Spiritual Growth

EP 7 What is Killing your Spiritual Growth?

June 22, 2021

One this week’s Episode Katie and I will be talking about Spiritual Growth and the obstacles that many of us have to overcome as we grow in our relationship with Christ

Mary Ann (00:33):

Welcome back to this week’s episode of the renewal session today I have on a special guest, Katie, my daughter. Hi Kate. Hi. Okay. So tell everybody what you were doing all of like five minutes ago.

Katie (00:50):

Um, I was walking through home goods, um, and now I’m in the home goods parking lot on zoom

Mary Ann (00:57):

To home goods for,

Katie (01:00):

I need a little pans for my Oster toaster. I only have one pan and it’s just not enough, I need more pans.

Mary Ann (01:08):

So why home goods? Um, go to Walmart, you know, like that’s the thing.

Katie (01:18):

Yeah, no. So I just, I feel like Disney world to me. I love home goods. Um, so it’s just my go-to anytime I needed to zone out and walk around the store and yeah, it’s a good time. So

Mary Ann (01:31):

I, sorry that I interrupted your zoning out to talk about this very heavy subject and I should warn you that I gave her all of five minutes because I wanted this to be a real conversation, not just a pre thought out conversation. So I gave Katie two choices. The first one was seven rules of life. And the second one was what is killing your spiritual growth. And as she was pondering, which one she wanted to do, I quickly informed her that she would be doing the, what is killing your spiritual growth. Katie, what was your reply? When I said, Hey, this is what we’re going to talk about.

Katie (02:14):

Oh, great. We’re picking the hard one.

Mary Ann (02:18):

I think you also asked me off, off recording. Are we talking about like my spirit or my religious growth? Why did you delineate between those two things?

Katie (02:33):

Well, because I think, you know, growing up in the church, your spirit is entwined with your religion. And I, I guess my question about that was like, are we talking about my spiritual growth in the sense of like how I’m relating to God and the things that he’s revealing to me? Or are we talking about the things that like my soul is needing to grow towards? I guess that was my question.

Mary Ann (03:02):

Yeah. So why are those two things different for you?

Katie (03:05):

I don’t know. I think it’s just a way of categorizing things. I like little categories, you know? So when I think spiritual growth, I think, are you doing Bible study? Are you going to church? Are you praying? Are you finding people that are like Jesus to put in your life? You know, whereas like my soul wants to have chickens. What, like my, like my soul wants to be the kind of person that owns chickens and has a big garden. And like, how am I nurturing that side of myself? If that makes sense. Like, I don’t, I don’t think of chickens in relationship to Jesus.

Mary Ann (03:44):

It gets curve ball. You said my soul wants chickens.

Katie (03:51):

Know it was the first, it was the first thing that came to my mind, but it’s true. Like, I, my soul currently is not, you know, being, I’m not nurturing it the way that I feel like I should be. Whereas like, I feel like spiritually well, religiously and faithfully, I am doing a decent job about like connecting with God and all of that stuff. But I just, that’s why I was asking, are we talking about my relationship with the Lord or are we talking about me promoting yeah. Promoting my wild side, I guess that I’ll check it. So

Mary Ann (04:26):

Normally I would be able to create some kind of segue where those two things would go together. Like you can do the both and, and maybe even your desire for chickens is a God given desire. Right? So it seems like a little bit of a stretch, but I do believe that God puts in us unique, unique desires and unique things that we’re drawn to so that we can have a fulfilled life that glorifies him and how we care for the earth in his creation. And perhaps on your soul, there is this desire for a more, um, creation type of focus, right? Whether it be, um, the land or the animals or any, any type of elemental kind of thing. Right. So, but we’re going to put that aside. We probably will come back to it, but what do you think it is that helps your spiritual growth?

Katie (05:31):

Um, I think if we’re talking about my spirit as a whole and all elements of life, I think asking questions is, is helpful. I also think putting myself in situations that I am not comfortable is helpful because it challenges me to think about things differently. Um, you know, like for instance, um, read my fiance is from, you know, an Episcopal church. And so they do things differently and talking to him about the differences in the church services and you know, what are priorities to me? What are priorities to him? Where do we find that middle ground? I think that those kinds of conversations have challenged me to think about what’s important to me. And how do I start to surround myself with that kind of environment, if that makes sense.

