Red and Andy in Shawshank Redemption

Dude Skill #4: GROW – Part 1


“Get busy living or get busy dying.”

“Red” Redding, The Shawshank Redemption

Part of being alive is growing. At some point, usually in our early twenties, we stop getting taller. But we never stop growing physically. I’m not just talking about our waistlines! Our brains can continue to grow into old age. Even if we start losing the hair on our heads, we start growing hair in our ears. Growth in one form or another will happen.

Growth may be best observed in children. I love the process of growth in mine, but I would love it to speed up at times. That is when Amie assures me, “They’ll get there.” I want instant growth. I am a microwave guy, not a crock-pot guy. Most growth comes intentionally, not naturally. And it is easy to get stuck. Just ask my wife.

Amie’s View of Darrin’s Unhealthy Emotional Life

Darrin is primarily a type A go-getter who doesn’t hesitate much in tackling problems and busting through roadblocks. His emotional health, however, is an area where I’ve seen him be less than his normal aggressive self. the early years of planting and pastoring our church were incredibly demanding. Darrin had eighty-hour workweeks, and we weathered a lot of difficult circumstances in a relatively short time. People left, including ones we thought would always be around, there was always a new problem related to facilities or money, and our young family was growing rapidly, as was our young church. The demands on our time and energy felt relentless.

When several years of significant stress started to take a toll on Darrin’s physical and emotional well-being, he quickly started problem solving on the physical side, but I didn’t see much happening on the emotional front. He was angry, somewhat hopeless, and difficult to live with. I was frustrated by the tone he was setting in our home for our family, as well as his lack of emotional engagement with me. I soon realized the he knew there was a problem, but he didn’t know what to do about it. So he didn’t do anything. Darrin could not rely on his natural strengths and abilities in this area, so he grew stagnant. Doing nothing prolonged the damage of Darrin’s unhealthy emotional life on our family.

[Darrin speaking now] My wife knew I wasn’t growing. My friends knew I wasn’t growing. And eventually I recognized the problem. I didn’t know what to do in part because of self-deception and in part because I didn’t have a holistic definition of growth.

Beginning with my next blog posting I will summarize what Darrin says are the most critical elements of growth in our lives.


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