Why Spiritual and Personal Growth Takes So Long
And How to Grow as Fast as Possible
I used to wonder why growth and transformation, outside of quick changes at conversion, took so long. After all, Jesus often did instant or near instant miracles all the time.
But He did not change everything in a person’s life in a few seconds or minutes. Even His closest followers were still growing and experiencing transformation decades after Jesus ascended into heaven.
Jesus did not perfect them all at once. He has set up this world so that much spiritual and personal growth is gradual, like a seed growing into a tall tree.
Our Amazingly Complex Minds
The Bible repeatedly emphasizes that after conversion, one of the MAJOR keys to transformation is the “renewing of our minds.” (Romans 12:2)
The more we get our thinking “updated, renovated, renewed” to think like God thinks, the more we experience powerful and lasting growth.
But our minds are incredibly complex.
Did you know
- There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on earth.
- There are more neural-connections in our brain than there are stars in the universe.
It is really hard for me to imagine how many grains of sand there are on one beach, let alone all the other beaches and deserts on our planet. So it’s even more mind-boggling to try to comprehend there are more stars than that in our universe.
And it’s even harder to comprehend that my brain has more synapses than the number of stars. AMAZING!
Billions and trillions of connections and chemical and electrical activities are happening inside our head every single day. Those “thoughts” and “feelings” are run through the neural pathways in our brains; every day, throughout the day.
Change Your Mind, Change Your Life
Research shows that our thoughts travel through brain connections, kind of like living electrical wires. And those pathways can be shrunk, enlarged, or even merge to form new thought pathways.
When that happens, our behaviors change.
Dr. Caroline Leaf is a strong Christian who has decades of experience in the areas of brain study and therapy writes, “Research shows that 75 to 98 percent of mental, physical, and behavioral illness comes from one’s thought life. This staggering and eye-opening statistic means only 2 to 25 percent of mental and physical illnesses come from the environment.”
She continues, “Our thoughts produce words and behaviors, which in turn stimulate more thinking and choices that build more thoughts in an endless cycle.” How we think and what we think about sets up cycles that turn into habits and behaviors which in turn determine how we live.
This is So Encouraging
If we change our thinking, we can literally change our lives. And the really great news is:
WE CAN CHANGE OUR THINKING!
Thought patterns do not have to be permanent. If you’re “naturally” doubtful, you can become habitually faith-filled. If you’re easily disorganized, you can become more organized.
If you easily get discouraged, you can change your mind so that you become easily encouraged.
Time + Practices = Change
I’ll go deeper into this in future articles, but as a starting point, remember that little growth formula:
- Time: research shows that on average it takes 63 days for permanent changes to take place in our brain. Some new habits can be formed quicker than that, some take longer, but on average it takes 63 days to make a permanent change in our thinking.
Most of us give up in less than 2 weeks, so if you stick with it for the full two months you are going to see much greater positive changes than over 80% of the population.
Obviously time alone doesn’t change us, but simple, biblical, research-backed practices combined with time DOES create lasting growth.
2. Practices: Dr. Leaf also said that one of the greatest insights gained in recent brain research is, “Our thoughts change our brain.”
Through practicing the right thoughts consistently, we can permanently change our physical brain so that our behavior changes.
The writers of the Bible didn’t have today’s research, but they did have God’s revelation. Our Creator knows how we operate (since He made us). The Bible clearly teaches this; renew your mind, transform your life.
You can do that through consistently taking small steps (practices) that are proven to produce lasting mind change.
More on that in the article “5 Mind-Changing Practices”.
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