Growing Out Of Stagnation

The sky is gray, air cold to my bones, and times a-changin’. When I take a look at the internal workings of my being, I almost have to shield my eyes to the volatile state of restlessness that could very well erupt at any moment. I don’t always want to engage with the harder feelings and beliefs I hold close to my being. Wouldn’t it just be easier if I shoved it all under the rug, let the housekeeper vacuum it while I’m away on vacation?

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past 23 years, it’s that life does not work that way. Or at least things fall apart from the inside out if left unattended. One of the biggest struggles I’ve been presented with this year are all the whys behind what I do, the fears with which I live in accordance, the habitual responses to life’s circumstances.

It’s humorous how, when we feel as if we have life figured out, life turns around and throws an overwhelming encyclopedia of reasons to the contrary in front of our eyes. We can choose to either take a deep look at the contents and use those suggestions for growth or ignore our potential for transformation and remain in the sludge of stagnant life.

A week ago, I felt on top of the world. I was proud of the growth I’ve encountered, the friends I’d made, the leadership roles I’ve stepped into in the past few months of living in Colorado. Whereas I was feeling like a totally new person just a few days ago, I once again have been confronted with the disheartening truth that there is nothing really new under the sun. I still interact in limiting patterns with old friends and family members, I still struggle with pride and grace, and those old injuries make an appearance at the most inconvenient times.

Will you stop tripping me up?!

While this is my current reaction to the problems that are annoyingly emerging, the irony is that I must really say this to myself. Because we are ultimately the ones who prevent ourselves from moving forward, even when we want to move on from the things that haven’t worked for us in the past. I want to point out that our problems themselves are not what hold us back; for those are the symptoms of our broken humanity, not the cause. We are the cause. Sometimes we try stuffing our feet into shoes we have outgrown, and like the many maidens trying on Cinderella’s glass slipper, its constraining shape is too small for the new form of our lives, and suffocates us from the refreshing nutrients we require to bloom.

The beauty of living in brokenness is that it prompts us to desperation, which leads to change. Without this desperation, we do not have the desire to change badly enough to warrant an appropriate response to our shortcomings. Not that we need to be perfect. But we are creatures of development, and we are meant to evolve into better, truer versions of ourselves.

As I sit writing this, a song I discovered last spring just came on my playlist. Part of the chorus goes like this: “I had to shatter to pieces / You made me reveal myself.” Perfect timing, no?

It is the moments where we deeply encounter our brokenness that we can find the resolve and motivation to move forward with life. Sure, it is uncomfortable and difficult beyond belief to not only identify but to also leave behind the places of comfort we have inhabited in the past. But it is beyond essential that we do so for the sake of our personal development. Otherwise, we will remain complacent with stagnation in the dysfunctional habits we have created.

Weren’t we made for something greater?