Working Through Cycles of Personal Growth

We often think of growth as happening one direction. Growing things expand and get older, they don’t shrink or get younger. If something is not moving forward, then it’s not growing.

But maybe that’s not always the case, especially when we’re talking about personal growth journeys. Growth like this doesn’t happen all at once or in a steady direction. Sometimes, a thing that you thought you dealt with will come back and needs to be worked through again. You often have to keep going back over the same ground in order to make progress.

This isn’t failure to grow. But it might look like it depending on our perspective. If we’re the type of person who wants to get everything right the first time, then it can be discouraging when we find ourselves having to deal with something we thought we’d already worked through. We might even decided that since we failed once there’s no point in trying again. But that isn’t really a healthy or helpful perspective.

New “Thought Paths” Take Time

Last year, I wrote a post about changing thought patterns related to anxiety. In that post, I talked about my counselor’s analogy of our minds as a big open field. As we live and grow, our thoughts travel over this field and we start to wear-down paths as we think along the same lines over and over. When we identify “thought paths” that aren’t doing us any good we need to create new pathways in our mind by learning to think in a different way. To do that, you have to keep going over the new paths again and again. Read more

Times and Seasons

I’ve been studying Ecclesiastes this past week, and a thought popped into my head that I would like to share with you. If you agree, disagree, or just feel like weighing in on this topic, let me know what you think.

To everything there is a season…

"Times and Seasons" by marissabaker.wordpress.comIn reading Ecclesiastes, I spent Thursday morning pondering the first half of chapter 3. The idea of time as portrayed here fascinates me — it seems cyclic, steady, patterned. In my KeyWord Study Bible, Zodhiates says that what Solomon discovers here “is that there is One who keeps the world in order — that is God.”

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. (Ecc. 3:1-8)

Another take-away from this section of scripture is the necessity of trusting in God for our security in life. Just a few lines later, Solomon reminds readers that “no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Ecc. 3:11). Though we cannot know what is coming in our lives or exactly how the times and seasons will play-out for us, we can have confidence in God and say with Solomon, “I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it” (Ecc. 3:14).

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11)

No Man Knows

With this in mind, let’s go to another place in the Bible where times and seasons are mentioned. Before Christ’s ascension to His Father in the book of Acts, His disciples asked, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). His response is interesting. “And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority'” (Acts 1:7).

"Times and Seasons" by marissabaker.wordpress.comThis started me wondering if trying to pin down a date for Christ’s return is another symptom of the age-old problem people have of trying to find stability and control by taking matters into their own hands. I’m not talking about being watchful and knowledgeable about how events are prophesied to unfold — we are clearly instructed to do that (Mark 13:33; Luke 21:36; 1 Pet. 4:7). I’m talking about predictions regarding something we are specifically told is not for us to know.  In another place, Jesus Christ said even He did not know the day or hour: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32).

Like Solomon, we have to learn to accept God’s timing and trust Him to be in control. He will work out all things for good, just like He has promised (Rom. 8:28).