In my last post, I talked about integrity – how it “grows out of who you are at the core of your being…” But how do we know who we are at our core? And how did that ‘core’ get there in first place? I believe, as the Bible says, that God planted a spiritual seed in each of us before we were born (Jeremiah 1:5). This is why I’m naming God “The Master Gardener.”
How does the idea of “growing” your life resonate with you? Our culture puts a high emphasis on ACTION: plans, activities, and work, work, work as the pathway to a successful life. And I am all for action – coaching always leads to goals and a plan and active accountability. Where I’m focusing now, though, is the motivation that spurs the action – the ROOTS of who you are and why you do things.
When my son, Alex, was about 6 years old, he was watching television one day and suddenly called, “Mom, come here! I need to tell you something!” So I put down my dish rag and headed for the family room. “I know what I want to be when I grow up,” he said. “I want to be a really tall man!” I laughed. “A really tall man? Why is that?” “Because I want to be a famous basketball player and they are all really tall!”
Wisdom often comes from the mouths of babes. Think about it. He didn’t say, “I want to learn to play basketball.” He first realized he needed to be tall. Alex did grow to be a tall man but obviously not by his own effort. God planted tallness in him before he was born. The same goes for our callings in life. A calling lies so deep within us that we cannot deny it, and we are not satisfied in our life unless we pursue it. But how do we know our calling? How do we know when we’re at all on track?
In “Building a Discipling Culture,” Mike Breen and the 3DM Team have laid out a method of growing discipleship using geometric shapes to illustrate spiritual-, personal-, and community-growth processes. I’m adapting their triangle to fit our topic here. The triangle on the right shows us how we must place God first (“Step One”) when we’re ready to grow our beautiful lives. (1) Start at the top (God): take quiet time with God. Pray for direction and then be quiet and listen. Read your Bible. (2) Go inward (You): God will grow your calling in you. Share your sense of this with a trusted spiritual partner. Write it out. Get coaching. Begin to make a plan. (3) Go outward (the world): take action on your calling. Set goals. Take some steps forward and see what happens. Then go back to (1) and keep the process going.
God, the Master Gardener, is step one to Growing Your Beautiful Life. If you don’t know where to start, take some quiet time on a regular basis. Spend some time in a garden or park or forest. Observe how God grows nature and know that He is growing you too. Trust that your Master Gardener has a plan for you – and listen for the still small voice to point the way.
Perhaps I’m showing my age here, but do you remember this nursery rhyme? “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow…”
As with many children’s rhymes written in the 1700’s, this ditty has political and religious connotations, speaking more about the queen’s attitude and the peasants’ burdens … the discordance of the outward show held up against the truths of daily life. I wonder how much has really changed since then.
During my training as a Christian Life Coach, I participated in a personal values evaluation. I discovered that one of my five top values is INTEGRITY. This means, basically, “What you see is what you get.” The outside matches the inside. Or at least this is what I strive for. Our visual, media-driven, consumer-centered culture (yep, I said it) tends not to support the development of integrity-centered living. A life of integrity doesn’t require surgery or expensive clothes or technological updates. Integrity grows out of who you are at the core of your being when you are open and honest about yourself.
How does your garden grow? Are you contrary? Are your daily choices taking you in one direction while, inwardly, you wish you were living another way? Do the words that come out of your mouth serve to strengthen your relationships, or isolate you? Are you purposefully planting the types of seeds that will grow the life you’ve always wanted? Or are you scattering any seed you find?
In tomorrow’s post, I’ll explain how you can start the process of Growing Your Beautiful Life with a God-Centered plan. In the meantime, please feel free to comment: What are your thoughts on INTEGRITY, VALUES and our CURRENT CULTURE?
I used to be envious of women who had successful ministries and would say, “God gave me this passage to lead me in all that I do.” Sure he did, I thought. He never gave me a Scripture. Oh dear. My ego was bruised and I wondered if God would ever give me a special Bible verse to build a ministry upon.
So I did what any good Christian woman would do (after pouting for just a little while): I prayed. And I waited. And I prayed some more and waited some more. Then one night, in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep … when life was in a down-turn and my faith was being tested and I wondered if my dream for ministry might have vanished in a poof of air like a regular night-time dream … I was reading Isaiah 55:12-13 and there it was:
“For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier the myrtle will sprout up;
This shall be for the Lord’s reknown,
For an everlasting sign that will not be cut off.”
I have always felt called to serve women who were struggling with starting over…struggling with knowing their value and understanding their true worth as beautiful creations of God. And this verse – this verse said it all: “Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree. And instead of the brier the myrtle will sprout up…”
Is your life like a tangle of weeds, filled with thorns and brambles, painful or just all-mixed-up? My purpose is to nurture you until those thorns become like huge Cypress trees with strong, thick trunks and arms that spread wide and provide shade for the paths of many people. My purpose is to raise you up so that those briers shall bloom like the Myrtle which, though the trunk looks small – supports more flowers than it ever looks like it should — bright, beautiful and plentiful flowers year after year!
I cannot wait to get to know you all and to join together in GROWING YOUR BEAUTIFUL LIFE!