Mary Ann (06:24):

Yeah. I think, I think what you’re doing is in a very basic way, combining your, your families of origin experiences, but also coming up with a plan for how are we going to pursue our relationship with God that’s unique to this relationship. Yeah. And I think when I think about either halt or kill my spiritual growth, having a plan or not having a plan is a big part of that. I, I grew up in the church too. Obviously I raised you in the church and some of the, um, pillars that get suggested throughout our church experience, right, is you that you seek out spiritual community through the church or through other type of organizations that are affiliated with faith, um, that you would be in the word daily that perhaps you would do a Bible study that you would pray pray every day throughout the day, perhaps you would also enjoy worship music, things that would glorify God.

Mary Ann (07:33):

These were kind of the tenants or the pillars of spiritual growth. And for me, that’s a plan, but that doesn’t always equal that I keep with that plan. And I think part of the reason I don’t keep with that plan has to do with needing immediate gratification whatever’s going on with me, right. Like I have, I think a real drive for a sense of fulfillment, a sense of significance and just a sense of stability. Like those are three drivers, um, for my life. And so if I can get a quick fix on those things, I will often divert from the plan to go towards those things and I will spend a lot more energy learning or, um, participating in things that will give me that sense of significance or stability. Right. Do you do that same thing where you kind of divert for your plan, from your plan for particular reasons?

Katie (08:47):

Yeah. I think I do that in pretty much every category of my life. Um, I, you know, I have these big goals of, you know, being debt free, owning a home, you know, whatever. And all of that requires being, you know, good with money. And yet here I am sitting outside of home goods because in my mind I’m like, oh, I’m going to be the lady that cooks appetizers and her Oester toaster. So I need to go get little pants. Right. It’s like my immediate need to be the lady that cooks the appetizers over runs this like longer goal of, you know, financial freedom or whatever. I think, I think that happens. That’s just one example, but that happens to me a lot where I just get, you know, excited about the moment and yeah, I don’t know.

Mary Ann (09:34):

Yeah. Well, and interesting because part of what derails your plan is actually the pursuit of an identity, right? Like you’re, you’re looking for a feeling or you’re looking for a place for yourself to gain that feeling. And for you being the lady that hosts hospitality is something that is a driver for you. Right. And so you’re always going to be looking for cool ways to create an atmosphere for hospitality. But what about the idea that actually the way God would have you connect is through hospitality, but by being in relationship with people not by what you’re serving on or what you’re offering them to eat.

Katie (10:36):

Yeah. I mean, I think that that’s ultimately the goal. I think it’s hard because, you know, I live in Memphis far away from everybody. And so it’s hard to feel, I don’t know, it’s hard to make friends when you’re 20 something like there’s no real outlet for it. And so you have to be intentional about meeting people and you have to be intentional about, you know, putting yourself out there. And I think that that can be really hard. Um, and it’s much easier to go to home goods and buy a pan

Mary Ann (11:07):

That is fully done. God. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And, and I get that and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting a pan from HomeGoods to complete your sense of hospitality. I don’t, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It’s when you pursue your identity without, including who God says you are. Yeah. Right. So one of the other things that I think can,

Katie (11:38):

And I have something to say about that, sorry, I don’t mean to cut you off. I know it’s your podcast. I guess the thing that I have a hard time with, right, is that sometimes it feels like my soul is reaching for an identity that I was not like, I am not right now. And I guess I have a hard time with that because my soul, right. Craves to be the woman that owns lots of land has a great big garden, kind of wild where’s linen closing has big curls and like lives a mama Mia lifestyle. Right. And I am a girl that’s sitting in the home goods, parking lot, wearing a hat from vineyard vines and my yoga pants, my Birkenstocks, you know, living in an apartment where I don’t have any access to the outdoors. And so I think it’s hard to wait and, you know, I just, I, I think that’s hard to figure out how do you get from where you’re at, where you want to be when it feels like where you want to be should come naturally.

