I am delighted to again feature my daughter Michelle on my blog. Michelle is a counselor in the Denver area, with lots of wisdom and experience. This is the first of a series she is writing on the realities and practicalities of achieving true life change.
I am particularly fond of three things when it comes to being a follower of God:
- We never know all of God. How bored and how arrogant might we become if we could fully comprehend and know all there is to know about the God of the universe. We may even begin to believe we could handle everything without him.
- God never stops growing and changing us. Perfection, I’m convinced, would be both unsatisfactory and pride producing.
- God uses us for His glory at every step and season of our growth and life. This truly astonishes me. With the view I now have of my own life in hindsight, I’m amazed and humbled that he used every strong and every broken step along the way.
So what about change?
The longer I am around people, the more I am convinced we would generally prefer comfort and control to discomfort and fear most days of our lives. But I don’t know many people who have experienced deep change when they were comfortable.
There must be, in our minds, some benefit to moving forward into something new that outweighs the benefits of staying where we are. Sometimes the benefit of staying put is simply that it is known, and in that way comfortable, even when it is sometimes painful.
Discomfort so often provides the catalyst we need to move from simply staying put, into something new, different; into possibilities.
We see this concept over and over in Scripture. One of my favorite passages says “…we rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance proven character, and proven character produces hope.” (Romans 5:3-4) God delights to grow us in all of our life circumstances, both in our own development toward the person we are created to be, but also in our understanding of Him.
Basic human motivation depends on hope. The hope referred to here is probably both temporal and eternal.
And, though God is fully capable of working to produce change in us without our willing participation, it is my observation that it seems to often go more smoothly when we work with the process instead of against it.
It could be that you are experiencing a longing, a restlessness, a budding desire to grow. We have seasons where we, like a plant leaning into the rays of sunlight, yearn and long for more and greater growth.
You may be unsatisfied, uncomfortable, even suffering. Other seasons we feel little, we are dry, in pain, or in crisis. Any season may contain the catalyst we need to move toward change. Awareness brings opportunity to change. Willingness to participate with God in the process deepens our growth—growth in character and in faith.
What are you experiencing today? How do you want to grow? What could change look like in your life?
Michelle Essary is a Licensed Professional Counselor working as a director at Southwest Counseling Associates in Littleton, Colorado. Michelle leads Missionary Care Services, a branch of Southwest Counseling that focuses on and specializes in care for international ministers at all stages of their ministry.
She has 11 years experience in Christian ministry and grew up in a missionary family. She served overseas, in high school, college and leadership ministry. Michelle has training in individual, marital and premarital and relationship issues, family and group therapy. She specializes in missionary and TCK care, depression, anxiety, women’s issues, stress management, and identity issues
She and husband Brad live in Colorado with their two boys and hound dog Calvin. You can follow her on Twitter @essaryme. And she’s my daughter!