The idea of personal growth and transformation as an ongoing process can seem daunting in contrast with the prevailing cultural trend toward instant gratification. Perhaps one of your first struggles toward fruition will be against this ingrained approach to life. There is plenty in our culture that seeps into our attitudes unconsciously to persuade us to expect instantaneous formation rather than steady progress for the things we want to change.We seem to forget that everyone is in a process of growth and change! Every thought we believe, every choice we make, every action we take, every emotion we allow to shape our behavior, every response we have to the world around us, every person we allow ourselves to connect with, every reaction we have toward the things that surround us—all of these things, little by little, are molding and making us into some kind of being, for better or for worse.
It is important that you believe that personal growth is possible for you and that it will happen. God designed living things to grow, and your life is precious and of great value. As a means of encouragement, just take a look at the living things that are constantly changing around you.
Scientists, physicians, artists, and scholars all attest to the notion that spending time in nature is crucial for our well-being. Here in the Pacific Northwest where natural beauty is abundant, you do not have to look far to glean the information that nature has to offer regarding the process of personal growth.
For example, fruits and berries thrive here. I think they have much to tell us about personal growth and becoming the person we are meant to be. Let’s take a closer look at a Blueberry bush, for instance.
An Example from Nature
For most months of the year, the Blueberry bush is hardly recognizable by its name. Even when the plant begins to bud and flower, there is no evidence of a blueberry there at all. We come to understand that the plant derived its name for all that it will become when it reaches its full potential.
Likewise, when God looks at your life He sees it all in a panoramic view, from past to present to future. If you were having a difficult morning before reading this, take heart! The day isn’t over yet and you have this moment to begin again.
The Bible tells us that God knows the end of a matter from the beginning and as you cultivate a relationship with Him you will grow from faith to faith, strength to strength, and from glory to glory — however, you will need to have patience in the process.
Components of Personal Growth
Each stage of growth for a Blueberry bush, as well as for your own personal growth, is a time of preparation for the next. In the cold, winter months of dormancy, life slows down in order for hardiness to increase. When the weather warms again the roots revive and begin to produce sugar for later growth. Life becomes sweet!
Buds and blossoms begin to appear and the plant finally reaches maturity and the fullness of fruition. And so the process of growth continues from bud to blossom to finally bearing ripe, delicious fruit. Now let’s think about how it (and you) will get there.
Planting in Good Soil
Seasoned gardeners know that the first place to start is with the condition of the soil. Blueberries prefer soil that is acidified, so the pH levels need to be tested in order to know if fertilizer should be added or perhaps compost to retain moisture.
Jesus referenced this as well in what is known as the Parable of the Soils. The account of the parable can be found in all three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; and Luke 8:4-15). For the purpose of this article, I have chosen to use Luke’s rendition of the story because his focus seems to be on what it takes to endure in faith and live a life that bears good and lasting fruit:
“As a large crowd was gathering, and people were flocking to Him from every town, He said in a parable: ‘A sower went out to sow his seed. As he was sowing, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Other seed fell on the rock; when it sprang up, it withered, since it lacked moisture. Other seed fell among thorns; the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. Still other seed fell on good ground; when it sprang up, it produced a crop: 100 times what was sown.” ~ Luke 8:4-8
In telling this parable, Jesus intends to motivate us to think about the condition of our hearts and whether or not we have the quality of soil that will bear good fruit in our lives. For instance, is the soil of your heart shallow and superficial? Rocky and cluttered with doubts and distractions? Thorny and hindered with worry and the cares of this world? Or is it rich, fertile, open, receptive, and gracious?
LightIn addition to good soil, blueberries need light. In fact, 6-8 hours of full, direct sun daily in order to thrive and produce harvests. However, what we don’t always realize is that before the plant was able to bud and flower and produce fruit, it was in dormancy.
During dormancy the plants are protected from harsh winter conditions in order to survive. When sunlight becomes more scarce, they drop their leaves in order to soak up all the sunlight they can. Although dormancy is a time when life doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, nurturing is taking place deep below the surface in order for the plant to reach its full potential. It is a time when grounding is taking place.
When it comes to bearing fruit, if you aren’t caring for yourself, you’ll be limited in how you can care for others. Receiving the help and support of a professional counselor who is compassionate and skillful is a wonderful way to invest in and care for yourself.
In fact, a considerable amount of new research suggests that developing a compassionate mind leads to better physiological health, improved psychological well-being, and enhanced personal relationships. Furthermore, self-compassion includes being kind to yourself, realizing that your experiences are a part of common humanity, and learning how to guide and accept your thoughts and feelings without becoming identified by them.
Interestingly, Blueberry plants grow best in pairs. In trusting relationships with one another such as entering into a therapeutic alliance with a professional counselor, we are always growing stronger together. If you are ready to branch out into more fruitful living and pursue personal growth, please don’t hesitate to connect with me or one of the other counselors in the online counselor directory.
How Christian Counseling Can Help with Personal Growth
Jesus said, “Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit because you can do nothing without Me” (John 15:4-5).
Furthermore, Jesus said, “There are some things people cannot do, but with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). These verses remind us of our need to stay connected with Christ. He is our source of life and our stability in an ever-changing world. He is the One we run to when we need a miracle. Our lives are transformed as we discover who God has created us to be and believe that we are loved by Him more than we can imagine.
The benefits of Christian counseling are numerous. However, it all begins with connection; our connection with God, and also in healthy, safe, and life-giving relationships with each other. Christian counselors are uniquely set apart to reach beyond the limitations of our human understanding and abilities to access the unlimited resources we have available to us in relationship with Christ.
Christian counseling for personal growth is an invitation to partner with the Holy Spirit to help you to process your thoughts and emotions and adopt new ways to monitor and modify them that will bring healing and restoration to your life.
In essence, it is an invitation for you to begin to see yourself through God’s eyes and to make meaning of your life that will fill you with hope and joyful expectation for your future. The work that is being done in counseling is achieved in a collaborative effort and by relying upon timeless Biblical truths as well as the most current empirical research in psychotherapy.
Here is an interesting side note: Blueberries are an antioxidant superfood! They are low in calories, packed with nutrients, and the top favorite food recommended by doctors and nutritionists. Additionally, they are high in potassium and vitamin C and work as an anti-inflammatory.
It may be helpful for you when life feels hard, meaningless, and long in a season that looks bleak and barren, to take a moment to be kind to yourself; pour yourself a blueberry smoothie or simply enjoy a handful of this beautiful, delicious fruit and be filled with wonder at the process of growth it took to get there. From bud to blossom to berry, your efforts toward personal growth are going to be worth it all!
“Freshly Picked Blueberries”, Courtesy of Vince Fleming, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Ripe Blueberries”, Courtesy of Andrea Akers, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Blueberries on a Branch”, Courtesy of Jael Vallee, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Blueberry Shakes”, Courtesy of Sharon Chen, Unsplash.com, CC0 License