Mary Ann (12:45):

Well, I think, I think there’s growth in everything. Don’t you think? I mean, the reality is you’re, you’re partially there with your bourbon stocks. That’s true. That’s true.

Katie (12:57):

I do like my Burks they’re comfortable. Yeah.

Mary Ann (13:01):

And also I think sometimes it, God reveals to us a little bit of where we’re going to find our greatest fulfillment or our end game, or maybe our middle game. It just part of our, our game of life. Right? Like there have definitely been things that I have sensed my whole life and then, and they didn’t come to fruition until real recently and they certainly didn’t come in the form that I envisioned them because my idea of what God would have for me was much more narrow than what he was going to orchestrate. And sometimes I believe that I have chase after the longing and that I can’t wait on God and I’ve already figured it out. But most of the time when I wait on him all of the time, really when I wait on him, not only does it come to pass, but it comes to pass in a way that was unique to that season of life or unique to God’s call in my life.

Mary Ann (14:09):

Right. So I kind of have always thought, I really want to teach and speak and write. And I just thought those things were going to happen in a particular way. And as a result of COVID, they’ve happened at a completely different way and a better way in some respects, because I, I get to talk about what I want to talk about. I get to have conversations with people like yourself and those weren’t the things that I envisioned when I thought about teaching and speaking, I thought about them very, um, traditionally. And so this is a much more untraditional way, but it also is a way that complete sense to me. And I think that’s how God works is sometimes we can be given, um, a shadow of what’s to come. Right. I just a little bit of a glimmer. And then, and then all of a sudden it doesn’t happen for years, but when it does happen, it falls into place at a time that you’re like, oh, of course it would happen. Now this feels so right. But the law has been there all along. Yeah. So, so, okay. So tell me, tell me this. What are the things that, like, what are the costs that you experienced fight, not actively growing your relationship with God? Like what do you think are some of the ways that maybe you’ve struggled because you’re not sticking to an intentional pursuit of God?

Mary Ann (15:53):


Katie (15:57):

Well, I think one thing comes to mind is like, you know, God is not a God of confusion. And you’ve said that to me several times in my life. And I think that I tend to rush into things and end up getting myself confused or go past what God may be intended for me or faster, you know, than it was meant to be. And I ended up causing pain for myself and inadvertently, and, or I put myself in a situation where I don’t really know how I’m going to get out of it. And so I think that that’s, that’s definitely one of the things that I’ve run into of like, just putting myself in a situation where I, I made the steps and I shouldn’t have, and I think that that’s something I run into, not all the time, but sometimes. And I think another thing is that, um, I put myself in situations, like when I go around that, or I don’t wait on God or, you know, don’t even ask God, um, I put myself in situations that aren’t fruitful really. Like, you know, I, I get into a situation where I’ve made a decision and it’s like, okay, I thought this was going to be a really good one. And actually it was neutral, you know, like nothing really happened. I didn’t really have to do that. And I think that happens to me a fair amount also.

Mary Ann (17:27):

So, so one of the biggest things that you kind of get to is this running ahead of that and the cost of that is that you end up confused, always fulfilled, not feeling at peace, right? Yeah. And why do you think you run ahead of that?

Katie (17:53):

Like, why not wait on him? I think it’s partially because I’m impatient, but I think I also am like, just like every other young, 20 year old that thinks they know everything. I feel like this is stupid, but like, I feel like at some level God has given me wisdom. Therefore every decision I will make will be good. I’m not saying that’s rational, but I think that sometimes when, like, I’m very good at convincing myself that I am wise, like I could, I could make an argument. I would like, I’m like a car salesman for myself. Like I can convince myself with anything. That’s a good idea and

Mary Ann (18:40):

Car salesman to myself.

Katie (18:43):

Like I can, I can convince myself anything is a good idea. And so naturally in that convincing, I’m also going to tie in, this is what God would have for you.

Mary Ann (18:56):

Oh, just one more little bow on top to make it right. Yeah. You can’t debate me on this. This is a close, God blessed it.

