Making peace with slow growth
plus two of my favorite apps
Voxer is still one of those delightful apps that always cements its place on the “what’s saving my life” lists. It’s a walkie-talkie app where you can send voice messages, along with photos and text, and listen to incoming messages at your convenience. I only have a handful of friends that I talk to with it and I like it that way; otherwise it would be overwhelming.
One thing a friend and I chatted about a few weeks ago was that a year seems too long for goalsetting.Things change. Priorities shift. You start a job you didn’t expect. You experience loss. You have a child. I normally point myself in a certain direction long-term and run in much shorter time periods.
That week between Christmas and New Year is odd, but my favorite thing about it is how I take time to reflect on the whole year. I look over writings, my planner, even these emails. I catalogue high and lows. I answer questions that other thoughtful people provide.I take time to thank God for what He’s done and look at gaps in my own development. Pictures are also a great reflection tool.
This year, I want to do this more often. I don’t want to wait until after Christmas to reflect on my life. It’s not that I haven’t been provided opportunity to do this before. I have. I used the Get to Work Book for six or seven years and it has a dedicated space for monthly reflection. I was terrible about using it. Sometimes we have to grow into things. Those practice were clothes I couldn’t wear then. Now I’m trying them on. My boss got me a Full Focus Planner for Christmas and I’ve been using it (admittedly half-heartedly because I’ve gotten used to my google calendar).My favorite section is the weekly preview. It requires ten to fifteen minutes of focused time both looking back and looking forward. I struggle to analyze my week that much, but the practice has helped me. I pay more attention to how I’m living and how I’m living is how I’m being formed and transformed.
Christian history is also rich in guidance in reflection. The Ignatian Examen, for one example, stretches back over four hundred years. Ignatius believed that reflection on service was crucial in a life of service. The practice offers a multi-step guide to looking back over each day. I’ll freely admit that I’m not here yet (though that link makes it feel easier). The thought of that much reflection every day hurts me a little.Those are clothes I can’t wear now. Maybe one day I’ll be able to try them on. Maybe right now I could wear a small piece.
We grow like children do. We take the next step of growth. Before we run, we walk. Before we walk, we crawl. Before we crawl, we learn to sit up by ourselves. We do not expect our children to do any differently and yet we become frustrated with ourselves with where we are. Following Jesus means acknowledging the boundaries of being humans. Slow growth is one of those boundaries. We honor God and how He made us when we accept our own slow growth and cultivate an awareness (usually in community with others) of where we are. “I’m not there yet” does not mean “I’ll never be there.”
I’m reading Rich Villodas’ new book Good and Beautiful and Kind with another woman and in the introduction he says this:
Before we examine these themes, a word about patience is in order. Living a good, beautiful, and kind life—the way of Christ’s love—is not something that happens overnight. Love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit; that is to say, it grows slowly. There is no shortcut to love. The assumption that many carry is that God can produce something in us quickly, but fruit is grown over time. The gifts of the Spirit are given generously and quickly. Not so with the fruit of the Spirit. One of the dangers is that we expect the gifts of the Spirit to quickly do what only the fruit of the Spirit is meant to do slowly.
It’s going to be a great book and not just because Villodas agreed with my point.Because I’m reading it with another woman, I’ll move slowly through the book. We’ll meet every other week and I’ll have time to reflect on what he said and what stuck out to me and if I’ve actually shifted in practice or worldview or if I just read it and went on about how wonderful it was while continuing my own life.
I’m going to move slowly at practicing reflection and reading the book and growing as a person. I’m going to move slowly, not because I like moving slow,but because it’s my only choice. I can move slowly or I can quit because moving quickly isn’t an option. We grow like children grow. It’s slower than we want but if we don’t pay attention, it will fly by without our noticing. And if we aren't noticing, we aren't doing very much on purpose.
Some of this is probably personality. If it works for you, that’s great.
I diligently used the 1SE app in 2021 and I loved it. It was hit or miss last year and I tried to fill it in during that awkward week. It did remind me how much I loved it and I’ve moved back to paying attention to it this year.
I’m still considering if I will buy another one for the next quarter because I do like a lot of things about it.
If you use the enneagram as a tool, you might know that different people orient to time differently. I’m future-facing (an observation I made before I knew about the enneagram) which means reflection is very much a learned skill. Here’s a podcast episode if you’re interested.
His first book The Deeply Formed Life is one of my top-recommended books.
I decided do not like moving slowly. Thanks for asking.