(Part 1 of 4)
The personal development/personal growth industry has become over a $10 Billion dollar industry. As we go through the motions of life we find ourselves at crossroads, looking for direction, or absolutely clueless as to where we want to go. This is where this incredibly sought-after industry steps in and saves the day. Now, I’m all for a good personal development book, podcast, video, course, coach etc., but all those things won’t cause positive change in your life unless you want them to. You have to struggle to become the best version of yourself through your own will. No one can push you the way you can push yourself.
As a matter of fact, the idea of this blog came to me after I finished reading a personal growth book. It was filled with great content and overall empowering. After I finished reading it, I thought to myself, “I wish I had something like this when I was growing up that addressed all the struggles a Christian (or Coptic) girl faces in today’s society.” I did some research and couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so I worked up the courage to create this blog. That's how “Lilies and Thorns” was born.
We are holistic beings. We are spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, and social beings with great depth. Each of those areas are grown in different ways. Some easier than others.
I want to start by pointing out the obvious: in order to really know ourselves, we must first know God. After all, we are made in His image and according to His likeness. If you want true growth, you must draw from the source of all goodness Himself. Seek Him first, struggle in your relationship with Him, and all the other aspects of your life will come together in harmony.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
So much of our time and energy goes to focusing on our worldly success, especially in our adolescent and young adult years. We want to get good grades, so we study really hard. We want to get into a good college, so we do everything we can to make our college applications undeniable. We want to get a good job, so we obsessively polish our resumes. We want to find a life partner, so we keep looking until we find someone who’s marriage material. The list can go on forever.
What we often forget to focus on is our personality, and how it’s being shaped by all these circumstances. Whether the situations are joyous or painful, we should be growing from every single one of them. Are we being resilient in the midst of a mental battle? Are we being persistent in the midst of rejection? Are we being immovable in the midst of negative social influence? Are we being firm in our faith in times of doubt?
Personal growth can be transformative if we allow not just the good, but also the “bad” moments to be lessons. When we lift up all those experiences in prayer to Christ, they can be pivotal in allowing us to grow. Prayer and spiritual guidance can help us gain clarity and see the direction we want to take our spiritual, mental, physical, emotional and social life in.
We might have some deep wounds that are covered by flowery bandages. We can ignore them all we want, but in order to truly grow we have to take a deep look at ourselves. What are those ugly and dark parts of ourselves that we try so hard to hide from others? Whether those things are a result of our own mistakes or someone else’s mistakes, I urge you to face them straight on. You might need the help of a counselor or therapist to rip off that bandage and start really healing your wounds. There is never any shame in seeking help. That's the first part (and maybe the easier part), the second part is actually doing the work to self-heal. Let your wounds become beautiful battle scars, letting each one tell a story of how you’ve grown and conquered your struggles!
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing about how we can grow in many different ways. How we can grow from pain. Not self-inflicted pain, but pain that God allows us to go through for the purpose of refining us. How we can grow from conflicts in our friendships and relationships if we address them properly. Reconciliation is a Christian concept we often don’t know how to approach. How we can grow from grief, specifically the loss of a loved one (this will be a guest post). I hope you come along for the ride, and I pray you all benefit from this series.
This is the first part of a four part series about personal growth.
Part 2 - Growing Through Reconciliation
Part 3 - Growing Through Trials (coming 10/9/20)
Part 4 - Growing Through Grief (coming 10/16/20)