Change Challenge: How does your garden grow?I admire people with green thumbs. I have had seasons of a valiant effort in trying to keep indoor plants alive. I currently have none so you can assume their fate. Unfortunately, my husband doesn’t possess this green thumb we speak of either. We tried for YEARS to make our grass green. We did all of the things you might think of to grow grass and keep it green. We even have a sprinkler system, so it’s not a consistency problem, fertilizer problem, weed problem, or mowing too short problem. You get the point. But, last year, we grew green grass! I can’t take credit. We left for a week, and my parents took care of the yard. While they were in charge, they did something I never thought to do, and it made all of the difference. My dad added something to the ground to change the composition of the soil.
I know, don’t judge. I just hadn’t considered that our soil might be the issue. All along, I was addressing an internal problem with external solutions. What was needed for growth was some internal, under-the-visible-layer reworking. While this experience seems comical to some and elementary to others, maybe there are some of you that are like me, and I have just revealed your new spring growing plan. The truth is, I’m not sharing this to help you grow green grass…at least not literally.
You and I have soil too…except it is spelled, soul. I’m wondering if you may be dealing with internal problems by applying external solutions. I'm not speculating. It’s probably more along the lines of accusing. I think it’s a habit in our culture. We like to cover over and band-aid all kinds of problems with a temporary, surface-level solution. We hope that the band-aid will stick forever, and we’ll never have to look back. Maybe it makes us feel good enough temporarily so we can carry on long enough until the next problem becomes evident. Dealing with the same issue year, after year, after year, not growing the grass you want to have, and fighting for the end result with all of the wrong tools, is massively frustrating, but solvable.
Like growing green grass, there are certain conditions in which personal growth is more likely to occur. What conditions affect our growth? By growth, I am alluding to intentional change. Change is inevitable, but growth has to be intentional. My grass will change through the seasons, but if I want it to grow, and be green, there have to be some intentional conditions I set up for that to happen. It’s the same for you and me.
Here are some "Growth Factors" or conditions to consider when intentionally making a change in any area:
How's the soil, your soul?
- The condition of the soul is critical to our ability to grow. If we do not carry a coachable, teachable, open and receptive posture, we will not grow. If arrogance, know it all, defensiveness, or pride is the main composition, the new truths, new ideas, new understanding, and new elements needed to set up growth will not be welcome. Humility, a willingness to learn, a person who can ask questions, seek help, and look for mentors is a person who has set up their soil or soul for the seed.
- You don’t have to be a green thumb to know that things do not grow in some atmospheric conditions. We do not grow orange trees in Montana and birch trees aren’t seen in the desert. Growth won’t happen in an atmosphere resistant to change. Who are you surrounding yourself with and what is the condition of their soil? *Bubble quote? The most successful people in the world often say that we are the sum of the five closest people in our lives. What kinds of things do you listen to or watch regularly? Discouraging news channels, constant debate, social media, gossip, slander, complaints, and negativity? Those are incredibly harsh conditions that will quickly burn up any new growth.
- As grass needs water and regular maintenance, so do we. What habits do you have that fuel your mind, body, and soul? Do you take time to list out things you are grateful for on a regular basis? Do you take time to reflect your wins? Do you do things just for fun and plan intentional rest? Do you use tools like habit trackers and planners to keep new actions at the top of your mind? What kinds of thoughts are the strongest thoughts in your head? Our strongest thoughts often determine our direction, and our direction determines our destination. Our thought life needs daily care too.
- Even weeds that flower and look pretty initially are sure to rob the flowers we planted of essential nutrients. If we looked at the garden of our life in our calendars, what weeds do we have? I bet we have some flowering weeds that may seem good but are the enemy of Maybe some things are overgrown and need pruning and pulling. An overcommitted schedule produces an underwhelmed soul. An underwhelmed soul lacks energy, motivation, or drive for growth. What’s in your space that is taking up too much room, time, attention, energy, focus, and money? What needs clearing? Weeding is not a once-a-month thing. Weeding is a habit of continually making sure what matters most in our garden is getting the most resources (time, energy, focus, and attention.)
- Depending on what you’re growing, it will require a certain amount of sun. For our analogy’s sake, let’s refer to it as heat. Seeds need heat. When it’s just a seed underground, planted and hidden away, it's not the light that is necessary; it’s the heat that causes it to germinate. When we are trying to grow in an area, producing new actions, behaviors, thoughts, and habits, heat can be of benefit to us. Unfortunately, most of us have been conditioned to see obstacles, resistance, challenges, and difficulty (heat) as negative. Heat causes what has been planted deep in us to sprout out. It’s not usually the problems in our lives that are the problem; it's how we see those problems. We don’t have to see them as things happening TO us, but rather happening FOR us; an opportunity to grow.
- Like growing a plant from seed, our growth into new areas, habits, and new ways of thinking and doing take time. It’s a process. One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to approach growth without an understanding of the process. Progress is not always visible while it’s in process. It requires patience and consistency. Doing the daily care even when nothing is visibly surfacing, weeding to protect the small start, protecting the atmosphere, and making sure it’s supporting growth. Doing those things over and over regardless of the progress pace. Progress is progress, and there's no way around the process. The grass will be green and lush eventually, but it doesn’t start there or stop there. The same is true for you and me. We can grow, we can change, we can learn eventually. We have to start somewhere and hopefully, never stop on the way there.
What factor of growth have you neglected? What is one measurable thing you could do to change the conditions so it is more conducive to you growing and changing as you were designed to do so?
about the author...Jamie, wife of her high school sweetheart and mom of 4 boys, has been in the fitness industry for 18 years. "Fuel the body, mobilize the soul" is her mission. Connect with Jamie on Facebook www.facebook.com/jamiebeeson1 or at bit.ly/JamieBeeson
Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s May 2018 issue.
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