The Ways We Convince Ourselves to Stay Exactly Where We Are
I am a strategic thinker. I love to find the shortest, most effective way to do a task. I will even take extra time just to think about what and how I am going to do a certain task. However, when it comes to personal growth, I have discovered there is no strategic way to make personal growth short and easy. When we come face to face with our own personal deficits, we have a few chooses to make: You can face the difficult task ahead with grace, patience, and humility or you can take the “easy way out”. Most people know what this means: something that takes very little effort on our part to accomplish or simply to stay exactly where you are and not choose to grow. Though when it comes to our personal growth, I would like to define the “easy way out” as such:
The easy way out is the permission slip we write ourselves to excuse us from any activity that would take us out of our comfort zones and into a place where we are challenged to grow.
These permission slips are more than just poor excuses they hold some legitimate weight behind them. If you are indeed injured, you get a permission slip to be excused from PE for the week. However, can we say that if you have been emotionally wounded by the church, you get a permission slip to be excused from engaging Christian community altogether? And yet this happens all the time. Our woundedness no longer becomes something to be healed but something to be protected, and by this, we take the easy way out of healing and stick to what we know to be true. And without us even knowing we stunt our growth by resolving ourselves to the path we have taken time and time again instead of venturing into the unknown that would call forth a bravery and trust in something greater than ourselves.
Let us examine the ways the ways we convince ourselves to take the easy way out of growth and choose to stay where we are.
I will fail – The Message of Shame
We often avoid the unknown because we are scared out of our wits of failing. We convince ourselves that the road more traveled is safe and yet we carry around an identity of failure that makes us shrink back from actually living.
It will hurt – Pain Avoidance
Our comfort reigns supreme in this way. We would rather forfeit a costly banquet that could bring deeper fulfillment and settle for the drive-through hamburger of familiarity. The cost of comfort is less than the cost of change, so we stay exactly where we are.
It won’t work – Living For Control
If we can’t control the outcome, why bother?! We have grown so accustomed to our ability to control things in our life; we simply don’t see the reason to risk something different.
All of these ways we convince ourselves have one thing in common: fear. Now fear can be a good thing at times. It is our alert system to let us know when we are in danger. However, fear can also be our worst enemy, feeding our heads with lies that tell us we aren’t worth the risk and that we will fail. When we choose to listen to fear in this sense, we begin to develop the skill of permission slip writing. We become superb at convincing ourselves to stay exactly where we are and not risk having to forgive someone who hurt you or move on from loss or change jobs or draw boundaries with your children. We write these permission slips all the time, and at times we are completely unaware that we are doing it. When we come face to face with hardship, our own brokenness, and the uncertainty of the future, there is a choice we have to make: We can either take “the easy way out” or
“the hard way in.”
The hard way in is the road less traveled; The path in which we can only see so far as our own feet at times. It takes more effort, courage, and resilience to travel along its uneven grounding, and yet we soon find that we are growing stronger, wiser, and empathic. So let me give you a new definition:
The “hard way in” is the permission slip we write ourselves that enables us to participate in any activity that will cause us to grow more connected, brave, and loving.
It’s hard to be more loving because we have to be more forgiving at the same time! It’s hard to choose connection over disconnection because it call us to be vulnerable. So I want to convince you that the “hard way in” is the only way because it’s the only way to love. “Pick up your cross and follow me,” Jesus said. Our control of the future is an illusion. We can’t love with ease without being entirely selfish. And we can’t shrink back from the life God gave us out of fear. We can only choose to step out into the unknown and let our story unfold trusting that God is with us every step of the way.
Which way will you choose today?