In our spiritual life, we want to know if we are making progress, but much of growth and formation is intangible, so we have to look deeper than a mere measurement.
It wasn’t the answer I was expecting, but when we dug a little deeper, I could see the wisdom.
I was talking with a counselor, and I asked him how do we know if we are growing spiritually or not? There isn’t any objective measuring tool where we can say we have moved 5 points ahead or back. That would really open us up to feelings of pride or failure.
We are like a cup in which energy both fills and drains. But we can grow by paying attention to the cup and understanding the fillers and the drainers.
It was always a challenge to get them to care for themselves. They were always giving out to others, and I could see that life was being sucked out of them.
I explained that you can’t give out of an empty cup, but self-sacrifice and martyrdom had been drummed into them from childhood. They remembered that Sunday School song – J.O.Y. Jesus first, Yourself last, and Others in between sung to the merry little tune of Jingle Bells.
Words said, have power. Self-deprecation is to pray against the self, but we can learn to pray for the self and so develop healthier thinking patterns.
It was the words at the end of his sentence that caught my attention.
‘I’m so stupid; I always do things like that’.
You learn to notice them—little words used as qualifying comments that disempower the self.
I think that many of us have little words or sentences that we probably tell ourselves and others. Sometimes they slip out in conversation.
Maybe they are offered up as an excuse or reason for things being the way they are.
Most of these thought sentences are kept quietly to ourselves, where they can continue to shape and poison our thinking. We say them so many times that we become used to them. They are our default thinking regime.
As a child, I was taught to ‘not think too highly of oneself’ Romans 12:3 and that ‘pride comes before a fall’ Proverbs 16:18
Our brains can be so busy that it can feel like a concussion, but we can help the brain recover by finding some still waters to rest next by.
When I wrote the first draft of this post, I was sitting next to a small stream. There wasn’t much water flowing through it because it is summer and we haven’t had a good rainfall for over 60 days.
But still, the trickle provided life to many. There were some Kokopu (a native New Zealand fish), some birds that would refresh and wash, insects sipping, and tree roots merging with the waters. The water was also being pumped out to beautiful gardens and orchards. Water troughs were being kept full for thirsty horses.