A Diary of Every Day Growing Up Opportunities
Every day interactions and observations of ourselves and our reactions can yield rich opportunities for building a more mature self—One path towards” loving our neighbour as we love ourselves.”
The key premise of Growing Yourself up and of this blog is that:
Relationships are the best laboratory for growing up
“If we’re to lift our maturity levels from what we had when we left our family homes, a conscious, persistent effort is required. The very best place to work on growing that inner adult, rather than pandering to that entitled inner child, is in our significant relationships. Where else do we get such good practice at using the characteristics of the inner adult than in relating to important people in our lives?” P 22GYU
Growing up relationally
“While much physical growing doesn’t require effort, growing emotionally in the area of relationships is a very different process.” P21GYU
Bowen theory and my Christian faith: The limits of my own growing up efforts
In the final chapter of Growing Yourself Up I express a caveat to the idea of growing our adult maturity:
“….there is a part of childhood that is worth holding onto in the growing-up journey. This is the aspect of the child that snuggles into a parent’s lap knowing he or she is vulnerable and dependent. For the adult this is called humility. It is the acceptance of frailty and the slow pace of our change efforts. It is the part of us that seeks beyond ourselves to find answers to the bigger questions of life’s meaning.” P 220-1 GYU
So where does Bowen theory fit into the bigger questions of life for me? I have found that Bowen’s meticulous observations of the human family and broader relationship groups have yielded a unique way of appreciating the patterns of human reactions and symptoms. It opens up awareness of each individual being inextricably linked to others in their relationship systems; both in the present and across the generations. Each person affects the functioning of others in the system, meaning that if one can work on one’s self, one can contribute bit by bit to the maturity available to all in the system. That said however, I don’t view Bowen theory as the primary lens of understanding myself and others and my life’s purpose. I seek to put my biblical Christian faith as the overriding compass in my life journey. I endeavour to filter all ideas through the lens of being dependent on the creator God and staying conscious of my tendency to arrogantly live as if I am capable of independently controlling my life.
While I can responsibly work to “grow myself up” in order to better reflect the human I was created to be, I am limited in what I can do relying on my own efforts and intellect. I believe that the humility that grows in response to God’s grace (crucially revealed in Jesus life, death and rising), opens up a different maturity path of vulnerability and reverence for God.
This humble path is described by Jesus in Luke 18:17
“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
If you are curious to explore more I recommend this presentation “The reason for God” by Tim Keller https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiWeohEBdPo