Posts Tagged ‘growth’

We don’t know what we don’t know…..

When we realize we don’t know, most of the time we don’t possess the correct questions to help us begin to know what we need to know….. (now stay with me..)

And, most of the time, we only discover what we don’t know after we have made mistakes, and wish we could fix them.

It’s so true, isn’t it?……

Each month, through our ministry at Awakened to Grow, I teach workshops for personal growth and development.  This morning, the subject was “Parenting: How to Discover and Develop Gifts in your Child.”  For three hours, we discussed personalities, parenting styles, bonding gaps, learning styles, and the process of connecting with children on a heart-level. I was particularly touched by one participant who came.  She is a single gal, who came not because she has children of her own, but because she is a teacher who wants to help her more emotionally disconnected students.

Why, you might ask….

Because emotionally disconnected students don’t really learn or absorb.  They just memorize facts, and forget them later on.  This woman knows instinctively knows that if she can get her students to connect with her as the teacher, they will learn.

When our children were smaller, I mistakenly thought that a more structured and somewhat rigid environment would help them to become better students.  I scheduled, made task-lists, and sometimes over-organized our home-schooling/learning environment.  It didn’t work.  Wow, that’s an understatement. It really, really didn’t work.

I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

When I discovered that I didn’t know, I realized that I had no idea what questions I should ask in order to learn a different pathway.

It is the same way in emotional development, which, by the way is necessary for both genders.  When we count the male gender out of the process during boyhood, we damage their souls.  We stunt them as men; turning them angry and violent… or worse, we cripple them in their leadership skills later in life.  They find it difficult to find the courage to walk forward without looking over their shoulders.

We hinder them from hearing the Spirit of God as adult men.

Emotional development does not track with the growth of our physical bodies. In his research on the levels of moral development at Harvard, Lawrence Kohlberg divided the steps of emotional/moral development into five stages.  Level 1 descibes a person who is emotionally infantile, unaware and out of touch.  At the other end of the spectrum, Level 5 describes a person who is able to fully invest in relationships, connecting with and investing vulnerability in others unselfishly on a consistent basis.  Sadly, even as adults, more than 90% of the world’s population does not move past level 3 — self-centered, self-absorbed, unable to really understand other people around them. 

So what prevents us from growing?

Here is the the first key:  Unless a person intentionally addresses an area of relational living; assessing, addressing, and changing it; they will not, they cannot grow.  They might try to imitate a behavior, or keep a rule in order to save a relationship — but they will not be able to make real steps towards adult living. For example, if a man has had a difficult childhood, say, where he could not relate to his mother; that man will find it difficult to relate to women in his adult life in a healthy manner.  He will also find it difficult to relate to his daughters.  He won’t be a good communicator.  He might be struggle with being tempted to be unfaithful, or even cold and unfeeling….

If he has sons, his manner of relating is passed on; imitated and followed, many times for generations…

The same types of symptoms occur in women, when emotional development has been stunted; or bonding issues exist. 

Here is the second key:  Emotional development does not happen in seclusion or isolation.  It happens in community — We were created for relationship — Therefore, we need it in order to be happy, healthy and whole. 

This kind of growth many times cannot happen unless hidden wounds are addressed in a person’s life.  And please, for those of you who have been in Christian circles for a long time, please understand that it doesn’t happen quickly, or overnight.  Rather than a one-time event, where a person comes to change; it is a journey, with one step following another; happening incrementally, and intentionally. 

The first lesson we learn in emotional development, is that we must be willing to be honest; assessing where we live without fear, blame, guilt, shame or denial. 

The second lesson is more difficult. Choosing to trust a safe person; asking them to give us a new set of questions to ask about our lives.  

For more, let me recommend a great read. “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality,” by Pete Scazzaro. 

To close, let me say this:

My friend, Mike likes to post funny things on his Facebook page. Today, his quote came up, “God has already figured your stupidity into His plan.”   At first, I laughed, and then, thought, “It’s a good thing!”  You know, if God had to wait for me to “get it” every time, my life would have more delays than an airport….. He is the only One who knows all the things we don’t know….. and at the end of the day — He is the only one who can heal us!


