You are either growing, or dying


“You are either growing, or you are dying Malinda”
The words hit me smack in the face.  They were well-intentioned, and not meaning to sting.  They came from a trusted friend  who had my best interest at heart. But it hurt none-the-less.

I realized that I had been dying.

It was not a death of a terminal disease, or a sudden attack on my body, but a slow and almost undetectable death of my heart.
I had forgotten what it was to grow.  Intellectually.  Relationally.  Professionally.
I had not intended to go down that path.  It started in such sneaky ways: I had a baby.  Then, less than 2 years later, I had another one.  Somewhere between mid-night feedings, diapers and laundry I lost sight of what else was in my heart.  It’s like my kids came along, got greedy and just took the whole thing.
Not even my husband had a say in the matter.  They didn’t leave him much either.  Now, they are adorable and so worthy of my love, but I was put here on this earth for more than just mothering (yes, I said it!)
Those words about growing or dying put me on quite the adventure.  And I’ve been wrestling, enjoying and hating the rediscovery process.  Its been interesting to ask myself what I wanted to “grow towards”.
It’s been a journey.   And along the way I have learned some wonderful truths:
Sometimes things need to die, in order for something else to live.  This one is especially fresh as I have just walked it in the past year.
When we relocated to Southern California, it was because my husband had taken a new job.  Exciting for him, exciting for our family (hello sunshine, palm trees and beaches!)  But it was also painful for me because it meant that I was leaving behind a career, friendships and networks that I had worked long and hard to establish.  It meant that in order to him to grow, I had to let something else die.
Sometimes you can’t control the death.  Sometimes we are dying and it’s not by choice.  Sometimes we are dealt a bad hand: the boss overlooks you, a spouse is unfaithful, your kid makes a poor decision, your friend betrays you.  “Death” in those situations is not a choice.  It’s unfortunate.  But just because there is death surrounding us, doesn’t mean we lay down and concede to letting it overtake us.
Sometimes the growing isn’t healthy.  Just because your career is exploding, and there is a surplus of money doesn’t mean that we are happy, satisfied and loving life.  (Let’s look at the lives of the rich and famous).  If you’re at the top of your ladder, but you can’t see your family next to you, you’ve got a problem.  Sometimes the things that we are excited about push aside the things that really matter.  (You can read more about saying YES to the things that matter here.) Often growth is incremental.  Ask any farmer.  It’s water, sun, fertilization.  It must be constant care: pruning, watching, waiting and paying close attention.  It also means being hands off enough to not stifle growth or harvest too early.
Growth is contagious.  So is death.  Look carefully at who surrounds you.  Are they growing?  Are they moving?  Are they chasing their dreams?  When you are with them, do they make you want to go out and do something great?  Or are they sitting still. Laying down.  Already succumbing to slowly dying heart.
[Tweet “It’s time to choose life.  Because you can’t grow and die at the same time.”]
It is a choice.  And choosing to grow means W-O-R-K.  Determination.  Courage.  It’s tough.  But it’s worth it.
Are you growing, or dying?