Saturday, September 17, 2016

Know Yourself

One of the hardest parts of personal growth is self-awareness. I know of very few people who are completely self-aware, but I know far too many who have no apparent self-awareness at all. This makes personal interactions difficult and also complicates lasting life transformation.

Having self-awareness is having a correct view of who you are. It is what is true about yourself and is the first step for growth and development. Looking introspectively reveals a willingness to confront and change negative behaviors while reinforcing positive interactions and attitudes. This is a growth process which takes a heaping dose of humility as we see things we may not want to see, but need to recognize if we want to grow.

This wasn't always an area of strength for me and while I am far from where I would like to be, I feel I am more cognizant of who I am than I used to be. This has been helped by people who cared enough to tell me the truth and were patient as I worked on improving. It hasn't (isn't) been an easy process, but the consistent work pays off in better relationships and an improved understanding of who I really am moving forward.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Find the Pattern

My wife and I attended a church planting conference a few years ago and spoke with a leader who talked about examining the patterns in our lives. He said that analyzing these rhythms would enable us to see how God had worked in our past and the potential for how our future would develop. Since that conversation I've found myself thinking more about the patterns that affect my life and how I've developed them. Some of them are the result of years of influence while others are more recent as I work to make positive changes.

If we are willing to risk taking a closer look, I think we'd discover there are healthy and unhealthy patterns in our life. Some of them are positive building blocks for our future (i.e. exercise, a healthy work/rest balance, and religious practices) while others are detrimental for our health (negative thinking, destructive cycles of addictive behavior, and poor relationship choices.) Often these have become the foundational parts of life without us realizing it.

If we want to make changes in the current state of our lives, we've got to examine the patterns we live by and be willing to replace life draining behaviors with those that are life-giving. This careful introspection isn't easy because it makes us look honestly at the underlying reasons for our choices in thought, speech, attitude, and action. We then begin a lifelong journey of cutting out deep-rooted negativity and substituting better choices. This isn't done overnight, but only through a commitment to escape the cycle of unsatisfactory living.

Refusing to acknowledge and change those patterns condemns us to a journey of repeatedly making the same mistakes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Got to Go

I get excited about new ideas and the potential for change. I love the excitement of dreaming of what could be and sharing the vision with other people. The danger in new directions however is that they can stay in the idea phase if we aren't intentional. At some point we have to figure out how to make things happen and take steps of action.

If we want to see things move forward there has to be actual movement.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

What You Said

We all have certain phrases and words we commonly use. Sometimes it's a specific word we use to express our surprise or the way we react to circumstances. Most of us have even established patterns of speech we use to interact with people closest to us even if it isn't always the best.

There are some things I have purposely removed from my verbal repertoire once I realized it, but others have stayed over the years. Those that stay become words that define me, my thoughts, and even describe the people around me. I would like to say those are always healthy, but that isn't always the case.

Instead of just focusing on the specific words (although those carry a lot of weight) I might be better served to ask myself deeper questions. Am I speaking words of blessing or words of discouragement? Do people look forward to hearing me speak to them or look for ways to avoid me? Am I a bringer of life with my speech or do I take life away? These thoughts focus on the motivation for what I say instead of just correcting poor speech habits. Honestly answering these questions gives me an opportunity to make positive changes to benefit other people and become a better person.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Desire for Flavor

A friend of mine would frequently go on a diet to lose some quick pounds. He kept a pretty strict plan while he was on it and was careful about each food item he ate. He had one quirky behavior while on this plan however. When he had the desire for something sweet, he would chew up a brownie and then spit it out before swallowing it. His thought was that this gave him the taste of chocolate, but it didn't give him the calories he was trying to avoid.

If we take in teaching or an experience and are emotionally stirred but don't apply it to our lives, we are doing the same thing. We've had a taste of something, but haven't ingested it to let it have an impact on our life. If we aren't changed in some way (even minimally) we haven't really committed ourselves to what we've experienced.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Recovery Shot

A good friend of mine who was a high school golf coach once told me that if I wanted to be more successful in the game I needed to learn to hit a decent recovery shot. He said the best golfers realize they won't hit every shot perfectly and have developed the ability to recover from that mistake. Sometimes it's learning to sacrifice to get back on a level playing surface and out of uneven territory. Other times it's about navigating through hazards and tough terrain while moving toward the goal. This shot is something every golfer will need at some point.

I shared this idea with a friend over coffee this morning as I realized how we need the ability to hit a recovery shot whether we play golf or not. We are imperfect people and won't always say the right words, react in the healthiest way, choose the right path, or treat people like they should be treated. When that happens we can either keep plugging along in the wrong direction and cause greater damage or we can recover from our mistakes and poor choices. It isn't realistic to expect people to always make the right decisions, but we can work together to recover and get back on the right path.

Admitting we make mistakes is an important step. It's incomplete, however, if we don't do what's necessary to make things better.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Continually Updating

Two years ago I started a journey of personal transformation. I had reached my IHHE moment (I Have Had Enough) and committed to a a lifestyle change to improve my physical health. I didn't know exactly how things were going to progress, but I knew I wasn't content to let them stay the same. It hasn't always been easy and there have been some potential detours in the road, but I have maintained my focus and kept pushing forward. I don't know exactly where this will end up or exactly what I will look like in the future, but I feel more confident walking down this pathway.

I am still a work in progress in many different ways and not just physically. I want to see my compassion increase, my emotional health improve, to become wiser, to increase in positive influence, to be a more fully devoted follower of Christ, and to find new ways to use my personal strengths to help others. I want to be an improved husband, father, and friend who benefits the lives of others. While I may be on the right track in some of these areas, I also recognize how far I have to go. Thankfully, my entire life is part of this journey and as long as I am drawing breath I have space to improve.

There is the potential for a better version of me in the future (Craig 2.1 if you will) and I am not content to stick with the present condition. I'm willing to work even when it isn't easy and chase after that vision even though I don't know exactly what I will look like. I do know that this commitment will bring noticeable changes over time and that can sometimes be the fuel I need to carry on.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Seasons Change

One of the things I have enjoyed most from living in Georgia is the changing of seasons. While our summers tend to be fairly hot, we also enjoy an actual spring, fall, and winter too. I like the anticipation of something new and the different activities the varying seasons bring with them. I find myself reaching the end of one season and looking forward to the next with some excitement.

While I can't manipulate the weather to change based on my preferences, I can have more of an impact on the seasons in my personal life. Even though some circumstances may be out of my control I still have greater influence than I do over nature. In times of great busyness, I can choose to continue that pace of intentionally build in down time and rest. In an obvious time of personal growth, I can spend more concentrated time in meditation and journaling to help clear my thoughts. When it is a season for action, I can create opportunities for reflection and rest to make sure I'm at my best.

I want the seasons in my life to change and look forward to the differences each new one will bring. I'll enjoy them more if I'm aware of which one I'm currently in and how God is working to prepare me for the next one.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Seeking Interaction

I started to share a blog post about seasons changing (stay tuned to tomorrow for that one) but wondered how many people would actually read it on the first college football game day. As much as I write for personal release of thoughts and some manner of discipline, I also want what I write to be read.

When we speak (in whatever medium we choose to use) our hope is to be heard. It's not just communicating so we can say we communicated. It's about an interaction and hopefully a continued dialogue.