INSIDE: As a Christian, you are supposed to experience joy in the Lord, right? So why do you feel so frustrated and stuck? Why aren’t you growing spiritually?
I could hear them fighting in the other room…again. It seemed like that was all my kids ever did and I was just tired of dealing with it. I was tired in general. Raising kids, taking care of a home, running a business – it was exhausting!
I had developed that habit of screaming from the couch rather than actually getting up to see what was wrong. It brought momentary peace, but never solved the problem. I knew it, but I couldn’t make myself care enough to deal with the real issue. Unfortunately, that meant it just got worse. And, while I loved my kids, I found myself liking them less and less.
Can you relate?
Maybe it’s not your kids you struggle with. It could be frustrations with your spouse, a co-worker, or a neighbor.
Maybe it’s not a person at all, but your lifestyle. Your health isn’t where it needs to be. Your job is draining. When you look around, you just aren’t satisfied with where you are.
You feel grumpy, annoyed, and somewhat apathetic. You want things to change but have given up thinking they ever will.
Brace yourself, friend, because I am about to dish out some tough love.
Stop complaining about results you don’t have because of work you didn’t do.
Dissatisfied with an unfulfilling career? Who controls your attitude on the job and how much effort you put in at work each day?
Discouraged by your physical health? Who controls what you eat and how much you exercise?
Defeated by your chaotic schedule? No matter how much is on your To-Do list, who controls how much planning goes into your day?
Depressed because of a failed relationship? Who controls the way you treat and respond to another person?
It is true that you cannot control the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of others. And yes, sometimes “life” just happens. BUT…
You can control how you react to your circumstances and the people in them.
In areas of your life where you are unhappy, it is time to step back and take responsibility for the part you are playing. You can be short-tempered, lazy, and unforgiving.
Or you can choose to:
- work for the glory of God and not man’s approval
- break bad habits when it is hard (and even painful) to do so
- find peace and self-control in the middle of difficult circumstances
- not revile when reviled, love when not loved, and forgive when you haven’t received an apology
In the book of Phillipans, when speaking about being content in whatever circumstances he finds himself, Pauls says,
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance, and need.Phillipians 4:12 English Standard Version
The #1 reason you are not growing spiritually is you haven’t accepted that you need to change.
Does that sound unfair and even impossible? If so, it’s okay! Jesus knew you would be completely inadequate to accomplish this on your own. That is why He didn’t leave you to do it on your own!
As a Christian, you have the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is that little voice in your head that tells you how you are acting is not okay. It is that painful prick you feel in your heart when you know you have been overly harsh. It is that urge to make amends with someone you haven’t been getting along with even though they don’t seem to want to make amends with you.
The Holy Spirit brings conviction when it is needed but you must act on that conviction.
It is only then that you will begin to develop a character like Jesus. It is only then that you will find your circumstances improve. But not because they have changed, because you have.
Growing spiritually will allow you to discover that your disappointment (or happiness) is only temporary because it is an emotional reaction to what is going on around you. However, like Paul, you can be continually joyful in the Lord no matter what you are going through because He is the source of your peace and contentment.
After months of trying to ignore the fact that both my kids and I were miserable, I knew something had to change. And I knew what it was.
It didn’t happen overnight and I didn’t react perfectly every time, but eventually, I allowed the Holy Spirit to guide me as I began to be a more intentional, patient mother and wife. This took self-examination, sacrifice, and a lot of prayer!
(You can read more about that process in my post How to Stop Overreacting When It’s Your Default Mode.)
Spiritual growth isn’t easy, friend.
It requires humility, sacrifice, and endurance when life is hard. But it is also isn’t optional in the life of Christian. So if you aren’t growing spiritually, it is time to own your responsibility, repent and allow the Holy Spirit to begin working on you.
You got this because He’s got you.
For more about why you may not be experiencing spiritual growth, check out this post 5 Ways We Stunt Our Spiritual Growth.