones sticking their toes in the water who enjoyed that growth spurt. So many Crossett City Pool memories surfaced and were shared by people who never even set foot in the new pool. Because of that sharing, growth happened in our hearts too. Because when you reminisce on good times, your spiritual heart grows larger. And as one spiritual heart grows, it affects those around it. And before you know it, we are all looking taller or running faster or spelling “elephant” or just better people. 

So take a moment right now or in the coming days and weeks to think about the areas of your life that feel out of whack. Could it be a ground shaking change preceding growth? I encourage you to still your worry and fears and just allow the change to take place. Embrace the growth and practice being the best version of yourself in the moment. Before you know it, your ground will tremble again and more progress within you will happen.

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