Katie (19:05):

Uh, right. Or if God didn’t want this for you, he would shut the door and he hasn’t shut the door. Therefore it’s permission, which is so not. Right. But you

Mary Ann (19:16):

Know, okay. That’s how so. So you now know that part of what you are. I’m not saying this right. You were saying that part of the cost of not being connected to God is that you make yourself God in essence, right? I mean, you don’t like how that comes out my mouth. Do you know? It sounds horrible, but I mean, what it is, it’s like, I’m going to make my decisions and then I’m going to turn around and say, okay, God, now you can bless it or better yet. I’ll just tell everybody you’ve less. Didn’t actually happen as you. Right. That’s the worst is when you’re like, God’s blessed it. Oh, wait, hold on. Let me pray and make sure that’s wrong.

Katie (20:10):

Yeah, exactly. And then like I gotcha.

Mary Ann (20:15):

Okay. So here’s, here’s one of my thoughts about that is that one of the ways that Satan can get his most power is by us not telling that truth that you just told. Right. But once we tell the truth of like, okay, this is my issue, this is how my thinking goes. If I’m going to be honest, then there becomes the, okay. Now what do I do? So now that you kind of have recognized these tendencies yourself, what’s what is the next step for you? Like, great. So you ha you, you acknowledge that you have wisdom. And I would probably say that you have some spiritual wisdom, you have some worldly wisdom, and then you have some just ego wisdom. Right. And then you would agree. I think that you desire for your spiritual life to be rich. And that, you know, impatient is something that stops that because you just want to get on with the business of making a decision and not waiting on God. But like, now that you know all of that, what do you do with it? I don’t know. What do you do with that?

Katie (21:41):

I feel like, I feel like that’s very existential for me. I don’t know why, but I feel like there’s danger. I don’t know. Maybe that’s Satan telling me that like, oh, now that you’ve outed yourself and that you you’ve fake permission, like, Ooh, life’s gonna flip upside down now, you know, or things are gonna move a lot slower. Or my biggest fear is all these things that you’ve convinced yourself. God is saying to you of you should do this. You should do that. Or you’re this kind of person, or this is the future you have, or I have in store for you kind of thing. All that is just, you made that up in your head, Katie, and it’s not real. So, so I think there’s danger. Go ahead. Yeah. I think that it feels like there’s danger in trusting in danger in believing that God knows my soul and my feature way better than I do. And he’s not going to make wrong decisions. If that makes sense. Like everything is good and perfect. That that creates. So I don’t know where I got the idea that everything is good and perfect. Katie creates some stupid decisions.

Katie (23:03):

I don’t know where that came from.

Mary Ann (23:06):

The answer is self-reliance is where it came from. And then of course, you know, Satan comes in and does his little promise of like, Hey, I can satisfy these. Logging’s a lot faster than God can. So with me sister. Right. But I think the thing that I think about is I do think it’s a little bit of an existential question to say, okay, well, what’s next then now that you know this, what do you do with it? So when I tell you that part of what you do do with it, because I actually think what you said about slowing down is really probably a very important thing for you to consider because you are a pretty fast person when it comes to your thinking. And I think you have much more insight when you slow down.

Mary Ann (24:04):

Right. So I do think slowing down is a part, part of the journey for you and learning to wait on God. And I think one of the things that I would invite you to do is just like you said, okay, here’s what I do that I believe is killing my spiritual growth. That seems very dramatic killing, but, you know, stunting or getting in the way of whatever, um, is running ahead of God. So I go, okay, well, the fastest way I know to, to get that in order is by praying and confessing to him, just what you confess to me making like an intentional daily repentance plan, right? Not repentance. Like I, I, you know, I’m a terrible person and I didn’t glorify you to God today. God though, that might be a part of it. But just also the self-reliance like acknowledging in front of God.

Mary Ann (25:07):

I don’t want to be, so self-reliant, I don’t want to run ahead of you help me to walk in step with you, bam, prayer. Right? Like that’s, that’s part of that. But then the other part of it is, is taking the time to say, okay, what are the practices that I need to put in my life to be able to hold myself accountable? And I think that’s actually the key is the accountability, right? The, not just the accountability to God, but like being in community, community authentically with other people so that they can hold you accountable so that they can be an encouragement to you. Do you like when I say that to you, like that seems like a workable plan for me as far as the what’s next, but when you hear it, what do you think?

