You are not a good parent unless you track your children’s height somewhere tucked away on a wall or door jamb in your home.
Okay, that’s not necessarily true.
But I do love seeing the scribbled, hash marks along with corresponding dates.
Our home has a life measuring door jamb. It’s not my door jamb, but it belongs to our children. I keep this archive of their growth among the memories of my life. Pen and pencil enshrine millimeters of development with dated lines.
I remember their smiles with backs to the wall, daring to perch on their toes as I prepared to solidify that moment in time.
Symbolically, the past marks are behind them as they optimistically look forward to future marks and memories. They were seeing their future about as far as the mark on the door jamb would allow. A future full and bright, with endless possibilities.
Once documented, we jubilantly discussed how they had grown and we talk about days to come when the marks would show them as tall or taller than mom or dad.
That door jamb now sits dormant in the shadows of our empty nest life. Sometimes you never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.
Often I steal time to visit our measuring door jamb. I secretly and simultaneously curse it and love it. I am drawn to its sentimentality. It is a bittersweet reminder of life’s deeply cherished moments with my children. I am sure these marks are more important to me than to them. They will make marks of their own on a wall in their own home and with their own children. That is why I have hesitated marking the growth of my grandsons on this door jamb. Those marks belong in the home they grow up in.
Staring at that old door jamb, it is symbolic of life. It’s foundation of wood, like life, is hard and finite. Every piece, a part of a whole rooted in its origin – milled and shaped by the machine of its past. The smooth and rough patches, dark knots and voids; blemishes and beauty unique to all of us, are covered by paint and time.
Those lines we etched on the walls of our homes over the years are only as new as when the ink is wet. Once placed, they become a unique memory. It happens so fast, doesn’t it? One day they are all there but then it seems a few days pass and the house is empty and they are gone.
During those early years it seemed that the kids wanted to be measured everyday. It was hard for them to understand, that I couldn’t measure them EVERYDAY! We need to let some time pass before we stand proudly to measure the growth.
These “measuring moments in life” really do not stop when you stop making these pencil marks on the door jamb in your kitchen.
Life is littered with things to do, and plans to make of more things to do. Even in those moments when it feels like the world has stopped… (and, trust me, there’s been plenty of those) life is going to keep moving around you whether you’re ready for it or not. And it’s OK to stop and take a moment to mark and measure that particular moment in life, as long as you remember that there’s still more waiting for you in this world: more people to meet, more places to see, more “I love you” messages to share.
I had one of these “measuring moments” a few months ago. I wasn’t standing tall at a wall with my heals pressed against the wood trim praying for another inch. No, I was driving. I was driving on a road I’d traveled down many times years ago.
When I was a student at Liberty University, I knew the way home like the back of my hand. There were times on that road when I cruised as fast as my Ford Pinto would take me because I couldn’t wait to get home for a little breather and some detox from cafeteria dining. On the other hand, there were times when break time was over and I couldn’t pack my bags fast enough, gladly leaving home in the dust so I could see my friends. Back and forth. Forth and back. Behind the wheel I made the turns and journeyed my well-acquainted path. I couldn’t complain, cruising was undemanding and easy. I knew the turns. I knew the sites. It was my drive.
A few months ago, I found myself again driving on this familiar road. I had not driven the road since I graduated over 35 years ago. The curves and landmarks brought me back to those many trips I’d made on that highway.
I remembered that young man that sat in the driver’s seat… the me of thirty-six years ago.
I thought about him. I remember looking at life through his eyes.
He was so young. So naïve.
He thought he knew everything. He wanted desperately to be strong, but he knew the truth—he was a coward. He wanted to not care what others thought of him. He wanted to be confident, but that wasn’t the case. He played that confidence game well, but he knew the truth.
He thought he knew God. I mean, he knew Him, but he wasn’t working too hard to know Him more. Something that would desperately haunt him in the next few years.
He was satisfied in building the life he wanted. He thought he had ultimate say in his tomorrows. He had no idea what the years ahead would look like for him.
He had no idea he would come to know the God of the Bible in a much deeper way. The God who would not leave his side when he was alone, lost, abandoned. He had no idea God would allow him to travel a new road. He would be free of the fear of death. He would strive to walk humbly with his God, desiring to love Him with his whole heart. He would not be bound by what the world said about him. He would know freedom—a kind of freedom that he never thought possible. He learned how to accept being forgiven and how to forgive.
Traveling down that road of my past, tears began streaming down my face. The curves and landmarks that were still there and like those marks on my door jamb that documented the past of my children and the growth of their life. The same was true with these landmarks as well. They were reminders of my past. They were reminders of how far I had grown and they were reminders of… the loss, the heartbreak, the tears, the awakening, the healing and the forgiveness.
I felt thankful to be in this “measuring moment.” God had taken me by the hand and led me to His door jamb. He wanted to show me how far I had come. He wanted to show me how “tall” He was making me. Not to praise me, for who can will themselves to grow? The honor must be directed to the One who “makes all things new!” Appreciation given to the One who wakes us from our slumber so we can really live. Adoration to a God who can take even a person like me and make something of worth.
I know I can trust Him. He who began this good work in me will be relentless to complete that work for His glory. But this is what you need to know, the work He is doing in YOU is happening! You may not see it, but maybe it’s time for you to be still before Him and enter your measuring moment. We are nothing without Him. And any good that is happening in us is truly because of the grace of God. Yet He brings us to these measuring moments to remind our hearts that it’s all worth it. He’s worth it. And to abide in Him will produce the fruit, will cause growth, will make our hearts rejoice all the more in the God that is our friend and companion through every road we may find ourselves on. Sometimes He just has to place us on the wall and show us He’s at work in us. He’s growing us up. I’ve got a lot of growing to do, but I trust He’s not done with me yet.
For I’m not the man I once was.
And that my friends is my grace story.