This topic has been highly requested, and I'm genuinely excited to share more about what I've gleaned from my conversations with God and the invaluable lessons I've gathered from therapy. Each day, we should be actively striving to become better versions of ourselves than we were the day before. It's a fundamental question: if we remain static, can we genuinely claim to be glorifying God?
I think many Christians tend to focus excessively on what they're doing for God, while perhaps not placing enough emphasis on how their actions, relationships, and responses reflect God's glory. It's imperative that we put in the effort to authentically demonstrate love to not only strangers but also to our friends, family, and those we encounter regularly.
How can we be a great example to others through our ministry, and not be a good example to the people close to us?
Okay, I know I started this off a bit harsh, but the point of this is to help you realize that growth within ourselves is a process that takes pruning, dedication, and hard work.
Consider, for a moment, your life as a garden. God has blessed us with abundant gifts, diverse relationships, and numerous opportunities—these are our metaphorical flowers, fruits, and trees. They thrive and flourish as we nurture and care for them. However, when we neglect them, weeds sprout, they wither from lack of nourishment, or they may even drown from too much care. This analogy extends to how we treat people, oscillating between excessive involvement and detachment. Our responsibility is to introspect deeply into our actions and treatment of others. Every day, our actions affect someone else, and the world does not revolve around us.
But let's acknowledge that each of us carries hidden traumas or unresolved issues that drive our emotional responses and how we permit others to treat us. So, how do we overcome these challenges?
"Perhaps a simple conversation, a good night's sleep, or even a snack (lol) can minimize these emotions."
First and foremost, let's start by examining ourselves, and focusing on managing our triggers.
I haven't mastered this yet, but I'm trying my best to make strides in reacting less impulsively. When someone upsets you or triggers strong emotions, it's crucial to understand why. Why did anger well up inside me? Why did that incident make me profoundly sad? Can I respond in a better way? The answer to that final question is always a resounding "Yes, you can do better."
One practice that has greatly assisted me is journaling. At the end of each day, or sometimes immediately after a situation arises, I find solace in pouring my thoughts and emotions onto the pages of my journal. My therapist has taught me an invaluable technique to ensure that the next day surpasses the previous one: document what transpired in great detail. Record how it made you feel and what could have been improved. Then, reflect on these emotions and write down why you felt that way. Was it possible to alter the situation through a shift in perspective? Could the other party have communicated more effectively? Often, our reactions are driven by unresolved issues we've chosen to ignore or pretend don't affect us.
It's crucial to remember that every reaction is a choice. The Bible reminds us that God is "compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love" (Psalm 103:8). If we aspire to be more like Him, our actions and words must mirror these qualities.
I don't intend to discourage you; this isn't an easy journey. Some people never reach the point of non-reactivity. We're human, filled with emotions, and I'm not advocating for suppressing them. Instead, I implore you to delve deeper into your emotions and question why you feel a certain way. Perhaps a simple conversation, a good night's sleep, or even a snack (lol) can minimize these emotions. Whatever your chosen coping mechanism (hopefully a healthy one), it's essential to gain mastery over what you choose to react to. In a world where some individuals thrive on causing misery, it's vital to maintain control over your responses.
The next significant step in personal growth is to disassociate from individuals who hinder your progress.
We're getting to the easy part (maybe for some). Letting go of certain people you probably should not be around.
I have seen so many times, people surround themselves with like-minded people as they're trying to grow. Meaning: you only hang out or talk to broken people, because you're broken. You only get advice from people who don't have the tools to help push you to be better. You don't befriend people (or you stop talking to people) who will call you out on your mess. And it's all because you're afraid of the truth.
While you are finding the spaces to heal, and learning how to be better, you HAVE to remove yourself from people who aren't trying to move forward in the way you are. The Bible even tells us how important and dangerous it is to be equally yoked with unbelievers.
I stress this point because there are a lot of people who offer advice, similar to what I'm doing now, about what to do, say, how to act, and how to respond. However, if they aren't seeking answers from Christ or moving in a direction that aligns with your goals, Why are you listening to them?
Think back to Job in the Bible. He lost EVERYTHING. And the people he was surrounded by did nothing but complain, and tell him to FORGET God. If he had listened to them, God would not have blessed him with more. The chatter in your ears is a distraction from the blessing God has for you at the end of all of this.
You need to remove the noise, stop filling your space with people, and keep yourself close to Godly people.
I firmly believe that during your healing stages, you don't need to be around people who aren't moving forward because you either end up not moving yourself, or trying to be a crutch for them. And that's probably one of the reasons you're stuck in this place anyway.
Lastly, remember to pray for discernment.
As you progress on your journey, it can become increasingly tempting to revert to old habits. You might find yourself thinking, "I'm having a great week; maybe I can skip journaling and self-improvement for a while." However, it's essential to recognize that forsaking these practices puts you at risk of stagnation and regression.
You may have observed that much of the advice I've shared revolves around the theme of self-improvement. This emphasis is because we live in a world where it's often easier to attribute our misfortunes to others. While external factors certainly play a role, we cannot control how others behave or treat us precisely as we desire. What we can control, however, is our commitment to personal growth and development.
Regardless of the challenges you currently face, I understand that they can be overwhelming. Yet, it's crucial to acknowledge that the longer you dwell in distress, the less you can accomplish in life. Consider seeking therapy, enrolling in educational courses, pursuing hobbies, and cultivating self-love. Prioritizing an understanding of your triggers, reactions, and sources of joy is fundamental because expecting others to do the same requires your own commitment to self-awareness.
This journey will empower you to establish healthy boundaries, discern when to persist when to try new things, and evaluate whether your relationships genuinely contribute to your spiritual and personal growth.
You have to put in the work to be a better you, and it will be worth it. Even when it doesn't feel like it.
Stay Blessed, Be Blessed