I sat in bed for the two millionth, umpteenth gazillionth time, wondering how on earth I felt like I wasted another day of life doing nothing important or growth-producing.
You know… that stagnant feeling washing over you like a tidal wave of failure. The same tsunami of water that you can perhaps relate to when you’ve made a goal and fall out of it a day in a half later. Or, you determine to not eat that cookie, and yet in a shocking turn of events, 5 of them are missing, and you look around like you’re dumbfounded. Go me! I thought. I have successfully kept myself alive for another day, and nothing more.
You see, I get in these ruts occasionally. The stagnant – what am I doing with my life? Where am I going? Who am I? I need to get back on track – ruts. And those ruts lead to lack of growth and…well…more cookies.
But, after a while of rut walking, I started to ask myself a few questions to evaluate what’s getting me here? What’s keeping me here?, and what I can do about it?
And so…before you pick up another cookie, maybe ask yourself some of these questions too. Because after all, growth comes when you plant your seeds in the right soil and tend to it as if life depends on it. Because it does.
Ready for Growth
1. Who’s your focus?
This one always hits me hard right out the gate. Let’s be real. I have kids, dogs, plants. Basically, anything that seems like it can die is sitting around me under my care. And my focus is usually that. Keeping things ebbing and flowing. It’s tricky though really. Because, although it’s a noble thing to be focused on being a great employee, boss, wife, husband, mom, dad, sister, daughter, brother, son, plant sitter… if our focus is solely on them, in the process of giving, you’re not being filled by what can truly give you energy for all those things in the first place.
So, is your focus on striving to keep up? Being good at what you do? Getting an A in class? Or, is it on God? Because I’ve been slowly finding out, that when you make a shift back to putting God as your first focus – then the natural fruit of that spills into every corner of your life. You work harder, love deeper, forgive quicker, and grow deeper roots that lead to growth. And the fruit of the spirit that Galatians 5 talks about is evident.
2. How are you spending your time?
There seem to be about 45 thousand everyday tasks that masquerade themselves as “important.” And sometimes it’s hard to make sense of what is actually important. So, in a 24 hour period…what are you spending your time doing? Scrolling on social media? Binge-watching Netflix? Or, maybe you’re doing something really epic that is a great time spender, but you’re not being careful to tend to your heart as well. In the busyness of Jesus’s ministry even he retreated and rested.
Are you spending your days with tasks, lists, and to-dos? Or, have you created space for rest, leaning into the quiet, and soaking in the time well spent in the presence of Him? Lord teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12) Oh how I pray that scripture sinks deep into my heart.
3. What’s filling you?
I love the analogy of a bank account. It’s pretty simple, really. You make a deposit; you have money. You make too many withdrawals; you go into the negative. Such is life too. Are you surrounding yourself with people, situations, communities, habits, routines, and events that fill you? Or deplete you? Are you in the word? Going to church? Yoked with believers? What is filling you with life? Are you barely getting by in the bank account of life? As I write this, I’m on the cusp of making a choice to fill my soul or empty it dry, and seeing this list brings me a fresh reminder. Dry bones can come to life when we fill our soul with the living water.
4. Whose voice are you hearing?
Gosh just writing those words convicts me. Because to be real with you all…I hear some ridiculous voices sometimes louder than the rest. Here are a few maybe you can relate to. Ready? “You have too much to do to stop and rest,” “If you don’t study harder you will fail,” “If you don’t spend more time with so and so then you’re a bad fill in the blank.”, “You’re not qualified to give advice,” “nothing you’re doing is good enough” The list could go on for days. And I know you know that I know, that we know…whose voice that really is. And yet we continue to listen to the lies that stunt our growth.
But, I’m pretty sure God’s word says he comes to bring life and that we may have it more abundantly. So, check whose voice you’re hearing. Is it killing, stealing, and destroying dreams, hopes, vigor, excitement, compassion, love, joy, and life? Then replace the voice with the truth that leads to growth.
You probably have eaten through a box of cookies while reading this 8-page list of questions haha. But, I really pray these help you do some real heart-searching, self-reflecting, root pulling, re-planting, and deep watering of your soul so that your life can be growthful. There have been so many times that asking these questions stirred up a fresh vigor to run the race towards Jesus and spurred me back on the quest for growth and deep roots in Christ. So, take heart.
If you’re feeling stuck now, it’s never too late. His mercies are new every morning, and His promises never go void. If we abide in the vine, like John 15 talks about, we are guaranteed that He will prune away the not-so-great stuff, and we will begin to see fruit stem up from it.
Bio: Briana Barrios is a believer, wife, mama of two, and the creator and owner of Growth Roots Co. She received her B.S. in the field of Psychology and family studies at the California State University of Northridge and worked for the LAPD and Mayoral office of LA focused on at-risk youth programs before moving to San Diego where she began a family of her own. Soon after, Bree developed a year-long “Growth Book” journal designed to help believers grow in their spiritual journey. When she isn’t working on Growth Roots Co., Bree spends her time cooking, gardening, and adventuring with her two little ones. You can find out more about Bree and Growth Books over at her website www.growthrootsco.com!