The only real way to grow is through connection. Sometimes we think we need to pressure, prod, or push growth by telling people what to do or making a plan to which they must adhere. The only real growth in the natural world around us, though, is through cells connecting with one another. There is no real laid out plan for how plants should grow (except maybe their DNA – the plans are encoded within), and there is not someone there demanding they straighten themselves up and reach out further toward the sun. The cells just come together and through some magical interaction, plants grow.
Living in a perpetual state of repentance is the way to change. We are always in brokenness and there is nothing that keeps our hearts tender like saying we’re sorry, turning around and repenting for the things we have done. It is true you make mistakes every day. Why would you not want to live in repentance? The alternative is to not pay attention to the things you are doing wrong or to rationalize and try to convince yourself and others that the things you have done are not that bad. When you put it that way, it seems like there is only one option.
It seems like life is equal parts death and growth. You cannot have one without the other – unbounded growth not pruned back by a little death will become unruly and unmanageable. At the same time, you will not always be moving backwards (experiencing death and loss). There will be a time to burst forth in growth. Don’t be afraid of either. You should learn to make friends with your loss and pain because they have so much to teach you. What has taught you more than your pain? At the same time, do not be wary of growth and success. You should be wise enough to realize you can lose at any time, but you do not need to live in fear of these losses or when they will reemerge. The losses only serve to shed what is not needed and let you return to a phase of growth and thriving. It is all the gift of life.
Do not neglect to hope. Hope is the thing that can draw you into your new life. I am not saying everything will be perfect, but so often we just settle for what we have, not being able to see past the dark, looming forest before us. Hope comes in handy especially when you feel like you are in a rut – in a relationship or in your job, for example. If you go to work everyday or just try to get by in your family everyday, putting up with the same old tired patterns, you will get depressed. On the other hand, you can craft new responses to the same old situations, thereby creating a new cycle that will hopefully lead you to a different and better place. Hope is the vehicle. If you have a dearth of hope, you will lack creativity as well, which is needed to design these new responses. Each of us carries this hope. The small flicker sometimes just needs to be fanned into a vibrant flame.
You have heard it talked about that most people go through some kind of “dark night of the soul” at some point in their lives. Well I don’t know about you, but I feel like I go through some kind of depression/darkness almost monthly (if not more often) when I feel depressed and it feels like there was no way to avoid it. I just need to be depressed, something needs to die.