The process of growth is about developing our internal nature. It is a process that is challenging yet fulfilling if we do not give up. If we make the necessary effort to reach a new level, we are excited and full of life.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow described the motivation for growth:
Growth takes place when the next step forward is subjectively more delightful, more joyous, more intrinsically satisfying than the previous gratification which we have become familiar and even bored.
‘Show Up’ and Take a Step Forward
We want internal peace as well as a dynamic life. However, if we don’t pay attention to the growth of our heart we can easily live a mundane life or worse; a miserable existence! On the other hand, growth involves facing our inadequacies, mistakes, and obstacles. We each make the decision daily whether to grow our hearts or stand back and escape the challenge.
In his book, Pivotal Moments, inspirational leader, Nick Williams, says: “This is one of my keys to happiness, success, and fulfillment: to ‘show up’ and take a step forward before I feel ready, and to keep unfurling my wings as I go.”
A Change of Heart
In my younger years, I was on a fundraising team. Our focus was to grow our hearts toward the people whom we were humbly asking for donations. Sometimes I could really get into it but there were also, what felt like, endless periods of being held with a hollow heart. During the empty times, my spirit felt like it was sloshing through snow with no end in sight. It took every ounce of energy to put one foot in front of the other. Waves of people continued to say no to my request for donations like the cold and sharp gusts of blowing snow. My heart yearned for just a bit of warm sun or a glimpse of clear skies. I could have easily given up on different occasions and escaped the situation somehow. The reason I didn’t was because I knew I needed to grow my heart.
At one particularly difficult period, I was fundraising at the Chicago Airport. The rules of the airport only allowed us to fundraise during certain hours. After completing the time slot, while waiting for a ride home, I looked up from reading a book and saw an Asian lady that reminded me of Mrs. Moon. I thought to myself, “It would be so nice to see Rev. and Mrs. Moon…” (They are my inspiration and living example of heartfelt sacrifice and total giving for the sake of others.)
I put my book away and called about my ride. I found out Father and Mother Moon had a layover in Chicago and they were going to be catching their flight soon. Without hesitation I ran to the monitors to see what gate they’d be leaving from. (In those days, you didn’t have to have a ticket to go past security to the gates.) I did not see anyone I knew at the gate and since they were on the final boarding call, I assumed I missed seeing them. However, as I was walking away, I saw Father Moon followed by Mother Moon and a couple other people in their party. Only the last person I passed noticed me. By then, the rest were rushing up the indoor ramp to the plane. That last person called out, “Father, there’s a fundraiser.” Father and Mother Moon both came down and met me in the middle of the ramp. Father told Mother something in her ear and she reached in her purse and handed me a few bills. ($33) Then, they made their way back up to board the plane but they both turned around three times to wave again. We communicated through heart without any words spoken. Father and Mother beamed compassion and love to me and my response was a natural "I'm totally fine!" I felt their desire to come back to visit soon. I knew they knew I had been struggling but I didn’t want them to worry. It was if my spirit was raptured and placed in the heavenly realm of heart. Father and Mother Moon did in fact come to visit our group within the next couple of weeks. My self-consumed suffering seemed to have just vanished and life was bright and fulfilling. Giving of myself was a joy and an honor. Meeting Father and Mother Moon allowed me to put my suffering in perspective to see the bigger scheme of things. Somehow, I was filled with gratitude and a can-do attitude.
This is an example of when the change of heart was clear and quick. Sometimes this can happen in such a dramatic way but usually our growth is gradual like the morning sunrise. Our hearts can grow in a spiraling upward fashion. If we make the effort, our highs can get higher and our lows are a little higher causing a gradual ascension.
The Process of Growth and Maturity
To change from a conflicting to a peaceful heart often only takes a shift in mindset. Usually it’s from a self-centered outlook to a bigger picture and more giving perspective. We do have personal desires that need to be satisfied. The problem lies when those thoughts blind us to higher or greater purposes. The ideal is when each person has a heart for others. If that is the case, each person will also be cared for. During our process of growth, one red flag for us is that we’re consumed with our own desires, view point, or need to change the other. The key word here is “consumed” because there’s nothing inherently wrong with desires, view points, or helping to change others. It’s when our heart is focused on ourselves at the expense of others.
Another important aspect of the period of growth is the time to mature as individuals. There is a time for intimate sexual relationships but not until individuals have matured in the sense of taking responsibility for personal actions and deepening their hearts to the level where they are able to think about and live for the sake of others. In other words, individuals should approach intimate sexual relationships only when they are able to make a commitment of love toward the other person. True sexual freedom is not simply satisfying sexual urges but rather having the foundation of abstinence before marriage and fidelity in marriage. This is one of our responsibilities to master to experience true inner peace and freedom.
I realize this view is not a popular belief in our present culture. I believe our love as husband and wife should reflect the love of our Heavenly Parent: eternal, unchanging, absolute, and unique. There is a good explanation of this concept in the book; More than Marriage: Love as God Intended by Heather Thalheimer. If I’m in love, I want it to last forever. I’m proud that my husband is my first love. Our commitment to each other is unchanging. We don’t want our love to “change with the seasons or dry up when it meets difficulty.” We want our spouse to love us with their whole heart, mind, spirit, and body and we strive to honor that in return. We endeavor to make our marriage an endearing expression of Gods ideal of love. As Heather Thalheimer says in her book, “Every couple is unique and infinitely valuable.”
How do you act or think when you’re trying to change your heart?
What’s you most memorable experience of growth?
What experience have you had watching another person grow?
In what ways do you want to mature?
How do you change your mindset?
What are your views on responsibility and freedom?
What are your beliefs about God and/or love?
Maslow, A.H. Towards a Psychology of Being. 1999. (3rd ed.). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons. p. 53
Williams, Nick. Pivotal Moments, Part 1, Chapter 10. The day I discovered what I was born to do. 1987. p. 42