“Releasing the Old, Receiving the New” has been my motto for many years. I apply it to every aspect of life, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically since they all interconnect. Important it is to remain open to growth in all of these areas so that we don’t become stagnant. Areas in which we become stagnant throw off the balance of our whole being.
Openness, balance and boundaries work well together to keep us moving forward in releasing the old and receiving the new.
Openness is crucial to growth because if we stay closed to any particular thing, God cannot teach us about it. Thus, we are resisting Him in that area because He wants to teach us His view in all things.
For example, we may have buried paradigms of Him that are projections from our childhoods. If we get stuck in those mindsets, we will never know Him as He is and leave ourselves enduring an unsatisfying relationship with Him. Another example, we may associate ourselves stringently with a political party when God may want us to release the legion and associate exclusively with Him. It’s good to keep an open mind, but not so open that our brains fall out.
Balance is crucial to growth because it keeps us from getting off kilter, as mentioned above. Try drawing a circle on a piece of paper. Like a pie, cut it into four pieces: spiritual, emotional/social, mental, and physical. Then list the contributions you make to each section and how often. Whichever section is lacking attention, examine it and find appropriate enjoyable activities to fill it in order to balance out your life.
For example, if you are overly sedentary, in the physical section you may want gradually to incorporate a program including the following: weights (2x/wk), cardio/bursting(3x/wk) and regular stretching. Even taking a walk once a day is a simple addition to your life that will positively affect the whole.
Another example, if you are aging and concerned about mental acuity, you might add to the mental section mentally challenging activities such as doing crossword puzzles, reading or dancing (shown surprisingly to be most effective at preventing mental deterioration). In the emotional arena, are you connecting with supportive and insightful people on a regular basis to help guide you through the maze of life? And spiritually, you might want to consider whether you growing consistently in learning and applying Truth to your life?
Ask God to show you personally how to round out your life according to His purposes for you, then watch continually for His response(s). There is always enough time to do the will of God and you can always re-prioritize your life.
Boundaries are crucial to growth because they protect us. As wonderful as people can come across, they can also attempt to control, smother or manipulate us. Have you ever felt caught in a sticky web in the presence of a particular person? Yuk! Their habits are usually unintentional, however, that does not excuse their behavior. When we encounter such problems with others, we can examine where our soul boundaries are broken.
For example, if you had a controlling mother and never stood up to her (because maybe you never knew that was an acceptable option), you may be allowing others, like her, to control you as well. Receive the situation as a lesson and learn how to grow in it. Read the book Boundaries (Cloud& Townsend, Amazon) and prayerfully apply over time these principles to your life. Join a support group (church group, Codependents Anonymous, start your own group, see New Life and Living Waters Ministries and Twelve Step Programs Resources page) to be strengthened and effective in your efforts.
Without boundaries, we can grow only so far since we will continue to allow people to hold us hostage all around. Can you believe that I didn’t know about boundaries until I was 35 years old? But, boy, once I learned about them, I applied them and my life changed drastically for the better.
Learning and growing can feel scary if we have been stagnant for long periods of time. Stagnancy loves to creep up on us especially when we have been through a traumatic circumstance. During times of stagnancy, we often become attached to idols (mindsets, habits, etc.) and unfortunately, the idols soon control us. Step up to the plate and ask God to reveal the idols in your life that you are allowing to hinder your growth. You may be surprised at what He reveals.
God has a beautiful path laid out specifically for each of us, but we may not be able to see it with all the idols blocking our view. But after the counterfeit gods are revealed, our souls slowly adjust to the truth that we really don’t need them. Then the Holy Spirit comforts us, replaces those areas with things of value and shows us a better way. We are then granted the opportunity to begin an exciting adventure of living in the freedom and power of God’s presence.
Openness, balance and boundaries work together to help us develop the stability and strength we need to pursue living in God’s presence. And we do that by releasing the old and receiving the new.
Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity (idols and idolatry); and restore me to vigorous life and health in Your ways.
A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones.
Even so, every healthy (sound) tree bears good fruit [worthy of admiration], but the sickly (decaying, worthless) tree bears bad (worthless) fruit.
2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom).