Growing in the Right Direction

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On the journey to Making Friends with the Mess , the best place to start is to know what healthy growth looks like. We can be active or busy which looks like growth but really is just busyness.  Growth is messy and disorienting but that is because with growth comes new ground taken. All things that are healthy grow, so we need to make peace with our friend mess as part of what growth looks like.  Not because our lives are to be chaotic, but in fact quite the opposite. Messes arise for us to face them head on, and find the root cause so we can heal to it. That way our lives aren’t perfect, but whole.

While I am very much learning myself, I do realize before we fully give ourselves over to this adventure of growth, we need to know when we are growing and when we are not. This way we can respond or course correct as needed when we are not.  That begs us to address the question:

How do you know you’re growing?  Is your growth in the right direction?

First off, you must understand your process will not look the same as the person next to you.  While some principles will remain the same, it is important to not fall into comparison (more on that later this month).  However, growth has a few common factors that apply to all of us. These will help you identify if you’re growing healthy or not. Let’s explore

  1. Your endeavors produce “good fruit.” -  What do I mean by fruit?  I mean that you’re producing a value that others can enjoy.  Just like a tree bears fruit that isn’t intended to stay on the branches, what we produce in life is meant to be shared and consumed by others.  When your life produces good fruit that is something that brings delight, value and nourishment to others. The benefits extend beyond you and have a lasting impact on others. This is evidence your growth isn’t just for show but significance.

  2. Your Efforts Produce Multiplied Impact.  Keeping with the theme of trees that bear fruit. After fruit is produced the next sign of growth is that the fruit is multiplied. .  A healthy tree doesn’t just produce one season of fruit, not even just a harvest year after year, but the seeds produced at each harvest have multiplying power.  You will see the impact of your growth not only impact you and your life, but the lives of those you influence and what they produce. That is a sign your growth is healthy.

  3. You’re growing healthy when old triggers or temptations no longer impact you.  Another sign of growth is immunity to the negative things that once had an influence over you in the past.  It’s like the immunity you develop once facing a sickness. You can be exposed to it in the future but it no longer takes you out.  Healthy growth inoculates you to the temptations and triggers that don’t serve you or would hold you back from the next stage.

  4. You know you are on the right path when you can withstand a storm with peace, confidence, and joy.  Back to our tree illustration, those that are healthy and strong are those with the strongest root systems.  They withstand winds, rain, and the elements not because they look flashy or have the most leaves, but because at their foundation they are strong. They draw the right nutrients because they took the effort to go deep.  That all comes from a healthy root system. Similar for you and I, we are on the path of health it is because we are anchored in the right things. The manifestation of this is seen in the fact that we keep our peace, confidence and joy even in circumstances that are harsh.

  5. You know you’re going in the right direction when your value is not found in what you’re doing, but on who you’re serving. Many of us in today’s society anchor our value on what we have accomplished, the results we produce, and the title we hold.  This isn’t wrong, but when it is the only focus it can be unhealthy. The truth is even if you didn’t do anything you’re the priceless son or daughter of God.  You are a one of a kind and irreplaceable. The truth is our performance can be replicated, even surpassed by another who has more gifting in that area than us.  That doesn’t mean you’re any less valuable. You carry a specific mix of strengths and talents, a sphere of influence and unique influence that no one else in the world can replicate.  Now it doesn’t even stop there. It is my firm belief that when you know your value then your works (because while our value isn’t to be determined by our works, we are still built to work and serve each other) become a way to express the value we carry for others and God.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but will give you a good indication if you are growing in the right direction. Starting here will help give you an idea of what the next steps to take should be.  I know that if you open yourself up to the messy process of growth, what you’ll see on the other side will be nothing short of remarkable. It won’t be pretty or flashy in the moment, but the value will be that of what makes your soul come fully alive. Add to that, you living BIG ignites the courage for those around you to do the same.