True Growth is in the Trimming


I’ve been thinking a lot about growth lately, and how unattainable—or at least, unsustainable—it feels at times. I’ve heard it described as “two steps forward, one step back” and, to be honest, that visual absolutely does not resonate with me. It feels like a waste of energy on something that should be so easy to control. My inner perfectionist scoffs at the image of this cha-cha attempt at progress—always moving, but never moving forward.

I’ve been in search of a metaphor by which I can better understand the dichotomy between growth and mistakes. Time and again, I’ve asked myself how to allow room for mistakes in a way that doesn’t make them feel like a waste. And the longer I think about it, the more willing I am to consider that, perhaps, the answer is found in the complete acceptance of the wastefulness.

I’m coming to the conclusion that life is not about growing perfectly. It’s about having the courage to cut back, to trim, to adjust. And then it’s about having the courage to keep growing, even when we know that it will be imperfect. In this growing and trimming process, we are renewed. We are refreshed. We grow faster.

And all that energy that I’ve put into making my efforts efficient—well, that is the biggest waste of all. Because how can you know if something is worthwhile unless you try it for a time? I’ve spun myself round and round trying to know the end from the beginning, when I could have just done a little growing and trimming. Why not explore, then redirect the course a couple of degrees? There is beauty in this, if we will open our eyes to it.

We must believe that a snip won’t kill us off entirely. We must have the hope, the trust, that there will be enough left over for us to grow anew. It takes great courage, but it also breathes new life into our very being.

Growth is both gut-wrenching and glorious. I imagine it always will be, for we can’t dissolve the struggle without also eliminating the triumph. Still, as we hold space for both the heartache and the joy, the two bleed together and, even when we’re up to our knees in the trenches, there is a tangible glory of the struggle to be discovered.

I’m still working through what that means for my life, and what it looks like in practice. But from the very depths of something within me comes a mantra to guide me for now: true growth is in the trimming.

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