Looking back, I can easily see so many moments of growth in 2019. I can look back with such joy, and even pride in seeing how much I've grown.
But I can also look back at the year with extreme disappointment in my lack of growth. I'm not entirely sure what I expected of myself (and maybe of God too) when I chose the word grow, but I'll be honest and say that I don't feel like I "met the goal"...even though I wouldn't even say that I set a goal, per se. It's complicated.
Anyways, I don't feel like I grew enough. But then I have to stop myself. Do we ever, in life, feel like we've grown enough? How much growth is "enough"? And I also think that, some of the growth won't be visible until later...
From my blog post where I shared my word for 2019, I broke grow down into four parts. I'm hoping that breaking down these four parts will help me to see more growth than I can see if I think of my growth as a whole in 2019.
As you might recall, I used the four parts from Luke 2:52, which says "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor God and man".
- Read more books: So I didn't read as many books as I would have liked, but I do feel like the ones I read were exactly what I needed to be reading at the time. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Remember God by Annie F. Downs - That ending. Bawled my little eyes out. Love me some AFD!
- Let's All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs - Technically, I read most of this one in 2018 and finished it in 2019, but I'm still counting it!
- Becoming by Michelle Obama - Such a good read. Loved learning more about her life story and perspective.
- Garden City by John Mark Comer - This one took me awhile to get through due to the content, but it was a very good read.
- You Are the Girl for the Job by Jess Connolly - A must-read. I just read it in October, and I already want to read it again. Such incredible encouragement and wisdom.
- Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung - I read this book in two days during Christmas break. And again, I already want to re-read it at a slower pace to really take it all in.
- Pray regularly: I tend to go through phases where I pray a lot, and then not so much...and up and down and back and forth. I can't say that I grew a ton in this area, but I did journal a lot more of my prayers so that feels like growth to me!
- Seek out wisdom from people: I can list a handful of people who I was a bit more vulnerable with this year, both with joys and disappointments. It can be hard for me to be vulnerable, but I feel like I grew (and continue to grow) in sharing with others and seeking wisdom from them. I'm blessed to have some very wise people in my life, and for that I am thankful.
- Learn more: Thankfully, I feel like I always have a desire to learn and seek out information. I wanted to learn more about a few specific topics (social work, Romania and the Enneagram) in 2019, and I did better with some than others. From best to worst, I'd say I learned the most about the Enneagram, a little about Romania, and a tiny bit about social work. I rank them in this order because I sought out a lot of information about the Enneagram...I learned more about Romania simply by continuing to live here and ask questions...and sadly, I wouldn't say that I necessarily learned specific/concrete things about social work. I guess that's why I'm thankful for continued growth. Must keep learning...
- Work on overall health: I kind of broke this one down into four more parts: physical, emotional, relational and spiritual. Much like "Learn more", I did better with some than others.
- Physical: I would say that I grew in my understanding of how important choices (food, water, exercise, products used) are when it comes to physical health.
- Emotional: This one is always ongoing...
- Relational: I deepened some relationships this year, and for that, I am extremely grateful.
- Spiritual: Thankfully, this is always an ongoing process. I don't feel like we can/should ever reach a point of being "fully grown" in our relationship with God. I always want to be learning more and growing in my relationship with Him.
In favor with God
- Grow in relationship: Again, not sure if it's possible to be "fully grown" in one's relationship with God, but I do feel like there has been growth in this area. I tried to spend more intentional time with Him, and to be obedient to what He asked me to do.
- Focus on being with Him vs. doing things for Him: I tried to prioritize this concept a bit more this year. It can be a bit of challenge when others have different expectations about how "productive" I should be or how I should be spending my time, but I'm slowly learning the importance of taking my directives from HIM in this area. This is an area of continued growth as even my own expectations (about productivity) get in the way sometimes too.
- Grow where He has placed me: I feel like I've continued to grow into my life in Romania...in my ministry, my work with Him here, my call to this place, my relationships, etc. So so so thankful that He placed me here in Romania.
- Open my mind, circle, heart: As an introvert, a somewhat private person and an Enneagram 9, I knew this one would be hard for me. I typically like to keep things to myself and to stay in my bubble, but I do believe there was a tiny bit of growth. I opened my mind to new ideas. I tried to widen my circle and heart by letting others in a little closer.
- Be more aware of how I treat people: Learning more about the Enneagram definitely helped me to grow in this area. I try not to point everything to the Enneagram, but it's definitely an amazing resource and tool that helps me to understand myself and others better.
- Improve communication skills: Can I just say "see above"...? Yes, it's my blog post so that's what I shall say. See above.
And there you have it, my growth in 2019.
I grew. I didn't grow.
I'll always be growing...and that's okay.
I'm thankful for slow and steady growth.
When I think about all of the ways I didn't grow this year, these last few sentences encourage me to focus on continued growth in the most beautiful way. I am thankful for Morgan Harper Nichols and the way she writes about growth.
"...and you may not have been able to notice all the ways you're growing. But I promise you, beyond your knowing, you were blooming. Your roots were growing deeper. Your heart was growing strong, your soul, a well of life."