I remember when my birthday rolled around as a child, I used to get clothing that was a little too big. That’s so I could “grow into it.” So there was a time when my clothes were too big, then they fit, and then they were too small. Mathematically, that’s only a one-third satisfaction rate! And then there was the birthday spanking …
The origin of the birthday spanking is based on the slap on the bottom that most infants receive on the day they were born. Adding an extra slap “to grow on” is meant to be an expression of good luck for another year of healthy growth. While I may question the political correctness of this tradition today, I can say it was done in fun with me in my childhood. Yet, how much better it could have been if my incentive for taking my next breath could have been motivated by something other than a slap on the rear!
Seriously though, we are always growing, even if our bodies have reached the point of adulthood. In this growth process, it’s good to stop and take stock of the progress we’ve made, and to do so at least on an annual basis. Many people do this for the New Year, others on their birthday, or when any life-changing event occurs.
Looking back, we can see decisions we’ve made and the impetus for each. Sometimes, the impetus feels like a swat on the rear … but it doesn’t have to be hindsight (no pun intended) that gives us impetus to grow. How much more fun it is to grow because we have a vision to grow into!
A vision is like having a brochure of the destination of your dreams, and everyone needs a vision in order to grow. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Many of us have big visions and many of us aren’t even aware we have a vision, but all people do, even if it is a negative one. When we work in concert with the power of the spiritual mind to create through imagination, faith and vision, anything can be achieved. How to do this in an optimized fashion is key, so here are some “keys” to doing this with grace and effectiveness.
Keys for Visioning
- Open your mind to receive Spirit’s vision for you. Ask … and ask some more. I have found when I sincerely ask about anything, the answers come and they come at the right time in a way I “get it.” When I try to create a vision from my head, it loses its attraction for me, feels like work rather than creative play, and falls short of desired fulfillment. Asking for Spirit’s vision is like asking for the best birthday present ever! How great to know it is Spirit’s pleasure to fulfill that request.
- If your vision does not excite you, it is not your vision. Perhaps it is someone else’s vision for you, and not your own. Or it may be you have come up with a plan … not a vision. Plans are action steps to achieve a goal, sometimes based on a vision, but necessarily born from it. If you are not excited, challenged, surprised and engaged with your life, your vision is most likely too small and/or its origin is suspect. Release it and go back to step one.
- If you do not believe in your vision, it may be too big. When visions are too big, it’s easy to feel defeated without ever taking the first step. Keep it simple. It’s okay to have a big vision, so if you do, break it down into simple components, some of which can be achieved in the foreseeable future, and be prepared to seize opportunities as they arise.
The above steps are good for individuals, and they are true for communities as well. As spiritual leaders of ministries, we are CEOs … “Chief Envisioning Officers” … and any vision affecting the community must be a shared vision … one that is created with the people, believed by the people, inspiring to the people, and one that will stretch and grow the people.
It is a privilege to be the caretaker of a spiritual community and Spirit’s gift of vision, and it absolutely requires servant leadership. In Spiral Dynamics, an axiom for leadership is, if leaders get too far ahead of the meme in which most of the people live, there will be rebellion. Nurture, teach, support, lead, but above all, put communion with God first and be willing to alter strategies, if necessary, because a vision is not a static thing and its fulfillment not always the expected path. The goal is progress for all, and not necessarily all at once.
The vision is also organic and will change as you and your community change. When you have a vision from Spirit, you can bet you’ll grow but you don’t always know how you will grow, so the most important thing is to hold the essence of the vision in your heart and know the next indicated step will make itself known. An opportunity will arise, so be prepared to seize it in order to move forward with the process. For me, this has been the single, most important practice in my life. When something lives in my heart, the manifestation finds me in due time, so I do my best to follow my guidance, let go, and let God make the arrangements.
So, back to birthdays. If today is the first day of the rest of your life, then it’s your birthday! You may look back and see the hallmarks of growth over the years. You may see the many roles you’ve played and the metaphorical clothes you’ve grown into and then outgrown. Perhaps you can even smile at the swats on your rear that motivated you forward through some of those years.
But if this is the first day of the rest of your life, rather than being prodded into spiritual growth from a spanking-induced deep breath, why not breathe with Spirit a new vision into your new life? How would that be for “one to grow on”?
What do you want for your birthday? What do you really want? What do you really, really want? When you ask Spirit with an open mind and heart, you will receive.—It may seem a little big at first, but you will grow and it will always be a guaranteed fit for your life.