(c)2010  DG Awakened to Grow.  Duplication without permission prohibited.


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“We caught him!”

I looked up from my laptop, to see my husband’s face shining with excitement. “Come out and see him!” 

So, we walked out to the yard, where, under the trees in a “have-a-heart” trap, was a large, full-grown, vanquished, male raccoon.  It looked up with pleading eyes, frozen in place, watching us as we assessed him.  Now, before I go on with the story, I must give you a little history. 

Context is everything…

Three weeks ago, Bill set the trap.  He used a full can of sardines as bait.  We had tried everything else. In the morning, the trap had yielded a neighborhood cat. Disappointed, we let the pitiful little thing go to its home, feeling guilty for setting the trap in the first place.    The next night, the same, brand new trap had almost given its life as an offering towards the quest… Wonderfully, the raccoon had found the trap, and taken the sardines.  But, in the process, the not-so-little bandit had all but destroyed our trap.  It lay in bent and battered pieces the next morning, a tribute to the raccoon’s cunning. In response, and, as a tribute to his own tenacity, my husband wired it back together with bailing wire, reinforcing the trap door.  “There!” he declared. “The little jerk won’t do that again!”   

Why this raccoon?  Why this focus of energy?

Well, it all began several years ago.  It has become a quest; a mission; a passion, if you will.  Like a knight in search of a grail, my husband has discovered a priority. The raccoons are the enemy from hell; similar to St. George’s dragon, you see. For the protection of our home, they must go….. The quest has enveloped each of our family members in one way or another, at one time or another.  In the course of his quest, we have discovered all sorts of theories, and falsehoods about how to deal with the little breed.  

It all started when our oldest daughter, Rachel, came home from college one year.  We had known there were gaps around the dormers on our roof needing to be repaired; filled in. But, when you are refurbishing a church campus, limited  in finances, and working, there is only so much energy to go around.  So, understandably, the dormers had waited.  

After unpacking her suitcases, Rachel, then 21, pulled the hinged stairway down that leads to our attic. Her attempted task was to put her bags away. After extending the stepladder, she  began the short climb, looking upwards, then down.  She reached down to gather her empty suitcase from the floor, readying herself to swing the bag up into the open access.  In her peripheral vision, she saw a movement.  She almost fell off the ladder with a stifled scream. She looked again towards the access. 

A rather large raccoon was standing on its  haunches, front feet up, teeth bared.  It was hissing and growling.  Apparently, she had invaded its home.

Its home? I had thought it was our home…. 

Rachel came running downstairs. So startled was she, that she forgot to close the access stairs. “Mom! Dad! Did you know there are raccoons in the attic?”  “Mom! How did they get in there?” Thankfully, the raccoon “king” was satisfied that he had defended his domain and had not ventured down the stairway…

Did you ever discover something that suddenly needed attention?  A lot of attention?  Unknown to anyone living in our home, elements of destruction had been working for a long time.  Repairs were extensive and time-consuming; requiring strategy. They were expensive.

It was like the painful discovery of a blindspot; like seeing a need for change. 

Upon inspection, Bill discovered a family of raccoons in the attic.  How long they had been there, we couldn’t tell.  But they had certainly created themselves an environment.  They loved it there..

But so did we…. 

In the process of getting rid of the ones in the attic, a few got away…..causing us to begin a journey. Over the past six years, we have caught and relocated many raccoons; all of which have come from this one little attic family.  (We have also worked to repair the roof….) And, as far as we know, the male Bill caught this morning was the last of them.  

As I stood, considering the little imp in the trap today, I found the inevitable words coming out of my female mouth. “But, he’s so cute, honey! Look at him! The poor thing! How long has he been in there?” 

My husband looked at me in disbelief, his mouth open. “What?” 

“I’m sorry,” I replied. “It’s just hard to believe this is the one.” 

Bill put his arm around me. “He’s the one.”

