Embracing a Growth Mindset and Growing in Grace
We are just beginning to feel the drop in temperatures as the seasons shift here in New England. The cool nights come as a relief since this summer has been unusually hot and humid and rain scarce.
We are once again experiencing shifts in family dynamics as our youngest daughter prepares to head off to college in the Midwest. The house is a blur of planning, packing, shopping, and organizing as we get ready to launch our fifth child.
Another change is that my youngest son will be attending school, so for the first time in 27 years I will not be homeschooling. Though I’ll still be teaching homeschooling classes part time and know I will be involved in my grandchildren’s education in the future it’s not lost on me that a significant season is ending and a new one beginning (Have I mentioned that I envision a one room school house with all my grandkids? Too much? he,he).
I have to admit that I’m always excited when seasons change because there are so many wonderful possibilities in every change. I already have a list of goals I want to accomplish this fall, and I’m excited to be able to chip away at them!
But in every change, there are unknowns and things to learn!
At 50 years old, I have lots to learn about having a child in school. Packing lunches, for instance. I found myself asking a 34 year old mom for all of her best ideas for packing healthy, interesting lunches every day. I can see myself being one of those people who needs to buy in bulk once a month so I don’t find myself with nothing for lunch at 10 pm the night before.
Shouldn’t I know this already? No, because I’ve never needed to know it. And while packing lunches is a small matter, some changes stretch and scare us and are opportunities for growth in grace.
The what ifs of new seasons can be scary! Am I right? What if my daughter has a crazy roommate? What if the food makes her sick. What if…what if…
The old temptation to worry (as a way of feigning control) is real.
“Be anxious for nothing“, “Trust in the Lord and do good“…scripture reminds.
As a young mom, the worry was always under the surface and the struggle was real. “What if I mess these kids up. I have no idea what I am doing. What if I don’t parent the right way and my kids reject God? Maybe we are too strict? Maybe my kids will miss out!
But I had to make a choice. Whose voice would I listen to? This conscious choice mattered because the voice I listened to had the power to influence me and all of us.
And you have a choice as well. We can choose to trust God’s Word or our own wisdom. (Pssst… God knows best!)
I always found comfort in the fact that Titus 2 instructs the older ladies to teach the younger women basic stuff about living with self-control and purity, loving our husband and children, and basic home management.
God didn’t expect me to know it all! There is a learning curve to life and our Good Shepherd, who takes care of every one of our needs, knew our need to learn and provided for it. We don’t know it all and we aren’t supposed to.
Maybe you are in a new season as well. Maybe you are a:
A new mother trying to figure out how to do it all with a crying baby…or an empty nester who doesn’t know what to do with all the quiet.
A newlywed just learning to live with a new spouse…or a recent widower wondering how you’ll ever live without your spouse.
An new employee trying to grasp the dynamics of a new work environment….or an entrepreneur trying to figure out how to do it all and keep work/life balance.
In every change, God is there to help you.
Here are a few thoughts for embracing growth in a new season:
First, watch how you talk to yourself. So often we lie to ourselves because our internal self-talk doesn’t match Scripture’s truth. (The best remedy for this is to be in the Word and to memorize one verse at a time.
Laziness in the Word of God has consequences in our thought life and our actions.
I’ve noticed that apathy is a real thing in our culture and in the church especially when it comes to spiritual disciplines. Everybody has their “own truth” which is really Satan’s old lie that YOU rule supreme and that God’s rules are just optional and if you want it, you should go for it. When “your truth” is defined by your feelings, goal, or dreams, instead of God’s moral law, everyone around you is the loser. Your kids, your friends, your spouse.
Your truth may lead you to rip into someone and tell them off, but God’s Word says that our speech falls under His Lordship and He cares about how we wield our words. He commands that we should only speak truth cloaked and carried in love. This means we say hard things with real love and concern. This means we don’t speak when we can’t do that and are motivated with anger or self-interest.
Your truth may lead you to skip church because you are too tired, stressed, distracted, or annoyed but God’s truth commands us not to forsake the local assembly because worshipping God and loving others (fellowship and ministry) is the big stuff of this life.
Your truth may lead you to date a man who is not your husband because you don’t feel the love anymore, yet God tells us that there is more going on in our marriage than just our temporary happiness, and that for the sake of the gospel, we are to choose to love our husband and to do good to our him all the days of our lives.
Our truth is fickle and self-centered and usually injures someone else. God’s truth says that we deny self and obey Him for a greater good.
When seasons change and you are staring some hard thing in the face, you need a growth in grace mindset which trusts God’s Word and walks forward in its truth, not knowing the outcome.
Instead of saying, “I can’t do this…” say, “I can’t do this…yet–but by God’s grace, I can grow and learn!”
If God has called you to it, you can do it and “anything worth doing is worth doing poorly in the beginning” (Karen Andreola quote) and as you try, try, try again, you grow in skill, knowledge, and accomplishment.
Second, know that God will be with you to guide and provide exactly what you need in each new season. Maybe you think God isn’t answering your prayer fast enough or that He’s not working in the way you prayed. We can take comfort in the fact that God always does what is good for us. He moves and leads to make a way that will benefit us in the long run. He loves you (and likes you) and cares about your ultimate well being.
What I think I need is often pretty shallow.
I may think I need a steady cash-flow to solve my problems… but God may give me a reason to steadily pray that He’ll provide. Can I just tell you how many times I’ve prayed for God to provide something and the answer comes within hours or days depending on the situation? God does provide for His people, like a good Father. We can rely on that.
I may think God needs to lighten my load… but maybe God thinks the lesson of the day is a refresher course in humility so He allows frustrating situations into my life to see if I will honor Him in each reaction or not.
I may think I need someone to care for me… but God knows my real need is freedom from selfishness, so He allows me opportunities to deny self and serve others by tidying up the house, changing the toilet paper roll, and running endless errands for all of the people who need all of the things.
I may think I need better friends or a more understanding spouse…so God allows the sting of betrayal and human frailty so I’ll rely on Him and learn of His love, instead of expecting too much of sinful people who can never fill the God shaped hole in my heart.
Our goals for changing seasons should be:
to live faithfully by relying on His Spirit for power,
to be intentionally in God’s Word so that we grow in the knowledge of God,
to look for ways to change so we won’t sin and harm ourselves or others,
to look with faith to the future and to walk forward with confidence knowing that God is there and will never leave us.
Are you experiencing change in this season?
What underlying fears abut the future keep resurfacing in your mind? (Look for the thing that makes you angry, disappointed, or consumes your thoughts.)
What lies are you most tempted to believe about this new situation?
What truth about God do you need to put before you in order to “think Bible” and walk in the knowledge of God?
Praying for you as you place all these things on the alter, and put your hope in Christ alone!