Katie (25:57):

Um, well I think that for me, well, one, what I’ll say is the second part of your plan is amazing. I love the idea of surrounding myself with people that can listen to me and my stupid ideas and say, Hmm, that’s not good. I think that would be helpful. Um, I think that that would be very good for me to have people that are like my buffers on the bowling lane kind of thing. Um, and then I can put whatever, you know, the rails or whatever. I don’t bowl.

Mary Ann (26:29):

He was a bowling cheat.

Katie (26:32):

No, I felt like there’s only one location. You can go on a bowling lane and I want to go that way for God. So I don’t know anyway, but the other part was prayer. I think that’s something that I’ve always struggled with to be consistent about. And I think recently, actually that’s funny that you bring it up. I’ve been revisiting what it means for me to fray because in my mind it’s very like you sit down and you put your hands together and you close your eyes and you have a conversation with God. And I just don’t feel like that’s the best strategy for me. Um, I connect really well with God through my art or through writing or through, you know, worship and things like that. And so I have been thinking actually about how do I make my prayer life more consistent and maybe think differently about the way that I pray, you know? And so maybe that’s something worth exploring through this kind of process.

Mary Ann (27:40):

I love that idea of like praying in a way that you need to, how you’ve been created. Right? Because I think we are kind of taught one way of praying. Like, like you said, put your hands together, bow your head, say a prayer, make sure that you follow in some cases, that little acronym that, and do this in a sincere, you know, vulnerable way. But for you, prayer could look something much more creative, much more artistic as a way of communicating with God.

Katie (28:19):

Well, I think it’s a much more physical prayer. I think that’s where I struggle. Like I’m not, I’ve never been the person that in school learns through lecturing. I have to take notes in order for anything to sink in. It had to have some kind of physical execution. And so I think the definition of prayer being only in your head is something I’ve always struggled with. You know? And so to me, prayer can look like, you know, it’s a beautiful day outside. I’m going to go lay on the field and bask in God’s creation. You know, why is that not considered prayer? Why is art not considered prayer or poems or, you know, worship or things like that. I think that, that, you know, it, it feels like there’s room for redefinition and room for building in some unique kinds of prayer. Yes. That I think might be helpful because I don’t think everybody is great. Like lots of people in the world of ADHD, it might be probably pretty hard to pray in your head. You know, doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, you know, but it’s hard to pray in your head. I get distracted, I, or fall asleep.

Mary Ann (29:32):

I fall asleep too sometimes, but I just, I love the idea. I love the idea that, that you have been uniquely made and that you then would connect with God in those unique ways. Right.

Katie (29:49):

So like, I think when you first, when you first asked me the question, as I was walking out of home goods, let’s talk about what stunting your spiritual growth meat. That’s why I asked, are we talking about religious growth or are we talking about spirit growth? Because to me, I feel like there are, I feel like everybody has different personality and a different soul in a different way that they work. Right. And so I feel like something that has stunted my growth is trying to figure out what are the best things for me and how do I do things authentic to my personality, if that makes sense. Because I think, you know, prayer is a perfect example of like, I don’t like praying in my head. I get confused. I feel like I say stupid things. I feel like I’m praying selfishly. Whereas if I go out and I paint, I don’t feel like there’s any way that I can be selfish about that. I feel like, you know, I, I paint and I think about God and I, and I ruminate on the things that God has been putting on my heart and you know, that could be prayer.

Mary Ann (31:03):

Absolutely. And I think it would be interesting for us to revisit this conversation. You applying after you’ve applied these concepts through your art or writing, or even like an intentional conversation about how God’s working in your life or what, what areas of your life you feel like you need to strengthen your connection with God. So let’s come back and have the conversation of like, okay, if I truly apply the uniqueness of how God has made me to my relationship with him, to my growth, what, what is the outcome like? So let’s, let’s just follow it up, like in a, you know, maybe a couple of weeks. Cause I do know that sometimes things get busy, but a couple of weeks from now, after you’ve done some of these intentional shifts towards spiritual growth, let’s see what comes of it. That’s that accountability of like, Hey yeah, go do, but let’s circle back and talk about what you’ve discovered and maybe even add one more element to what you’ve discovered like, okay, now I’ve discovered this, God is show me in your word, how it applies to this thing I’ve discovered or show me your words so I can apply it to the things I need to heal.

