faithful living

Seeking Growth Through Change

After having major surgery, enduring some mild complications, and having to give up my teaching position, it was like my life got flipped-turned upside down. (You get a gold star if you know what TV theme song that’s from.)

The blessing in disguise? I’ve had a whole lot of time to focus on growing. I’ve prayed many times for God to show me areas of my life that need some “extra love” so I can move toward being the best version of myself. (Y’all, be careful when you commit to this prayer because God does not disappoint. He’s been showing me more than I bargained for.)

Let’s be honest, we all have positives and negatives to our personalities. Some thought processes and behaviors are inherited, and some we develop on our own, but that doesn’t mean we have to hold on to the unhealthy ones. We all have a choice about how we move into our tomorrows.

As God reveals what I call my “trouble areas”, I work on addressing them. To me, becoming the healthiest version of myself is my goal. When I take care of myself, I am then able to better reach out to others. I am better able to do God’s work in the world around me.

Remember, growth is a marathon, not a sprint. I don’t have it all figured out, but I sure am trying. And I’ve made positive strides.

What have I learned? Change, even good change, can be uncomfortable. Even if you dislike a behavior, even if you want it erased from your being, the process of stripping it away can be quite difficult…and even painful.

As I start to rid myself of unhealthy habits, I feel myself rebelling. (At times, I’ve even become outraged.) Embracing the unknown or stepping outside of what has “always been” is a challenge. Habits (especially those spanning 30 years) can be hard to break, but not all things worthwhile are easy. I’d venture to say most of the best things in life come from hard work and diligence.

My takeaways, as far as developing my sense of self, from the past seven months are this:

Pray to God to show you the areas of your life that need “extra love”.

Decide on one thing to work on at a time. Even if there are multiple areas you want to improve, biting off more than you can chew can be overwhelming and discouraging. When I have too much on my plate, I completely shut down. And I’ve found when you work on one area, some of the other areas improve too, without you even realizing.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Pray to God for guidance. Seek out trusted friends. Ask family for support. See a therapist, if you need help. Therapy has been a God-send for me. I think everyone should have a therapist. Just saying.

Allow yourself to focus on the victories, however small they may be. Don’t get caught up in the mess-ups or mistakes. I have learned to view a mess-up as one more opportunity to identify the problem and then work on stripping away what’s not needed. This is not “all or nothing”. It is a process.

Be kind to yourself. When I started to look at these things, all I could see were all the things “wrong” with me. It was so disheartening. Remember to also look at all the things you do “right”. There is only one you, and this world needs what you have to offer.

Continue to pray. Ask God for the strength you need. Praise him when things go well. Cry to him when times are tough. And remember, He has great plans for you.

I don’t know that these steps will work for everyone, but they’ve certainly worked for me. I think the important thing is to do something. We can stay right where we are or we can continue to evolve into the people God created us to be. Even if you think your life is wonderful now… you have no idea what could be!

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