The Enemies of Growth

Can I ask you something…are you growing?

 If you aren’t, I bet your life feels a bit blah. A bit empty. Kind of passionless. I can imagine there might even be a small hint of lingering guilt. Why? Because you know you were made for more.

I’m sure you are busy. I’m sure you are capable. I’m sure you are getting stuff done. I’m sure you have a big to-do list. I’m sure you are trying to do all the things you think you are supposed to do, as a woman, wife, employee, mom, Christian…

But, really, are you growing?

I believe, as women, we were specially designed to nurture new life…be it an idea, a child, a business, a project, a relationship, or a hurting person. We are inexplicably drawn to things like this.

 But have you stopped to really consider that you were also created and called to nurture new life, not just around you, but also within you? If you aren’t, personally and spiritually growing, you will always be wondering if there is more.

The answer is yes! There is more, and I submit to you that more is not some new job or man or promotion or income…but rather growth itself.  

This blog is not deeply personal or satisfyingly emotional. It’s just really practical. I’m here to point out the major roadblocks, mindsets, and habits - the greatest enemies, if you will - that prevent growth in the life of modern-day women.  

Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a foundational belief that you are or have to be better than everyone else. Your worth is dependent on your actions and your identity is rooted in your perfection.

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Ultimately, perfectionists are trying to avoid feelings of disappoint or shame. If this is you, you will never be able to take the risks necessary for growth.

Growth is messy. Growth requires trial and error (key word error). Growth is a result of taking risks and failing and saying sorry (to yourself or someone else) and trying again. Perfectionists don’t really attempt anything unless they are sure they can do it well.

Growth feeds on Grace.

This is why God lavishes grace on us. He knows that grace, encouragement and acceptance as we are, are the water to our souls’ soil.

The Holy Spirit in you is alive and well. He will be calling you, wooing you, towards growth and adventure and a life that greater displays His glory until the day you die. God’s main concern is that you are GROWING. That is why he speaks both grace and truth over you always. If you want to enjoy growth, you must allow yourself to receive both.

Busyness

Oh, one of the many great lies of our current culture. If you are busy, you have value. If you are busy, you are adding value to the world. If you are busy, you must be living a worthwhile life. You must be worthy!

I have worked with countless women, young and old, who are so busy that their lives are passing them by, and they have no idea how to slow it all down. Their schedule might be producing things for their work, or their church, or their family, but it is not producing any growth in their own heart, soul or mind.

In fact, the pace of their schedule actually stomps out the new life that does have the courage to push its way through the soil all on its own.

There is no time in their schedule to pour the Living Water on a seed of wisdom sprouting. There is no time in their schedule to dance with their creativity, until it becomes something of its own. There is no time to huddle closely to God, burrowing into His strength long enough to examine a wound, allow Him to bind it up and receive the grace needed to learn from a mistake. There is no time to sit at the feet of Jesus and allow His holiness to wash over you.

Growth takes time.

You, woman, were quite literally designed to grow things. It’s woven into our image-bearing purpose. Forget about your expectations and the expectations of others. Slow down enough to let yourself, your faith and your ideas….grow. I promise you, it will make you feel so alive.

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Deep Discontent

I once posted a thought on Instagram that read, “Contentment is the secret to long-term success.” I deeply believe that someone must be fundamentally satisfied in order to maintain long-term motivation.

When a person is deeply unsatisfied, meaning that they don’t have the issues of their identity or self-worth settled, they will often turn to a person or new job or adventure to settle those issues. When that “new” thing doesn’t, they will lose interest and move on to the next thing.

This happens with business venture, good relationships, new towns and new jobs all the time. If you are looking for something new to answer questions about your purpose or worth, you will find that you have a habit of quitting. Only God can answer these questions.

You must let God settle your identity and Christ’s work on the cross settle your worth, or your life will be driven not by your passions and calling but rather by your void.

Growth comes from staying.

Growth is slow and doesn’t always yield quick results. Know who you are and what you are worth, so that you can linger long enough in one place in life to see real results.  

Pride

This one has been a struggle for me personally. I started getting compliments about being “wise” and “mature” at a young age. I became a leader at a young age. I made hard and “good” choices from a young age.

Simply put, I let it go to my head. I believed everything everyone said.

I started to get to the place where I didn’t consider the fact that someone might actually know better than I did, because I actually thought I knew best! It’s so laughable when I look back at it now, but it’s true ya’ll!

Sound familiar? Are you “stuck” in some area of life, because you actually think that nobody out there is smarter or could have a better idea than you?

Entertaining the perspectives and wisdom of others as potentially right, is often the most direct route to growth. You do not have to adopt all the opinions and live out all the suggestions of others, but you must be humble enough to seek advice when you feel stagnate or stuck and to apply it to your life if its right.

Growth requires humility. I’m sure you do have some wisdom. I’m sure you have made some good choices. I’m sure you are gifted. But there still other people out there who are smarter than you. There are still other people out there who can see your blind spots. There are still other people out there who have walked your path.

You need other people to grow. End of story.

Comfort

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Perhaps this is the reason that so many Americans (even rich Americans) are unhappy. Maybe comfort isn’t always the blessing we think it is. Maybe it’s really an addiction to safety that breeds fear of the unknown. Fear of struggle. Fear of resistance. Fear of basically everything needed to produce growth.

Ask yourself, are you addicted to comfort? If so, why?

Maybe you’ve just never had the opportunity to do something courageous. Go find one. Maybe you lack the confidence to believe that you can spend two weeks in another country, walk into a new church alone or tell your husband about your “crazy” idea. Be confident in Christ and just go do it.

Bottom line, growth takes courage.

The absolute most direct route to growth, right now, is to get out of your comfort zone and do something that requires courage. Anything. Go to a movie alone if you never have! It can be that simple.

And here’s the really cool thing, the more you do venture out, the more courageous you will become. This I know from experience.

Do you want to feel alive? Do you think there might be more? Then I encourage you to enjoy your comfort for what it really should be: a place of recovery between your epic acts of courage.

 THE ALLIES OF GROWTH

So, if those are the enemies, what at the allies? Grace. Time. Staying. Humility. Courage.

God wants growth for you. God designed you for it. I guess I just wanted to take a moment today and remind you all of that. To speak that truth over you.

Satan wants you paralyzed by perfect. Burdened by Busyness. Distracted by Discontent. Sequestered by Pride. Crippled by Comfort. God wants and provides growth for you because it’s good for you and good for his kingdom.

This month, challenge you to call out the enemies and embrace the allies.

You were made for it.

“That you may become mature Christians and that you may fulfill God’s will for you.” Col 4:12