In my heart I know he is right. The long list of repairs we have done because of this particular raccoon came to my mind.  He has broken the glass in the birdfeeders, and bent the metal suet feeders, rendering them almost unusable.  He has chugged full hummingbird feeders, leaving them empty, with trails behind him. He has chewed. He has dug.  He has destroyed the finch feeders, requiring their replacement.

And he is done.  So am I.  Looking at him, I realized my personal need to face the facts. He might be cute, but he was destructive.  He might be cowering now, but he had wreaked havoc with his siblings in our home.  As a whole, the raccoon race had cost us hundreds of dollars.  My battle?  I found myself wanting Bill to let him go because I momentarily felt sorry for him.  If we did let him go into the neighborhood once again, our frustrations would continue, and the quest would return… 

For that moment, the raccoon was full of regret — of his appetite for sardines, and his destructive patterns.

For that moment, I felt guilty — for impeding his processes, for his capture, for his impending relocation.

But regret and guilt don’t make changes.  Repentance does. Strategies and Intentional Action make changes.  Feelings don’t dictate growth. Character dictates growth.

Context is everything…

It is sad, but I have met many people who are stuck in the perpetual cycles of guilt and regret…. allowing a quest to be revisited because they hope a quick apology will undo years of bad behavior.  They wrongly believe it is their responsibility to maintain the happiness of those they love who carry destructive behaviors….. 

King Solomon said “is is the little foxes that spoil the vines.” And he was right.

Beware of the masked bandits…..


(C)2010 DG Awakened to Grow. Duplication without permission prohibited.


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Personality is a wonderful thing! It provides us with variety, and keeps the spark in our relationships.  How boring life would be if every tree in the orchard were an apple tree!  How tedious our days would be, if everyone were the same.  Our lives would be like those “built overnight” neighborhoods, where all the houses look the same; like they were designed with a cookie-cutter!  It is the differences that keep us discovering — and I for one, need the differening personalities to keep me on a growth pattern!  

Now, if you aren’t familiar with personality profiles, let me help here by explaining a little.  I have to set the story up for you — because this week, I made a discovery of my own.   

Personality profiling is used all over the workplace these days, to help corporations learn about team dynamics.  Profiling tools are used to help workers discover what needs adjustment in their working relationships. Some Human Resource departments use profiling tools, to learn whether an applicant desiring a job would really be a “fit” for that particular job. Police departments create profiles in order to catch criminals…. it’s fascinating stuff. And uncannyingly accurate!

Simply put: there are four basic personality types.  Everyone on the planet carries all four, in varying degrees. And, while some people are similar, each combination is unique; mixing with our individual learning styles, our level of emotional development, etc., to define our personality; our Personhood.  Additionally, most of us utilize different forms of ourselves depending upon the pressures of the environment we find ourselves in…. Short version; one of the main keys to healthy living is choosing to do whatever it takes to heal and grow– The end goal is to become consistently stable, in holding to the same personality in every environment. This is called “congruency”…  although no one comes to it quickly … or perfectly.  

Understand here,  I am talking about Emotional Quotient (which involves inner life; feelings, principles, values and morals) — as opposed to Intelligence Quotient (which involves outer life; facts, cliches, status and task).  Relationships are part of the EQ of life — When relationships are run in IQ, they fail every time…. 

But EQ is hard to grasp; it’s like learning a new language, especially if inner life wasn’t addressed in bonding years. EQ is intangible and relationship based — most of us need help to “get it.”  On the other hand, IQ is easier to get hold of, because it is task oriented and has to to with the tangibles — “just the facts, please.”  As a result, the majority of us live our lives in the IQ levels, avoiding the pain of digging into the EQ, for as long as we can possibly get away with it….

Personality types vary in degrees.  To put it simply — here are the four styles — 1. The Driver; the lion, or choleric…    2. The Inspirer; the otter, or sanguine…. 3. The Steady; the golden retriever, or phlegmatic…..  4. The Conscientous; the beaver, or melancholic….. 

After years of behavioral analysis, mediating conflicts, helping couples decipher “missed moments,” I made a discovery of my own this week.  You know, the “aha” moment, the “synapses” — when the left and right brain connect, and you wonder why you didn’t “see it’ before….

