Growth is one of our six basic needs as humans. Whether it's personal, spiritual, educational, physical... we all need it. If you're not growing in at least some area of your life, you'll soon get the feeling that you're bored, stagnant or stuck. You'll ask yourself questions like why am I here? What for? Growth is the reason we seek out new goals, hobbies, achievements and adventures.
Growth is something we choose to do with intention. We decide on an area (or a few areas) we'd like to grow in and then we purposefully go about planning, setting goals, forming habits, connecting with other like minded souls.... and the list goes on. If you're proactive and intentional, you 'DO'. I am a 'do-er'. What about you? Are you a 'do-er' too? 'Do-ers' like the feeling of growth, achievement, productivity and self sufficiency. This is a good thing right?
Well, it is good... until it's not.
Growth has principles. And when we ignore these principles we lose balance and perspective. Our growth becomes an addiction. It becomes the way we find and measure our significance. We strive in our growing... and so when we feel like we're not growing, we experience stress, anxiety and guilt.
This happened to me recently. I had been focussed on growing in my business with plans and goals, on managing our home, being present to my family, and growing spiritually by forming the habit of regular time with God in prayer and His word... and then I left to go on a three week holiday and all my doing went out the window... All my growing felt like it had stopped, withered and died. Guilt and anxiety were quick to set in.
I woke one morning about half way through our holiday and could no longer ignore the anxious guilty knot building in my gut. "What is this about?" I wondered. I couldn't work it out. So I convinced myself that this was normal and part-and-parcel of the package of having your own business and being away on holiday. (Didn't someone say you can never really have holidays when you run your own business??)
So, I spent the remainder of my three week holiday trying to ignore the "this-is-normal" guilt and anxiety about not actively growing while away.
I returned from this holiday only last week and realised I was a bit of an anxious mess. Oh, and did I mention....I'm only home for 10 days and then I'm off again next week for another two week holiday!!! This was way too much for a "do-er" like me to deal with without loading on the anxiety and guilt. (I won't go into the details about how these two holidays ended up back to back like this, BUT I did choose to go on both because I know that the significant loved ones I'd connect with on these trips are way more important than business).
So, I did the one thing I know ALWAYS works. I took it to God and asked: "Is it possible to put all my "doing/growing" aside AND to enjoy holidaying without guilt, stress and anxiety?"
...and true to God, in a number of separate incidences over the next days He wove together His answer. And one again, I've been blessed with the gift of new insight and revelation through these three events:
Firstly, I climbed in my car and switched the media to listen to Joyce Meyer's resource of the month and her topic was this: "The Law of Gradual Growth." She started off by teaching how the bible speaks of "seedtime and harvest". She says how God revealed to her that there is indeed 'seedtime'... but then there is also 'time' and only after a period of time will there be a 'harvest'. There is a time to plant seed.... then a period of waiting will pass before we see any harvest. This got me pondering.... could it be that before my holiday, while in my "doing" mode, I had planted much seed.... and while in my "holiday" mode I was giving my seed some time to grow... and later I'd still see a harvest? mmm. What if holiday time away was not wasted time???
Secondly God reminded me about what we experienced when we arrived home from our holiday:
After unpacking the car and making a cup of tea, my husband and I ventured out into the back garden to soak up the last rays of sun and to plan our week ahead. We stepped out the back door and literally stopped in our tracks. In only three short winter weeks the garden had grown so much! There was a full load of ripe tomatoes to pick and the grass had grown to over ankle deep... mmm.
... All this growing had definitely happened without any of my doing!
Then thirdly, I dusted off my bible to once again spend time in His word (no, i didn't take my bible on holiday) and was led to Mark 4.
Mark 4 : 26-28 The Passion Translation
Jesus also told them this parable: "God's kingdom realm is like someone spreading seed on the ground. He goes to bed and gets up, day after day, and the seed sprouts and grows tall, though he knows not how. All by itself it sprouts, and the soil produces a crop; first the green stem, then the head on the stalk, and then the fully developed grain in the head."
Ok... I was slowly getting it. God was showing me that yes, my 'doing' has a role to play... my 'doing' is to plant, to sow, to tend, to water, to weed... but that my actual growing was His doing! The phrase "Let go and let God" comes to mind. God was showing me that my growth was not all my own doing after all! Yes, it's okay to stop doing and to take time to rest. In fact it's needed!
When I looked closer, I was also amazed to see that my business had in fact grown too while I was away. God is teaching me to trust in Him. To hand it all over to Him. To rely on Him. He can do so much more than I can. Yes, I have a part to play.... but so does God. Then He gently and kindly whispered these words to me:
"My daughter! Yes! Go on holiday and leave things to me. Do you trust me? Remember, there's stuff to do that only I can do. I have great plans for you... they'll be here when you get back... only a little further grown than when you left..."
Wow, wow, wow!!! So, I am delighted to say that yes, I am about to start packing my bags again, and this time round, anxiety, stress and guilt will definitely NOT be accompanying me on this trip!
I pray that this revelation becomes your reality too :). I'd love to hear how this blesses you!
Much love and smiles,