Growing is Unending

Today, it’s my honor to share guest blogger and fellow Phillies fan, Thomas Mark Zuniga (TMZ).  TMZ is an aspiring author with a story worth sharing.  He has just finished his first book, Struggle Central, which will be available on Amazon shortly.  Until then, you can get a copy of his book for free for a limited time by signing up for his newsletter (click here).  You can also follow TMZ on Twitter and Facebook.

Growing is Unending

Over the last couple years, I’ve endured some especially stretching moments: one vulnerable summer camp position in Milwaukee, another more exposing camp in North Carolina, and not one but two cross-country moves from Georgia to California on either side of those stretching summer camp romps.

That second cross-country trek stretched me even more than the first.

After completing the most impossible summer of my life in North Carolina, I returned to my parents’ home in Georgia. The previous year in California, I’d experienced my greatest year of growth: finding an amazing church, plugging into my first life group, and even getting baptized by said life group.

Stuck in the South, I knew I had to drive back West.

But how? My old roommates were gone. My savings were scant, at best. How could I drive 2,500 miles with nowhere to live, nowhere to work, and nothing saved up?

No plan?

I put off the inevitable for weeks. Two, four, six weeks passed as I grew increasingly sickened by my “backslide” into the way things used to be: living under my parents’ roof with no job, no church, no community, no sense of purpose whatsoever.

Eventually, I couldn’t take it.

I had to leave.

Leave again.

Leaving for California two years earlier was so much easier. After graduating college, I was beyond ready for the open waters of a new existence. Had a housing situation with friends already secured across the country with much saved from a lucrative summer job.

But this time was harder. The unknowns weightier, the waves far more perilous. I drove off my parents’ driveway the second time with saltier tears and a heavier heart from the first.

With so much stretching and growth in the two years separating these momentous drives, why was this second move so much more difficult than the first? Had I even grown at all?

After completing my drive across the country, I was inundated with struggle: an isolating living situation in the boondocks of an old married couple’s house, no work, and a car that died from thousands of wearied miles.

Additionally, I struggled to reconnect with my life group filled with old and new faces alike. It was the same amazing group who’d baptized me six months prior, and yet it wasn’t. I had changed, just as they had. And now we needed to start over and change together again.

The changing process would take months.

I’ve since learned that despite two momentous years of growth, capped by a summer camp that could have very well ended a triumphant feel-good movie, the process has really only just begun – my stretching and growing, still in its infantile stages.

Because growing is unending. And though struggles remain, redemption awaits.

I’ve recently broken ground on a project four years in the making: my first book. Since college, I’ve felt called to write, and this book in particular has long filled me with thrilling fear: a book of “messy memoirs” charting my struggles and the ensuing redemption of the last quarter-century.

Looking back on my quarter-life, I see the growth. See it so clearly. But I often wonder when the stretching will end. When will I be fully grown? A fully developed Mr. Miyagi or Gandalf with every arduous lesson learned, now able to impact any and all passersby?

At 26, I’m still very much learning the breadth and depth of this journey. Learning that this pursuit in stretching and growing is never done. That nobody this side of the grave has truly “arrived,” and the ones who impact most are the ones who realize this best. Truly, deeply know it.

I hope I come to know it, too. Know that despite the certain growth from a quarter-century on this planet, there’s more to the mountain than this.

When have you had to leap into the unknown? How was it difficult, and how did it affirm your growth? Have you ever felt like you’ve stretched or grown “enough” only to be shown otherwise?