My husband is a “lion” — by that I mean his personality type. He is one of those energetic, determined leader-guys, who enjoys being out in front forging a path. He could cut a path through the jungle with a machete, and not mind the challenges of being the first to get there. His secondary personality type is the “otter.” You know the type; always telling jokes; drawing people in with his stories. When it comes to his learning style, he has this mind that never forgets a name. It has to be a gift. I say that because I have a hard time with names. I remember faces, and then my mind runs through the alphabet — “Was it an A name? B?” 

At one point, I thought I could improve my mind-remembering skill-level; I didn’t realize the problem was part of my genetics. Because my relationships with people are important to me, I tried a course in memory-association. This particular course was excellent — the problem was the student…. Here was the proposed process: Think of a picture that reminds you of the item (or person) you want to remember.  Give the picture a name that relates to their name, or a feature of their person.  Well, the course promises that the next time you see the person, you will remember the association, etc. Hence, success.

I must have been missing that day — that part of my IQ level wasn’t developed yet…..  A lady came to visit us.  In the midst of a sea of faces, I learned her name; “Mrs. Stack.”  She was a a rather large woman, with short, blonde, straight hair.  So, in my mind, for some reason, I pictured a haystack. Go figure. Did it work, you ask?  Well, the next time I saw her, the part of recalling the image worked. The yellow haystack showed up in my mind; but so did self-doubt.  I called her “Mrs. Needle.” 

You’re smiling. I can’t help it. My mind just goes blank.

My husband is a lion. Like Aslan, in the Chronicles of Narnia, he isn’t a tame lion, but he’s kind…. 

Me? I’m a “golden retriever,” with a little “beaver” thrown in for good measure. I’m the team player who doesn’t like to be alone; who dislikes sudden changes; is mercy-motivated and is happy to help administrate the details. My kids give me a hard time when I’m writing on the laptop too long.   “Come out and play,” they say. Between the two of us, Bill and I have a combination of all four styles in our marriage — which, theoretically, works really great when all inner conflicts have been resolved.  It gives us a complete offering of all the styles… Great for child-rearing, and problem solving.

The “aha,” you ask?  It was this week. I had a picture go through my head… had to be God-breathed.  It made me laugh, actually. Picture this: A golden retriever with a lion’s mane tied around its head. Silly? Perhaps. Think about this… Golden retrievers and lions are the same color, but they are not the same.  They will never be the same. Lions roar and establish territory. Retrievers bark and couldn’t care less about territory. Lions can walk ahead, and work alone. Retrievers need a pack, or companionship. 

I realized this week that for one reason or another, I had placed undue expectations on my God-given personality.  As a result, I had been struggling with guilt when I found myself unable to follow through with those unspoken expectations.  No one put it on me — I just absorbed it over time. When or how I picked it up, I’ll never know.  I think it must have happened gradually — an incremental “weighing down” if you will. Somehow, I thought I had to be more “lion-ly” in my day-to-day life….  I felt guilty for my emotional genetics, something God never intended. Finally, when it surfaced, my hubby and I worked through it.  “I’m so tired,” I told him. “Something has to give.”  Then, came the vulnerable question. “What do you think?”

“I didn’t know you were carrying all that. I don’t want that for you,”  he said. “Let’s fix it.”  Did I tell you he was a kind lion — and my best friend?

Sometimes, without realizing it, we try to change ourselves, denying who we were created to become. Sometimes, we decide to dislike the personality God gave us because we want to gain greater acceptance (we think) or wider approval (we hope).  Sometimes, we allow circumstances and relationships to weigh us down, changing us for survival.  Sometimes, we just slam the door and refuse to think about it.

But it’s part of our purpose on the planet — this discovering of design and purpose. God’s intention is to strengthen our inner selves, so that we live our lives in truth, adhering to His created purpose.  How long has it been since you asked Him who He wants you to be?

He’s got a plan, you know. And it’s a good one — with a future and a hope.  But it might involve a little change….

(C) 2010 DG — Awakened to Grow.  Duplication without permission prohibited.




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