The last two years have been two of the most stretching, challenging, and growth producing years of my life. My approach to living had to change. Anxiety was growing as I was facing several difficult situations. In the midst of these challenges, my wife and I decided to have an extended family member move in with us for a fresh start to his life. My last two years have not looked like a straight line going up from left to right, but if I look at where I was then and where I am now, I can see growth. My growth has not always been pretty and methodical, but it has been real.
Struggles Can Create Resilience.
My guess is that we all have situations and struggles in our lives that raise our anxieties and make life quite challenging. If we are going to have resilience and become better healthier people through them, something has to change. We have to change how we approach things, how we think, and sometimes we have to have a change of heart.
Change rarely comes easily, but researchers have found that there are five major catalysts that bring about healthy change in our lives.
How to Make Healthy Changes
- Practical Teaching: We are made to be life-long learners. From our first days on earth to our last days, we are capable of learning. We go through preschool, elementary school, middle and high school, and some continue into college, masters, and PhD work. Our minds are wired for learning. Practical teaching takes concepts and truths and helps us apply them to our everyday lives.
- Private Disciplines: There are many private disciplines found in and outside of Scripture that can facilitate change. Praying, reading, meditating on truth, journaling, exploring the wonders of nature, giving, fasting, and other disciplines can be used by God to change us. These disciplines are usually personalized to our wiring and are often, but not exclusively, practiced in solitude.
- Personal Ministry: We are all created in God’s image and equipped with gifts and strengths that bring about personal change as we tap into them and use them for the benefit of others. Some of my biggest seasons of growth included going into downtown feeding the homeless, mentoring some young adults, and shopping with my family for Christmas gifts for people who weren’t going to have gifts if we didn’t help. It is in giving that we change. Personal ministry for others gives us purpose and fulfillment, and it changes us.
- Providential Relationships: It is one thing to listen to someone teach or read about a concept in a book. It is a beautiful thing to have a person listen to you and care for you and be with you in tough times. It is in these relationships that we have hope and support and inspiration. Sometimes it is through one interaction with a person, and often it is through a personal, consistent interaction that we find strength and hope. We are made for relationships, and God uses relationships to change us.
- Pivotal Circumstances: At times, we are thrown an unbelievable gift that feels like a lottery ticket, and this can change us. However, we are often thrown into tough situations where it can feel like our anchor is gone, and we just can’t see our way clear. I recently heard that parents want two things for their kids- resilience and a pain free life. Unfortunately, those two things don’t go together. Circumstances can kill us, and they can also be used to change us. I will rarely ask God for a pivotal circumstance. I am learning that they happen, whether we want them or not. As I look back on the last few years, I can say that my circumstances have changed me in multiple ways. My resilience has grown, and my hair loss has been evident to all.
If you want to change and experience change, dive into numbers one through four above. As for number five, just accept them when they come, and change will happen through those as well.