I recently read about a study done by Carol Dweck in which she describes two types of mindsets: fixed and growth. Essentially, a person with a fixed mindset believes that they cannot change certain traits about themselves whereas someone who has a growth mindset believes that growth or transformation can occur with determination and hard work. The article made me think about how trusting and adjusting go hand in hand. For someone with a fixed mindset, he/she does not trust in their own ability to change their behavior through action. However, someone with a growth mindset always sees an opportunity for improvement. We cannot have change without change. We must adjust! But is that all we need? To just change our behavior?
It is important to have a growth mindset when it comes to our faith and trust in God. We can grow in our faith and our trust of Him. However, faith without action is dead. James 2:17 says it plainly, “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”
This concept has manifested itself in many ways over the course of my faith journey. For years, whether it be in regard to my recovery from my eating disorder, my handling of stressful situations in my family, or day to day anxiety, I used to get so frustrated with myself. Many times I would tell myself, “Things are going to be different now.” And sometimes they would be-for a time. Inevitably, an unexpected situation would occur and BOOM– I was right back to starving, or crying, or panicking. The problem? Bottom line- I was trying to adjust without the trust part.
Oh, I may have thought I was trusting God in a circumstance. I would read His Word, pray fervently, and say, “I trust you, Lord. Please change my body, change my family, change (insert whatever was bothering me at the time.)” But I would continue to fret, worry, get angry, or have full blown panic attacks or temper tantrums (yes, I did.). Like Paul, I would continue saying, “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” My mindset was fixed on the action instead of the purpose of it.
In all areas of my life, if I want to have a growth mindset and change my behaviors and attitudes, I need to have a fixed mind. I need to fix my mind not on my circumstances, but on Christ!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
Change is hard. Change is also impossible if we think that we can do it on our own- or that we can just adjust our behavior without adjusting our heart. There are many opportunities to trust God in our every day lives. But if we are not aware of His presence, His provision, His promises, or His providence, we cannot recognize Him as trustworthy. And, if we are not able to trust, our attempts to adjust will be short-lived. For me, learning to trust God was not a one time thing. I practice trust in God. This means that, while I am not perfect at it, I continue to proclaim His trustworthiness. I keep going back to what I know about God from His Word and His previous presence in my life. My reactions to my life circumstances, my coping skills, and my responses to others can all adjust, but my heart and mind stays fixed on the truth that God is trustworthy. I may get scared, or angry, or anxious, but I do not have to stay that way because I am fixed in His arms. God is my refuge, and strength, and peace.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.