Growing All Around by Naty Matos

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Growing is a part of life, but not always an easy one. Physically, it’s a very basic process…as the time goes by and as long as we are generally healthy it will happen without our intervention. Emotional and spiritually growth requires a little bit more intervention.

Part of the spiritual growth requires that our relationship with God and the one with ourselves grows as well and how do we accomplish that. I’m don’t have all the answers, but these are some of the things that I’ve noticed recently that have made me feel like I’m growing closer to God.

* Honesty-Everyone says that they want to know the truth, but do you really? As long as the truth is not something negative about ourselves, of course we do…well, that’s not living in the whole truth and partial truths are considered lies. First of all I think being brutally honest with yourself makes a difference. I’ve had to learn to stop and ask myself my motivation behind my actions. Do I want to do this because I like it, because I want to do it or because I feel forced to do it? In doing this am I trying to please God or please people? I can go on with the questions, but I think you get what I’m trying to say. In order for us to solve a problem we need to know what the problem is. If we’re trying to improve ourselves we need to be honest with ourselves, brutally honest!

The second part about honesty is to be brutally honest with God. Some of you stopped breathing for a second. I know, the first time I thought about it I did too. Now take a breath and bear with me. I don’t know about you, but growing up I had this concept of God, like a big eye in the sky who could see everything I do and was waiting for me just to screw up to zap me out of this world. As I grow to understand his love and mercy I have a different view, but I also couldn’t be honest with Him. He, the Lord, could not be “tainted” with the garbage in my life. I couldn’t bear to tell He who died for my sins that I was having bad thoughts or temptations, that I was about to do something that I knew was wrong and that I needed help, because it was a way to negate what He had done for me, that’s what I thought.

Then I came across this scripture, “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” Romans 7:17-19

Wait a minute, that’s me! I want to do good, I want to do right, but I just seem to not be able on my own. It took me months reading that scripture almost twice a week to get it, (I’ve always said that I’m slow). Then something happen, I was in the middle of a situation and I knew I was about to do the wrong thing and I remembered the scripture and I prayed. I was totally honest with God like I had never been before. I told him my thoughts, my motives and intentions, I recognized that I was aware that I was wrong and I said, “ I know I can’t stop myself, but I know you can stop me”. I gave him permission to intervene( remember our free will, he will not intervene in our lives without our consent)…something I had never done before. Guess what? He did. Something came about and I was unable to do wrong. It was totally weird, I thought it was coincidence, so the next time I was on a verge of doing something I knew it was wrong, I tried it again and it worked just like the first time.

The funny thing is that this doesn’t seem to be God’s plan just for me. I was talking to a friend and she has had the same experience. Some people don’t understand when they are told that they need to surrender to God , I think this is a great place to start. Be honest with him and allow him to be God and do his part.

* Accountability– I know I say this a lot, but it is true. I know for me it is. We do better in front of people that by ourselves. That doesn’t mean we’re hypocrites, it’s just that peer pressure works both for good and for bad, therefore let’s use it for good. I know that if I didn’t have a gym buddy I would have dropped that like a hot potato long time ago. It’s a proven fact, I’ve paid whole gym memberships that were not used…more than once (remember…slow).

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

If we find someone who can really be there for us when we struggle and we are there for them when they do, life it’s a lot easier. It doesn’t meant someone telling you what to do or you telling them what to do. In accountability you have to open yourself to be honest and vulnerable to another person. I know it’s scary, but remember that this person has committed to do the same with you. It means to encourage each other when one is down or in need of support. To be honest with each other when the issues are hidden behind denial, but also love each other when one or the other falls. Finally it means that you agree to pray for each other. Probably you have many people praying for you and you don’t even know who they are, but at least now you know that this person had committed to pray for you and you have committed to pray for them.

* Counsel

I have not used my friend Webster in a while. Webster (dictionary) says that counsel is advise given as a result of a consultation. This means you need to go (action word) and seek the counsel, it will not come to you. I liked the second part of the definition where it states plan of action or behavior. Basically you want to do something and you need a plan to do it and you need advise to do it if you want to better your chances at succeeding.

There are many scriptures regarding this subject. I have chosen a few to share, but the bottom line of this premise is this. You need to know what you’re doing if you want for things to go well. Also asking someone who has been down that road may save you some grief and you may still make mistakes but it is possible to learn from other people’s mistakes. Obviously we start with God. We ask him if what we’re doing in his will for our lives “ -Job 12:13 “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.”

We have a lot of people in our lives who may be wiser and more mature in their emotions and spiritual walk , regardless of their chronological age. It’s good to keep those people around and talk to them about our plans, our struggles and seek their recommendations. How many times we’ve messed up because we didn’t know any better or were to prideful to ask for help? We need mentors and counselors. People who are filled with the spirit of God and his wisdom and that could show us the right way. “ Proverbs 15:22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Word of caution: When selecting an accountability partner or a mentor, make sure that you are familiar with their walk. Also, do not chose for the only reason that the person is easy to talk to, they may be very relatable, but their counsel may make you fall or they can’t relate to the things you’re trying to do. How would that help you in the end? There may be someone who is not so easy to approach, but you know holds that wisdom that you need and it would be a sign of maturity to accept that and seek what may not be as comfortable, but more beneficial to you.

About this author:

Naty Matos

Naty Matos was born in the city of New York. She grew up in the beautiful Island of Puerto Rico and now lives in the city of Atlanta.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Psychology with a Minor in Mass Media Communications and a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling.

Naty writes Christian fiction and non-fiction. She maintains a blog on Christian Living Topics at http://www.therisingmuse.com

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