Goal: To become aware of and competent with a process of growing constructive thoughts and behaviors consistently.
There are two insights I’d like to convey to you about growing wisdom (there are actually more, but I’ll condense it to two!).
First, growing wisdom is much like the gardening experiences you may have had in your own backyard garden. Although my wife is the gardener in the family, I’ve learned from her and others that growing edifying vegetables is a lot simpler than it looks, but it does take hard work and consistent activity to plant seeds in the soil that will eventually be harvested and enjoyed at the dining room table.
The takeaway here is that I’d love for you to identify and focus on the seed or the “value or virtue” that you wish to plant, water, nurture, protect and grow (i.e., growing Patience, Honesty, Empathy, Compassion, etc. in this season of your life), and then practice the behavior over and over, as if you were planting seeds in the “soil of your head and heart” every 6 – 9 inches. Consistently practicing values that make sense to you ensures new neural connections and competency will occur. Why? Remember, Dr. Dan Siegal reminds us that the “cells that fire together will eventually wire together,” and if you plant the thought and harvest the behavior that a specific life situation warrants, you’ll get good at growing wise behavior especially when a life situation arises that warrants a wise response.
The second insight I’d like to leave with you in your effort to grow wisdom is to anticipate and expect some form of internal struggle, resistance or uncertainty in your process of growing wise behavior. Why am I saying this? Well, think about what occurs when the seed is planted deeply in the soil; it not only has to break through its own “seed coat,” but then the embryonic taproot struggles downward against the soil to find water, just as the embryonic leaf struggles upward against the soil to find sunlight (interesting that these two basic components for growth are not “man-made!”). Uncertainty and doubt may arise when we don’t see growth immediately, and we may lose heart that anything worthwhile will be developed and or eventually grown or harvested. Let me remind you that God does His best work in the dark(ness) of your soil, your heart, especially in the deepest places in your heart which contain the greatest amount of suffering (Matthew 13:9; Isaiah 61:1). Also, take heart that geology reminds us that the structure and composition of the soil at the valley floor provides the opportunity for the most fertile growth. In the same way, your growth during any “season of suffering” may provide you and others with the sweetest and most mature “fruitfulness” borne from your struggle or suffering life experiences.Keep these thoughts in mind as you focus on growing and living by wise behaviors that benefit you and others in your life.
Suggested Activity: Live in consultation with God and others: Seek counsel from a spiritual mentor or someone you trust who provides valuable insight and information regarding behaviors you’ll want to grow in your life. Take in the “suggested seeds,” then practice the behavior consistently to produce good and capable outcomes in your interactions with others.
Skill to Develop: The ability to consistently grow and deliver the appropriate behavior that your life situation deserves, and to feel encouraged about your ability to become resilient beyond challenging life circumstances.
Thanks for reading this excerpt from Cultivating Love: Wisdom for Life. As time permits, please visit the other blogs written by Dr. Ken McGill: Daily Bread for Life and “3 – 2 – 5 – 4 – 24″ for additional information that could be helpful.
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