Mary Ann (32:32):

Right? And so using not just your unique way in which you relate to God, but also his word to his character and his call on your life, it’s the company. But if you don’t have the accountability, it doesn’t really matter that you haven’t a plan, have a plan because part of what you need, and this is not me saying that for everybody. I think this is me saying it to you. Is that by you doing art, are you doing writing or whatever it is that you decide to use creatively to connect with God, that is you. That is, um, okay. I got old people bring those in talking about, I don’t know I was going somewhere.

Katie (33:18):

I felt that the momentum was building and then it was just like,

Mary Ann (33:25):

It was something like, yeah, like, you know, this is, this is who you are. And I want to see what you discover in it. And the, oh, I know what it was that the art and all of those things slow you down. Right. And that was another area that you wanted to grow in is walking more in step with, with God, then running ahead of him and then saying, Hey, by the way, could you bless this? Right. So I’ll be interesting to see, like how does the art reveal something to you about what God would have, you know, about your life? How does the word intersect with that? And then how, as a result of doing me art or anything, creative, how have you slowed down to listen? Okay. So we’re back to talk about that. That’s going to be cool. Okay. So just to wrap it up, what are you doing the rest of your day?

Katie (34:19):

I’m going to go back into home goods. Um, because I didn’t get my pan. I need to go get my pants.

Mary Ann (34:27):

I really think that that’s might not be the best place to look for a pant. Okay.

Katie (34:31):

Well, I can go to Walmart. I can come back this way if I need to. But yeah. I don’t know. I have to clean a rug and then I’m going to clean my house.

Mary Ann (34:40):

Yeah. I see behind you. Cause you’re in your car. There’s some kind of like purple cleaning cloth.

Katie (34:47):

Yeah. I’m going to try it. I’m going to try it. It’s a, it’s a microfiber mop. We have like a

Mary Ann (34:56):

What’s the, what is I almost said what’s the fluid. Okay. I to say like, what’s the, what, what is that call? What are you pushing around to mop? What’s I submitted

Katie (35:09):

It’s called it. So it’s, it’s a dry mop. Oh, is it? Yeah. And it just picks up dust and we live in a very dusty apartment because it’s all concrete. Oh. So I thought, oh, I’ll get that. And that’ll be easy. So the floors don’t get dirty. Okay. Well let me know how that goes. We’ll see. Yeah. Very hot. It is uh, 80 with a very high humidity.

Mary Ann (35:39):

Oh, not good. All right. Well, enjoy hanging out with granny today.

Katie (35:43):

I will. I’ll say hi for you.

Mary Ann (35:46):

Thanks. Yeah. She texted this morning at like, I don’t know, six wanting to know if my house had fallen down because of the tornado that hit Naperville. She’s so dramatic. And I was like, okay, don’t you think of my house got destroyed. I called you, right? Yeah. But it’s all good. I have, my house is safe and you know, we need to pray for the people who did get hit and see what we can do to help them. Absolutely. Um, I’ve been kind of pondering Papa, like going over and helping some people this weekend to make that happen. How good that’d be. Awesome. Anyway. All right, girl, you have a good day. All right. Love you. Love you too. Bye. Bye.

Introduction (36:36):

I hope you enjoyed this episode of the renewal session podcast. Make sure to head on over to iTunes and rate them, subscribe to the podcast so that you never miss an episode. New episodes are dropping every Thursday and I can’t wait for you to tune into next time until then live your best life.


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Hey There, I’m Mary Ann, a Christian Therapist for more than a decade, Life Coach and Identity and Calling Mentor
Most days you can find me helping clients with the messy and meaningful things of life. I am mostly known for being a Christ follower, Wife and Mother to two adult children. If you were to ask people what I am like, they would say “ what you see if what you get”, funny, authentic, and unfiltered truth. I love teaching people about how to use counseling ideas to lead them to deeper spiritual growth. I am passionate about helping people become who they were created to be.

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