I flipped through the well-worn, familiar pages of an old journal I dug up. Mesmerized, I read page after page of my scribbled thoughts and prayers:
I have so much to do. Please help me concentrate.
Is my dream of moving to Michigan my own, or is it from You?
Does this boy like me? My heart is a little confused.
Please show me what is next. Where am I supposed to go?
My own words felt like a distant memory, almost like they were written by someone else entirely.
Those times and accompanying emotions were all real, but now seemed so insignificant. As I kept reading, I realized how much I had changed. You don’t typically see growth while you’re in the midst of it.
Do you know the feeling of not wanting to be in a place you’re “planted”?
I picked up my journal again and was taken back to a particular season: working full-time, finishing school online, trying to cook and clean for myself and be independent. I was mentally in a place of resistance. You know that sweet “bloom where you’re planted” phrase often painted on a decorated sign? People kept reminding me of that saying, and I would wish I had an actual sign to chuck across the room. I did not want to be where I was, and I was adamant that I was certainly not planted there.
I did, in fact, stay there from January to December, and it turned out to be a year of unexpected joy. My journal from this period is full of sermon notes and Bible study thoughts. Of scrawlings of gratitude and evidence of God’s grace. Of moments when I cried out to the Lord in uncertainty, and He whispered back that He was always before me and I would not be shaken (Ps. 16:8).
My November 9 journal entry from that year reads: I am sad to leave here.
As you live where God calls you, you grow.
That place worms its way into your heart, while at the same time, you leave a piece of your heart in that place. That is growth.
The most important kind of growth happens in Christ as you “walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith” (Col. 2:6–7).
My journal documents who I was before, who I was becoming, and how the Lord grew me deeper in Him and in each place He has taken me.
When God directs our steps to new places, looking back allows us to praise Him for the past seasons and the new ones. Most importantly, remembering reminds us of God’s goodness and faithfulness.
I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands. (Ps. 143:5)
God’s faithfulness gives new light to past seasons. In entering a new period, we gain a perspective that wasn’t possible in the midst of the old one. It also frames how we see our present moments.
This is why I love flying. As soon as the plane takes off, I press my nose to the window and watch as cars become slow-moving dots. The endless corn fields fade into squares of land for miles. Everything that seemed so big and loud instantly looks miniscule from the air. My perspective changes.
When we look back on where we’ve been, we learn from our mistakes. We praise God for His answered prayers (and sometimes in my case, prayers I’m glad He didn’t answer the way I wanted). We give glory to Him for the ways He has healed, redeemed, and restored us.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Ps. 103:1–5)
Remembering reminds us of who God is and who we are in Him.
I found this in my journal, written in 2017 after visiting my college town. I recounted how the weekend refreshed my soul: Isn’t it funny how there are places we can come back to that remind us who we are?
Wherever you are right now matters in your story. Past seasons led to where you are now. How do you look back on where God has brought you? Maybe it is through journaling, scrapbooking, or social media posts. I’d love to hear the ways you keep track of how God is growing you.
Sometimes God grows us in unexpected places. Look for the next post about surprising growth that can happen in your desert season.