From the moment we discover faith awakening in us to the moment we draw our last breath, we keep growing spiritually. Most of the time we are unaware of how this happens. Usually, it is only when we look back at our lives that we notice that we have grown, that we have changed.
The chart below helps explain what goes on when we talk about spiritual growth. Each stage presents us with gifts for our spiritual journey.
Each stage builds on the other and all are equally important. Although growth is never this linear or precise, we cannot skip stages. A person in stage 2, for example, can’t skip to stage 5. In fits and spurts we move through the stages. And we cycle back through them. We cannot speed up this process.
Here’s the good news: God is in charge of our growth. He starts it, and He maintains it.
The invitation is to understand this process and to cooperate with it. We get clarity from knowing what is happening to us and what we can anticipate down the road. We are also comforted by recognizing that these stages are normal to most everyone and a part of being human.
The diagram below identifies the stages of faith development. It also shows us that we can cycle through the stages at many points in our lives. For example, spiritually mature people learn something new about God. They go to stage two and three to learn how to take that awareness and live it out experientially. A crisis causes them to look inside. And so on. Nevertheless, there is at any point in our lives, a stage that we call “home stage,” a stage more or less characteristic of where you are right now.