Amy Welborn is a columnist for Our Sunday Visitor and Catholic News Service and a regular contributer to the Living Faith quarterly devotional.

They’d left the classroom, most of them just a little taller than me, but when they returned, their heads seemed to almost scrape the ceiling.

Girls grow too, of course, but their spurts come earlier, usually in late middle school. When my son graduated from eighth grade last year, there were at least four girls in his class of twenty-four who were far closer to the six-feet mark than any of the boys.

So yes, everyone wants to grow.

If you’re a boy, you want to grow taller and to fill out. You want your chest and your shoulders to broaden, and you want to start shaving.

If you’re a girl, you want to start looking like a woman, and not like a little girl.

It’s funny, too, because you can tell that everyone is always quite relieved when they start to really shoot up and develop. Adulthood is on the way.

Because, you know, no one wants to stay a kid forever.

The question is, are you as anxious to grow in other ways as you are physically?

Being adult is about a lot more than how you look. There are lots of overgrown kids walking around in adult bodies. They grew physically, which is effortless, but they forgot that they have to grow internally as well, in order to be taken seriously as an adult. But that’s not effortless, so sometimes we forget to take care of it.

So good for you – you’re growing physically. And during this summer filled with sunshine and exercise, you’ll grow a lot more and you, too, will shock your teachers next fall. But what about the other parts of you. Are they growing, too?

• Are you growing emotionally? Are you leaving childhood selfishness behind and beginning to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around you and your needs?

• Are you growing intellectually? Are you reaching beyond the child’s tendency to unquestioningly absorb what she’s told and really trying to analyze, critique and understand the world around you?

• Are you growing in terms of responsibility? Are you taking more responsibility for your own life and your own choices, realizing that it’s time to stop expecting your parents to run along behind you, picking up the messes that you make?

• Are you growing spiritually? Are you taking the time in your life to relate to God in a more intimate way? Are you continuing to grow in faith, or do you not know much more about your faith than you did when you were ten?

I once had an acquaintance who told me that her son had grown a foot in a year. Imagine that – growing an inch a month. She said it was a very difficult time, because her son’s body was getting beyond him. It was a year filled with awkwardness and even accidents. And, as you might imagine, growing that fast actually does cause real, live growing pains.

So yes, growing can hurt. Growing can be confusing and frightening.

But if you want to be an adult, you’ve got to grow.

And not just on the outside, either.

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