Reference Changes that Heal by Dr. Henry Cloud
Anything valuable takes time to achieve. It either takes a lot of time to earn the money to buy it, or it takes a lot of time to finally accomplish the goal. This is why not everyone writes a book or completes an Ironman or earns a Ph.D. People often prefer short cuts. It’s only human to look for an easy way out when faced with hard work.
But just because you want to take the easy way out, does not mean you should. Especially with goals for which putting in the time and effort is absolutely necessary– such as recovery from unhealthy or destructive behavior.
Tools for Growth
This is why, in the parable of the four soils in Matthew 13, one is of a plant that sprang up quickly. But why did it spring up quickly? Because it did not take the time to grow roots. It did not build a foundation to secure itself for its journey of growth. And what happened? “When the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.” (Matt. 13:5-6 NKJV)
In his book “Changes that Heal,” Dr. Henry Cloud mentions clients who come to his practice looking for a quick-fix. He tries to help them, but it is difficult to convince people of what they do not want to hear. He sometimes hears from them again years down the road asking for help again, because the short-cut treatment they have attempted has not yielded lasting results. What people who truly want to recovery need to realize is this– the problems you bring into counseling most likely developed and ingrained themselves over a period of years. Do you honestly think you can correct that kind of habit in a matter of weeks?
In his book, “Outliers,” journalist Malcolm Gladwell discusses the 10,000 hours principle. His research suggests that it takes, on average, 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery of a skill. That is why people often do not have lasting music careers after winning American Idol– they just haven’t put in the legwork.
Preparing for Growth
So how do you prepare for the process of growth?
- Accept that it will take time
Make sure you can commit to regular counseling sessions or group meetings or whatever structure you’re applying to your life over a span of time. Do not allow yourself to become discouraged when it takes longer than you might think, or when you do not feel a different right away.
- Accept that you will have growth spurts and setbacks
When you’ve been doing something a certain way for a very long time, it’s difficult to break the habit. You’ve conditioned yourself to behave certain ways in certain situations. You cannot expect to be able to permanently change that immediately. Take the example of someone with an eating disorder. They’re not going to be able to suddenly look at a bacon cheeseburger, and not feel guilty for wanting to take a bite. Quieting that negative self-talk is going to take a while.
As Ecclesiastes reminds us, life is made up of seasons. Some are more stressful than others, which may tempt you to fall back into old, more comfortable behaviors. Sometimes you will. That is when you need to remind yourself that your journey isn’t over just because you slipped a bit. You can make up that ground, and continue moving forward.
Christian Counseling for Practicing Patience
If you want to get over an unhealthy or destructive habit, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to consult a professional Christian counselor. They will provide the structure needed to keep you accountable during your recovery journey, and help encourage you during the inevitable rough spells and slip-ups. Remember, significant change doesn’t happen overnight. You can only achieve what you are capable of doing. As Paul told the Corinthians, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it.” (I Cor. 3:1-2 NKJV )
“Fall Foliage,” courtesy of marabu, ABSFreePic.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Pumpkins,” courtesy of Paul Brennan little paul, PublicDomainPictures.net